Judith Durham, Australian folk-pop icon and singer of The Seekers, dies at 79

Judith Durham, who rose to global prominence as the lead singer of The Seekers, died on Friday aged 79. The Australian folk-pop pioneer died of complications from a long battle with lung disease at Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“It’s a sad day for Judith’s family, fellow Seekers, Musicoast staff, the music industry and fans everywhere, and all of us who have been a part of Judith’s life for so long.” , said Graham Simpson, a member of the group’s management team.

Many have graciously paid tribute online, including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese who highlighted his kindness and his legacy.

“A national treasure and Australian icon, Judith Durham gave voice to a new strand of our identity and helped pave the way for a new generation of Australian artists,” wrote Albanese on Twitter. “Her kindness will be missed by many, the anthems she gave to our nation will never be forgotten.”

Durham teammates Keith Potter, Bruce Woodley and Athol Guy writes on facebook of his “intense and heroic” fight.

“Our lives are forever changed by losing our forever precious friend and our shining star,” they wrote. “His fight was intense and heroic – never complaining about his fate and fully accepting his conclusion. His magnificent musical legacy, Keith, Bruce and I are so lucky to share.

Durham originally dreamed of becoming a pianist and earned his associate degree in the field at the Melbourne University Conservatorium, according to his site. She was an equally passionate singer and at 18 she started taking singing lessons.

Durham joined The Seekers in 1963 when the group released their first album, ‘Introducing The Seekers’. They achieved international acclaim as the first Australian band to achieve mainstream success in the US and UK.

The Seekers were the first Australian band to achieve mainstream success in the US and UK.
The Seekers were the first Australian band to achieve mainstream success in the US and UK.

John Waterman via Getty Images

“The Carnival is Over” and “A World of Our Own” are hit songs that have contributed to the band’s meteoric rise. Durham briefly left The Seekers to become a solo artist and returned to the band in the 1990s. The band have sold 50 million records worldwide.

The Seekers’ legacy includes Durham being awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 1995 and the Centenary Medal in 2003 for his services to music, according to BBC. The Melbourne native also became Victorian of the Year in 2015 – state Premier Dan Andrews recently shared his condolences.

“With their unique vocals and stage presence leading The Seekers, the band have become one of Australia’s biggest chart-toppers,” Andrews tweeted.

“Judith Durham was named Victorian of the Year in 2015 for her services to music and a range of charities”, Andrews added. “His memory will live on not just in his many hit songs, but in the hearts of generations of Victorians and Australians.”