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Encyclopedia entry for 'The Seekers' LETTER:

Formed in 1962
StyleFolk, pop
 Original line-up: Ken Ray (lead vocals, guitar), Keith Potger (guitar, banjo, harmony vocals; ex-Trinamics, Escorts), Athol Guy (double bass, harmony vocals; ex-Ramblers, Escorts), Bruce Woodley (guitar, mandolin, harmony vocals; ex-Moonshine 5)
 Seekers albums: Introducing The Seekers (W&G, 1963), The Sound of the Seekers (World Record Club/EMI, 1964), Hide and Seekers (World Record Club/EMI, 1964), The Seekers Sing Their Big Hits (W&G, 1964), Introducing The Seekers' Big Hits (double compilation, W&G, 1965), The Seekers (EMI, 1965; issued in the UK as A World of Our Own), The Carnival is Over (EMI, 1965), Come the Day (EMI, 1966), Seekers Seen in Green (EMI, 1967), Live at The Talk of the Town (EMI, 1968), Best of The Seekers (EMI, 1968), The Seekers Golden Collection (early demos, Philips, 1969), The Seekers (Astor, 1975), All Over the World (EMI, 1978), Australia's Own The Very Best of The Seekers (compilation, Hammard, 1978), The Seekers Live on (EMI, 1989), This is The Seekers (compilation, EMI, 1994), Treasure Chest (box set, EMI, 1997), The Seekers Complete (box set, EMI, 1997); Judith Durham: The Seekers albums: The Silver Jubilee Album (EMI, 1993), 25th Anniversary Celebration Live in Concert (EMI, 1993), Future Road (EMI, 1997), The Historic 1968 BBC Farewell (Mushroom/Festival, 2000); Judith Durham solo albums: For Christmas with Love (Good Year, 1968), A Gift of Song (EMI, 1970), Climb Ev'ry Mountain (Interfusion/Festival, 1971), Judith Durham and the Hottest Band in Town (Interfusion/Festival, 1973), Judith Durham and the Hottest Band in Town II (Interfusion/ Festival, 1974), Hot Jazz Duo (Interfusion/Festival, 1981), Let Me Find Love (PolyGram, 1995), Mona Lisas (PolyGram, 1996), Always There (EMI, 1997).
Further reading: Colours Of My Life: The Judith Durham Story by Graham Simpson (Random House, 1994).

During the mid-1960s, the phenomenally successful Seekers captivated the world with their wholesome image and bright folk-styled sound. Alongside The Easybeats, The Seekers were Australia's most important musical export of the decade. Judith Durham possessed a powerful, crystal clear, Joan Baez-like soprano voice and, although not the origi-nal lead singer, she became The Seekers' focal point. Before she joined The Seekers in late 1962, Durham had sung jazz, blues and gospel on the Melbourne jazz circuit. She recorded an EP, Judy Durham with Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers for Melbourne label W&G. Keith Potger, Athol Guy and Bruce Woodley had played with a number of semi-professional groups before joining forces as The Seekers with Ken Ray.

From the start, The Seekers concentrated on a bright, uptempo sound, although they were too pop to be considered strictly folk and too folk to be rock. In 1963, The Seekers signed to W&G and issued the album Introducing The Seekers. In November, their debut single `Waltzing Matilda'/`Just a Closer Walk with Thee' made the lower reaches of the Melbourne Top 40 chart (#37). In March 1964, The Seekers accepted an offer from the Sitmar shipping line to entertain passengers on one of its world cruises. Seven weeks later, The Seekers landed in the UK. They had intended to make their UK stay a short working vacation before rejoining the Sitmar cruise, but promoter Eddie Jarrett (from the Grade Organisation booking agency) immediately lined up gigs. He also teamed them up with songwriter/producer Tom Springfield from popular folk trio The Springfields. The Seekers made regular appearances on UK television's The Ronnie Carroll Show.

The Seekers' first UK single, `Myra'/`With My Swag All on My Shoulder', appeared on the independent Oriole label. They issued two albums for the World Record Club, The Seekers and Hide and Seekers, before signing to EMI/Columbia. In November 1964, the Springfield-penned `I'll Never Find Another You'/`Open Up Them Pearly Gates' reached #1 in Australia and the UK, and #4 in the USA. It went on to sell 1.75 million copies worldwide. Springfield's `A World of Our Own'/ `Sinner Man' took The Seekers to #2 in Australia, #3 in the UK and #19 in the USA during April 1965. The album A World of Our Own reached #5 on the UK charts during July. It was issued in Australia as The Seekers. The Seekers appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, and then returned to Australia to tour with The Dave Clark Five.

`Morningtown Ride' reached #8 in Australia and #44 in the USA during August 1965. The Seekers re-recorded the song in 1966 for the UK market, where it reached #2 during November (backed with `When the Stars Begin to Fall'). Another Springfield composition, `The Carnival is Over'/`We Shall Not Be Moved', took The Seekers to #1 during November 1965 in both Australia and the UK (where it knocked The Rolling Stones' `Get Off My Cloud' from the top spot). It became one of the group's most celebrated songs. Springfield had adapted its melody from the Russian folk song `Stenjka Razin', and the song's elusive central characters Pierrot and Columbine have intrigued listeners for decades. Nick Cave later included a version of `The Carnival is Over' on his album Kicking Against the Pricks.

The Seekers undertook a successful Australian tour during February 1966. A month later, the Paul Simon-penned `Someday, Oneday' reached #4 in Australia and #11 in the UK. Woodley co-wrote another song with Simon, `Red Rubber Ball', which The Seekers included on their second UK Top 10 album Come the Day. US band The Cyrkle later enjoyed a #1 American hit with the song. Springfield's `Walk with Me' took The Seekers to #10 in the UK and #31 in Australia during October. The Tom Springfield/Jim Dale-penned `Georgy Girl' kept The Seekers at the top when it made #1 in Australia, #3 in the UK and #1 in the USA during February 1967. It was the theme song to Silvio Narizzano's feature film Georgy Girl starring Lynn Redgrave and Alan Bates. `Georgy Girl' went on to sell 3.5 million copies worldwide.

In March, The Seekers appeared before an estimated crowd of 200000 people at the Moomba concert staged at the Myer Music Bowl. The group was onstage for only 20 minutes. The Seekers returned for a national tour in December 1967, following a successful American jaunt. They filmed two television specials during the year, The Seekers Down Under and The World of The Seekers. The Seekers were named Australians of the Year for 1967. In the meantime, `On the Other Side' (Australian #19 in October), `When will the Good Apples Fall?' (Australian #35, UK #11 in November) and `Emerald City' (Australian #28, UK #50 in December) kept the group in the public eye. American producer/singer/cult figure Kim Fowley co-wrote `Emerald City' with one `John Martin'. Many years later, it was revealed that `John Martin' was in fact Keith Potger.

With the release of `Emerald City' and the Seekers Seen in Green album, EMI UK issued Judith Durham's second solo single, `Again and Again'/`Memories'. Her debut single, `The Olive Tree', had reached #33 on the UK chart during June 1967. At the start of 1968, Durham decided to leave the band. In accordance with a promise that the group members would give six months' notice, she told the others of her intention to leave. The Seekers recorded a final single, `Days of My Life'/`Study War No More' (April 1968), with producer Mickie Most (Yardbirds, Donovan, Lulu, Herman's Hermits). Despite Most's track record on the UK charts, it was the group's least successful single in five years. The group's final album, Live at The Talk of the Town fared better, reaching #2 in the UK during September. Their BBC-TV special, Farewell The Seekers, also attracted a wide audience.

The compilation album Best of The Seekers reached #1 during November 1968, knocking The Beatles' Beatles (the `White Album') from the top of the UK chart in the process. Best of The Seekers eventually stayed on the British charts for 125 weeks. With the break-up of The Seekers in July 1968, Woodley returned to Australia to concentrate on songwriting. In 1971, he recorded an album for RCA, Just Good Friends, and contributed four songs (alongside Hans Poulsen and Billy Green) to the soundtrack of Tim Burstall's surfing film Getting Back to Nothing. Guy formed a marketing and promotions company in Australia and in 1973 was elected to the NSW state Parliament as a Liberal Party candidate.

Potger stayed in the UK to form and manage The New Seekers, although he did not remain with the group for long. Potger's only hit with the group was `What Have They Done to My Song, Ma?' (UK #44 in October 1970). With the arrival of another expatriate Australian Peter Doyle, The New Seekers went on to enjoy a string of worldwide hits with the likes of `Never Ending Song of Love', `I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (in Perfect Harmony)' and `You Won't Find Another Fool Like Me'.

Judith Durham launched her solo career with the album For Christmas with Love, followed by A Gift of Song and its singles `The Light is Dark Enough' and `Let Me Find Love', in early 1970. Durham had married musician Ron Edgeworth at the end of 1969 and he became her musical director. The album Climb Ev'ry Mountain and its title track single `Climb Every Mountain' followed in 1971. Durham began to move in a jazz/blues/ragtime direction and formed The Hottest Band in Town. Her fourth solo album, Judith Durham and the Hottest Band in Town, and its single, `I Wanna Dance to Your Music', came out in 1973, followed by Judith Durham and the Hottest Band in Town II a year later. Durham embarked on an Australian tour with The Hottest Band in Town during January 1975. At the same time, Potger, Guy and Woodley had decided to re-form The Seekers without Durham, and recruited Dutch-born Australian Louisa Wisseling as lead singer.

The Seekers signed a new deal with the Astor label. They immediately found Australian chart success with the Woodley-penned `Sparrow Song' (#2 in June 1975) and the album The Seekers (#17 in July). In September 1975, The Seekers undertook a national tour. `Reunion'/`Break these Chains' (October), `Where in the World?' (April 1976) and `Giving and Taking' (June) appeared as singles. In June 1977, Woodley left the group to concentrate on songwriting and production. Former 1960s pop star Buddy England took his place. Athol Guy also departed in 1978, to be replaced by Peter Robinson (ex-Strangers). The Seekers issued a new album, All Over the World, in November 1978. In 1989, Woodley, Guy and Potger re-emerged as The Seekers with popular cabaret performer Julie Anthony as lead singer. The Seekers re-recorded some of their best-loved songs for the album The Seekers Live on later in the year. In June 1990, Anthony left to be replaced by former Young Talent Time team member Karen Knowles.

In the meantime, Durham had returned to live in Australia during 1977. Festival issued her new single, `I Love You', that year. In 1978 Durham and Edgeworth travelled to New York where they appeared at the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival. The live recording of their performance formed the basis for the Hot Jazz Duo album (April 1981). For most of the 1980s, Durham toured internationally, but kept a low profile in Australia. In early 1990, the singer toured Australia. Then, in May 1990, Durham and Edgeworth were severely injured in a car accident just outside Melbourne. The accident put her out of action for over a year. PolyGram issued Durham's new single, `Australia Land of Today', in January 1992. She later performed the song in front of 100000 people at the opening of the Melbourne Cricket Ground's Great Southern Stand just before the World Cup Cricket final.

In late 1992, Durham ended years of speculation and ill-feeling by rejoining The Seekers as lead singer. The group recorded two new songs, Woodley's `Keep a Dream in Your Pocket' and the Durham/John Young-penned `One World Love', to coincide with the release of the `Best of' collection The Silver Jubilee Album. `Keep a Dream in Your Pocket' came out as a single in April. At the end of that month, the group embarked on the very successful Judith Durham: The Seekers Silver Jubilee Reunion tour of Australia and New Zealand. The Silver Jubilee Album peaked at #3 on the national chart during May 1993, eventually selling over 140000 copies (double platinum). It was the third highest selling Australian album for 1993 behind Jimmy Barnes' Heat and John Farnham's Then Again. It also sold double platinum in New Zealand. When issued in the UK as A Carnival of Hits, the album peaked at #4 on the British charts.

During April 1994, Judith Durham: The Seekers performed two sell-out concerts at London's famous Royal Albert Hall. The group returned in 1995 for a full-scale UK tour. In May 1995, Durham's seventh solo album, Let Me Find Love, reached the Australian Top 10. In early 1997, Durham and The Seekers signed a new deal with EMI, which was the most lucrative domestic recording contract ever: each member was reportedly to receive $1 million for a two-album deal. EMI issued The Seekers' new CD single, `Far Shore', in March 1997. EMI also put out two CD box sets, The Seekers Complete (five CDs of 126 Seekers songs including hits, live, rarities and previously unreleased material) and Treasure Chest (three CDs including the Seekers Seen in Green and Live at The Talk of the Town albums, plus the `Far Shore' single and interviews). At the end of May 1997, Durham, Air Supply's Russell Hitchcock and Yothu Yindi's Mandawuy Yunupingu issued a collaborative CD single of the Bruce Woodley and Dobe Newton-penned `I Am Australian'. The single peaked at #17 on the national chart during the first week of June. A month later EMI issued Durham's ninth solo album, Always There. Judith Durham: The Seekers' new album, Future Road (produced by Charles Fisher, best known for his work with Savage Garden), came out in October. It reached #13 on the national chart, and by the end of the year had attained platinum status (70000 copies sold). It yielded a second CD single, `Calling Me Home', also in October.

Judith Durham and The Seekers returned with the release of the archival album and video, The Historic 1968 BBC Farewell (March 2000). Presumed lost, the material was taken from the group’s final performance from the 1960s, recorded in London and broadcast to an audience of more than 10 million. The album peaked at #12 on the national chart, selling over 35 000 units. To coincide with the album release, The Seekers returned for another tour, The Carnival of Hits Tour. As it transpired, it was also the group’s final tour with the farewell concerts taking place at the Melbourne Concert Hall during April.

Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop / Ian McFarlane 1999
under licence from Allen & Unwin Pty Ltd


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