Icon of Australian Country Music

Say “Australian country music” and the name David Gordon Kirkpatrick is probably not the first one that comes to mind. Nonetheless, that would be the person, although he's known to most of the world as Slim Dusty. To call him a legend and an icon of Australian country music is an understatement. This well-loved country music songwriter, singer and producer was born on June 13, 1927 in Kempsey, New South Wales, the son of a farmer. His career in music really started when he was 11 years old, the same time he adopted the stage name “Slim Dusty”. This career would take him all the way to the time he died in 2003, still hard at work on his latest album. The time in between is still unequaled in Australia's music industry.

When he was 10 years old, he wrote his first song “The Way the Cowboy Dies”. At 18, he released his first classic “When the Rain Tumbles Down in July” and signed his first recording contract the Next year. With the advent of rock 'n roll, the popularity of country music waned and Dusty's music was confined mostly to the regional centers of the country. In 1951, he married Joy McKean who worked alongside him as songwriter and business manager. The Next year, their daughter Anne Kirkpatrick was born.

In 1954, Dusty went full-time into show business and launched the travelling Slim Dusty Show which, after a couple of years was converted into a large tent show on the show-ground circuit. The succeeding year was a milestone in Dusty's career when his hit song “A Pub With No Beer” became the biggest selling record by an Australian. The song was named after a real place in Taylors Arm, not far from where Dusty was born. In 1958, the song became Australia's first Gold record, a fitting celebration of the birth of his son, David. In 1959 and 1960, the Dutch and German versions of the song became top hits in Belgium, Austria and Germany. In the course of his career, Slim Dusty accumulated more Gold and Platinum albums than any other Australian artist.

Dusty won the Best Single award at the inaugural Country Music Awards of Australia in Tamwort
h. His wife, Joy, won the Song of the Year award. His record of 35 Golden Guitars over the years is still unmatched. Slim Dusty has the distinction of being the world's first music artist to record all his 100 albums with the same record label, EMI.

In 1970, Slim Dusty was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire, in recognition of his services to music. In 1998, he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia to recognize his contribution to the entertainment industry. But the most sentimental honor, perhaps, came in 2000. At the Olympic Games in Sydney, he was asked to sing Australia's unofficial anthem “Waltzing Matilda”, with the entire stadium joining in.

Slim Dusty died at home in 2003. His state funeral was attended by thousands, including the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition. In a fitting tribute to the man who was the symbol of Australian country music, the Anglican Dean of Sydney led the gathered crowd in singing “A Pub With No Beer”.