Three of Australia’s most important singing voices passed away within a few days of each other. Each one brought their own passion and joy to music, along with their own view of social importance and conscience.
Obviously, the most worldwide loss goes to the legendary Olivia Newton-John. The sweet, butterfly vocals of dozens of early 70’s pop hits, the sharp sass of tracks like “Physical” and “Heart Attack” and “You’re The One That I Want,” it was a career fully fulfilled.
We could go back to 1966, where her first single was packaged as part of a big thumping British Jackie DeShannon soundalike track.
It would be five more years before someone figured out that Olivia’s voice needed a lighter orchestration behind her, and then the hits exploded.
That, and Olivia walking onto that carnival set with an outfit that rivals Marilyn Monroe’s The Seven Year Itch dress as an iconic movie costume.
But this post also is a means to commemorate another vocalist of Australia, Judith Durham, the angelic alto of one of the most famous vocal harmony groups in existence, the Seekers. Please tell me you’ve at least heard of songs like this one.
And certainly this song has popped up on more than one oldies station from time to time.
Great. Now take a listen to this track, which arguably may be the most emotional Seekers track ever recorded. It will definitely catch you in the feels.
Our third vocalist passed away just last week. Archie Roach was an indigenous singer whose 1990 track “Took the Children Away” was one of the earliest songs to discuss the horrific state-sponsored Australian eugenics program of the Stolen Generation. Take a listen.
Another song that documented the plight of Aboriginal peoples, “Down City Streets,” is listed here.
How about a track about love and loss called “Hold On Tight”? Sure. Here you go.
I would argue that in the skies right now, the Southern Cross that looms over Australia has three more stars in its constellation. Three voices in the heavens.
Rest in glory, legends.
A little research on Olivia Newton-John reveals she was born in England, and her family moved to Australia when she was young. That threw me for a loop.
Archie Roach is the unknown of the trio as far as I know. Never heard any of his music, but I’ll check the videos later.
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