Judith Durham nous a quittés RIP

Judith Durham


Judith Durham AO (born Judith Mavis Cock; 3 July 1943 – 5 August 2022) was an Australian singer, songwriter and musician who became the lead singer of the Australian popular folk music group the Seekers in 1963.

The group subsequently became the first Australian pop music group to achieve major chart and sales success in the United Kingdom and the United States and have sold over 50 million records worldwide. Durham left the group in mid 1968 to pursue her solo career. In 1993, Durham began to make sporadic recordings and performances with The Seekers, though she remained primarily a solo performer. On 1 July 2015, she was named Victorian of the Year for her services to music and a range of charities.

Early life[edit]

Durham was born Judith Mavis Cock on 3 July 1943 in Essendon, Victoria, to William Alexander Cock DFC, a navigator and World War II pathfinder, and his wife, Hazel (née Durham).[1] From her birth until 1949, she lived on Mount Alexander Road, Essendon, and attended Essendon Primary School. She spent summer holidays at her family’s weatherboard house (which since has been demolished) on the west side of Durham Place in Rosebud.[2]

Her father accepted work in HobartTasmania, in 1949. From early 1950, the family lived in Taroona, a suburb of Hobart, where Durham attended the Fahan School before moving back to Melbourne, residing in Georgian Court, Balwyn, in 1956. She was educated at Ruyton Girls’ School Kew and then enrolled at RMIT.[3]

Durham at first planned to be a pianist and gained the qualification of Associate in Music, Australia (AMusA), in classical piano at the University of Melbourne Conservatorium. She had some professional engagements playing piano and also had classical vocal training and performed blues, gospel and jazz pieces. Her singing career began one night at the age of 18 when she asked Nicholas Ribush, leader of the Melbourne University Jazz Band, at the Memphis Jazz Club in Malvern, whether she could sing with the band. In 1963, she began performing at the same club with Frank Traynor’s Jazz Preachers, using her mother’s maiden name of Durham. In that year she also recorded her first EP, Judy Durham with Frank Traynor‘s Jazz Preachers, for W&G Records.[4]

The Seekers[edit]

The Seekers consisted of Durham, Athol GuyBruce Woodley and Keith Potger, an ABC radio producer; through Potger’s position the three were able to make a demo tape in their spare time. This was given to W&G Records, which wanted another sample of Durham’s voice before agreeing to record a Jazz Preachers’ album. W&G instead signed the Seekers for an album, Introducing the Seekers, in 1963. Durham, however, recorded two other songs with the Jazz Preachers, “Muddy Water” (which appeared on their album Jazz from the Pulpit) and “Trombone Frankie” (an adapted version of Bessie Smith‘s “Trombone Cholly”).

In early 1964, the Seekers sailed to the United Kingdom on S.S. Fairsky on which the group provided the musical entertainment. Originally they had planned to return after ten weeks, but they received a steady stream of bookings through the Grade Agency because they had sent the agency a copy of their first album. On 4 November 1964 at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios, the Seekers recorded “I’ll Never Find Another You“. In February 1965, the song reached number one in the UK and Australia. The group had further Top 10 hits with “A World of Our Own“, “Morningtown Ride” and “Someday, One Day“. “Georgy Girl” reached number two (Billboard chart) and number one (Cashbox chart) in the United States. “The Carnival Is Over” is still one of the top 50 best-selling singles in the UK.

On 12 March 1967, the Seekers set an official all-time Australian record when more than 200,000 people (nearly one tenth of the city’s entire population at that time) flocked to their performance at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne, Australia. Their TV special The Seekers Down Under scored the biggest TV audience ever (with a 67 rating), and early in 1968 they were all awarded the nation’s top honour as “Australians of the Year 1967″.[5] On a tour of New Zealand in February 1968, Durham advised the group that she was leaving the Seekers and subsequently left in July 1968.[6]

Solo career[edit]

Promotional photo for Durham’s solo album Gift of Song, 1970

Durham returned to Australia in August 1968 and her first solo television special, An Evening with Judith Durham, screened on the Nine Network in September. During her solo career, she released albums titled For Christmas with LoveGift of Song and Climb Ev’ry Mountain. In 1970, she made the television special Meet Judith Durham in London, ending with her rendition of “When You Come to the End of a Perfect Day” by Carrie Jacobs-Bond (1862–1946).[7]

In 1975, Judith starred in an acting and singing role as Sarah Simmonds, a burlesque type performer in “The Golden Girl”, an episode of the Australian television series Cash and Co. Set in the 1800s Australian goldfields, this episode also featured Durham’s husband, Ron Edgeworth, on piano. She performed six songs including “Oh Susanna”, “When Starlight Fades”, “Maggie Mae”, “Rock of Ages”, “There’s No Place Like Home” and “The Lord Is My Shepherd”.[8]

The decision was then made to record The Australian Cities Suite with all proceeds from the sale of the CD to go to the charitable sector. The album was originally planned for release in October 2008, but was eventually pushed back to April 2012. The project was to benefit charities such as the Motor Neurone Disease Association of Australia (Durham was national patron) and Orchestra Victoria, in addition to other charities which benefit from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Fund or its national affiliated network, United Way.

In 2003, Durham toured the UK in “The Diamond Tour” celebrating her 60th birthday. The tour included the Royal Festival Hall and a CD and DVD of the concert was issued.

In 2006, Durham started modernising the music and phrases in the Australian National Anthem, “Advance Australia Fair“. She first performed it in May 2009 at Federation Hall, St Kilda Road.[9][10] It was released as a CD single.

On 13 February 2009, Durham made a surprise return to the Myer Music Bowl when she performed the closing number at the RocKwiz Salutes the Bowl – Sidney Myer Music Bowl 50th Anniversary with “The Carnival Is Over”. On 23 May 2009, Durham performed a one-hour a cappella concert in Melbourne as a launch for her album Up Close and Personal.[11]

In October 2011, Durham signed an exclusive international deal with Decca Records. George Ash, President of Universal Music Australasia said “It is an honour to have Judith Durham join Decca’s wonderful roster of artists. When you think of the legends that have graced the Decca Records catalogue it is the perfect home to welcome Judith to, and we couldn’t be more excited to work with Judith on not only her new recordings but her incredible catalogue as well.”[12]

In June 2018, to celebrate Durham’s 75th birthday, a collection of 14 previously unreleased songs was released on the album So Much More.[13]

Personal life[edit]

On 21 November 1969, Durham married her musical director, British pianist Ron Edgeworth,[14] at Scots’ Church in Melbourne.

They lived in the UK and Switzerland until the mid-1980s when they bought property in NambourQueensland. In 1990, Durham, Edgeworth and their tour manager, Peter Summers, were involved in a car accident on the Calder Freeway. The driver of the other car died at the scene and Durham sustained a fractured wrist and leg. The response from her fans made Durham consider getting back together with the other members of the Seekers for a Silver Jubilee show. During this reunion Edgeworth was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. He died on 10 December 1994 with Durham by his side.[15]

In the late 1990s, Durham was stalked by a former president of a Judith Durham fan club,[16] a woman who sent her dozens of doormats through the post. The woman was subsequently prosecuted,[17] and was later imprisoned for other serial crimes.[18]

In 2000 Durham broke her hip and so was unable to sing The Carnival is Over at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney with the Seekers. However she sang it from a wheelchair at the 2000 Paralympics shortly after.[19]

In May 2013, during the Seekers’ Golden Jubilee tour, Durham suffered a stroke that diminished her ability to read and write—both visual language and musical scores. During her convalescence she made progress to rebuild those skills. Her singing ability was not affected by the stroke.[20]

Durham died after suffering from bronchiectasis, a long-standing chronic lung disease, at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne on 5 August 2022, aged 79.[21]

Solo releases[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
For Christmas with Love
  • Released: November 1968
  • Label: Goodyear, Columbia
Gift of Song
  • Released: 1970
  • Label: A&M Records
Climb Ev’ry Mountain
  • Released: 1971
  • Label: A&M Records
Judith Durham and The Hottest Band in Town
  • Released: June 1974
  • Label: Pye Records
Judith Durham and The Hottest Band in Town Volume 2
  • Released: September 1974
  • Label: Pye Records
Let Me Find Love 8
Mona Lisas
  • Released: March 1996
  • Label: EMI Records
  • Note: Re-released as Always There in 1997[26]
Future Road (with The Seekers)
  • Released: October 1997
  • Label: EMI Records
4 13
  • ARIA: Platinum[27]
The Australian Cities Suite
  • Released: October 2008
  • Label: Musicoat
Up Close and Personal
  • Released: May 2009
  • Label: Musicoat
  • Note: Re-released as An Acappella Experience in 2016
  • Released: October 2011
  • Label: Decca, UMA
It’s Christmas Time
  • Released: November 2013
  • Label: Decca, UMA

Live albums[edit]

List of live albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions Certification
The Hot Jazz Duo (with Ron Edgeworth)
  • Released: April 1979
  • Label:
25 Year Reunion Celebration (with The Seekers)
  • Released: November 1993
  • Label: EMI Music
9 22 93
  • ARIA: Platinum[28]
1968 BBC Farewell Spectacular (with The Seekers)
  • Released: November 1999
  • Label: Mushroom
Live in Concert (Melbourne Welsh Male Choir with Judith Durham)
  • Released: September 2002
Live in London
  • Released: October 2014
  • Label: Decca, UMA

Compilation albums[edit]

List of compilation albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions Certification
Australia’s Own Judith Durham
  • Released: 1971 (Australian release)
  • Label: Summit Records Australia
Here Am I
  • Released: 1972 (international release))
  • Label: A&M Records
The Silver Jubilee Album (with The Seekers)
  • Released: March 1993
  • Label: EMI Records
3 3
A Carnival of Hits (with The Seekers)
  • Released: April 1994
  • Label: EMI Records
Colours of My Life
  • Released: November 2011
  • Label: Decca, UMA
The Platinum Album
  • Released: July 2013
  • Label: Decca, UMA
So Much More
  • Released: 29 June 2018
  • Label: Decca, UMA

Extended plays[edit]

List of extended plays, with selected details
Title Details
Judy Durham
(with Frank Traynor‘s Jazz Preachers)
  • Released: 1963
  • Label: W&G

Charting singles[edit]

List of singles as lead artist, with selected chart positions and certifications, showing year released and album name
Title Year Peak chart positions
“The Olive Tree” 1967 33
A World of Our Own” (with the Seekers) 1994 76
Georgy Girl” (with the Seekers) 79
I Am Australian” (with Russell Hitchcock and Mandawuy Yunupingu) 1997 17

Honours and awards[edit]

  • In 1966, the Seekers (Judith Durham, Athol Guy, Bruce Woodley, Keith Potger) received the Carl Alan Award for Best New Group (1965) at the Top Of The Pops Awards, in London.[30]
  • In 1968, Durham and the other members of The Seekers were named jointly and severally Australians of the Year 1967.[31]
  • In the 1995 Australia Day Honours, Durham, along with the other members of The Seekers, was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).[32]
  • In 2001, Durham was awarded the Centenary Medal by the Governor-General for valued service to Australian society through music.[33]
  • In 2003, Rotary International invested Durham as a Paul Harris Fellow, in recognition of her extensive work on behalf of charities.[34]
  • In 2006, Durham and the other members of The Seekers were presented with the Key to the City by Melbourne’s Lord Mayor, John So.[35]
  • In 2012, Durham and the other members of the Seekers were honoured by Australia Post with a special Legends Of Australian Music postage stamp.[36]
  • In the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours, Durham, along with the other members of The Seekers, was advanced as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).[37]
  • In 2015, Durham was named 2015 Victorian of the Year.[38]

ARIA Music Awards[edit]

The ARIA Music Awards are a set of annual ceremonies presented by Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), which recognise excellence, innovation, and achievement across all genres of the music of Australia. They commenced in 1987.

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1995[39] Judith Durham (and the Seekers) Hall of Fame Inducted

APRA Awards[edit]

These annual awards were established by Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) in 1982 to honour the achievements of songwriters and music composers and to recognise their song writing skills, sales and airplay performance, by its members annually.[40]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2013[41] Judith Durham (and the Seekers) Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music awarded

Australian Women in Music Awards[edit]

The Australian Women in Music Awards is an annual event that celebrates outstanding women in the Australian Music Industry who have made significant and lasting contributions in their chosen field. They commenced in 2018.

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2019[42] Judith Durham AWMA Honour Roll inducted

Music Victoria Awards[edit]

The Music Victoria Awards are an annual awards night celebrating Victorian music. They commenced in 2005.

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2015[43] Judith Durham (and the Seekers) Hall of Fame inductee


  1. ^ Veitch, Harriet (6 August 2022). “Judith Durham: A Seeker who found international fame”The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 6 August 2022.
  2. ^ Information from Judith emailed by her manager, Graham Simpson,Sep 9, 2011, 11:19 AM. Hi —,Judith has asked me to write specifically to you to try to clarify your query about “Emily Durham’s house”. She does not remember now whether the house was demolished at the time Durham Place was subdivided, but her recollection of the century-old house is a weatherboard with a front verandah standing in the middle of a large block between the beach and the main road.etc.
  3. ^ Suzannah Pearce, ed. (17 November 2006). “Durham Judith Mavis”. Who’s Who in Australia Live!. North Melbourne, Vic: Crown Content Pty Ltd.
  4. ^ Malt Creative. “Welcome to Judith Durham”. Judith Durham. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  5. ^ “About Judith Durham”. Judith Durham. Archived from the original on 23 September 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  6. ^ “The Judith Durham Story”. Judith Durham. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  7. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback MachineDurham, Judith (1970). “When you come to the end of a perfect day”Meet Judith Durham [television special]. London. Retrieved 3 April 2011. Song starts at 44 seconds into the video.
  8. ^ Vagg, Stephen (14 July 2019). “Australian Singers Turned Actors”Filmink.
  9. ^ “Advance Australian Fair new lyrics” (PDF). Shoalhaven. May 2009. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  10. ^ “Judith Durham’s national anthem”. ABC. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  11. ^ “A Global First? A Cappella Solo Recitals – Judith’s First Melbourne Concerts In 8 Years”. 7 May 2009. Archived from the original on 7 May 2009.
  12. ^ “Judith Signed to Exclusive International Deal”. Judith Durham. 11 October 2011. Archived from the original on 14 March 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  13. ^ “Judith Durham celebrates her 75th birthday by releasing a new album”. 2GB. 3 July 2018. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  14. ^ “Body”. Telinco.com. Archived from the original on 1 December 2012. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
  15. ^ In 1994 her authorised biography Colours of My Life: The Judith Durham Story by Graham Simpson was first published by Random House Australia. The book was updated and reprinted in 1998 and 2000; in 2003 it was again updated when published by Virgin Books.
  16. ^ Stuart Walsh, AAP General News (Australia)12-08-1998 VIC: Seekers fan appeals against stalking conviction
  17. ^ Cauchi, Stephen (12 September 1998). “Durham’s stalker loses appeal”, The Age, p. 7.
  18. ^ Melanie Alcock, The Examiner, 5 October 1999; School raider gets 3.5 years
  19. ^ “Australian anthems: the Seekers – The Carnival is Over”The Guardian. Retrieved 6 August 2022.
  20. ^ “Seekers singer Judith Durham learns to read and write after brain hemorrhage”ABC News. Sydney: Australian Broadcasting Company. 3 July 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  21. ^ Graham, Jackson (6 August 2022). “Judith Durham, lead singer of The Seekers, dies aged 79”WAtoday. Retrieved 6 August 2022.
  22. Jump up to:a b c d Australian Albums Chart peak positions:
  23. Jump up to:a b c “Charts.nz – Judith Durham Discography”. Hung Medien. Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  24. Jump up to:a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 173. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  25. Jump up to:a b c “Judith Durham”Official Charts. 21 June 2022.
  26. ^ Malt Creative. “Judith Durham”. Judith Durham. Archived from the original on 23 September 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  27. ^ “ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1997 Albums” (PDF)Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  28. Jump up to:a b c Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia’s Music Charts 1988–2010 (pdf ed.). Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 247.
  29. ^ “Official Charts Judith Durham”. Official Charts. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  30. ^ New Music Awards – 1965. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  31. ^ The Seekers: Athol Guy, Judith Durham, Keith Potger, and Bruce Woodley – Australian of the Year. Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  32. ^ “It’s an Honour”. itsanhonour.gov.au. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  33. ^ “It’s an Honour”. itsanhonour.gov.au. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  34. ^ Rotary Central Melbourne, pp.45, 106. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  35. ^ “Judith Durham” Ruyton Girls’ School. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  36. ^ The Australia Post Legends Awards. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  37. ^ Queen’s Birthday honours: Australians recognised for services to community. ABC News 9 June 2014. retrieved 9 June 2014.
  38. ^ The Age, 1 July 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  39. ^ ARIA Hall of Fame, retrieved 15 February 2020.
  40. ^ “History”Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) | Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS). Archived from the original on 20 September 2010. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
  41. ^ The Music.com. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  42. ^ The Music.com. Retrieved on 15 February 2020.
  43. ^ “The Age Music Victoria Awards 2015 10th Edition”Music Victoria. 18 September 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Simpson, Graham. Colours of My Life: The Judith Durham Story. Melbourne: Random House Australia, 1994, 1998, 2000; Virgin Books, 2004. ISBN 1-85227-038-1.

External links[edit]


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