With more than 5 million recordings sold in Australian, Slim is
the country’s most prolific and biggest selling recording artist.
Slim Dusty AO, MBE
13 June 1927 – 19 September 2003
- First Australian to receive a Gold Record.
- First Australian to have an international record hit.
- First singer in the world to have his voice beamed to earth from space.
In 1983, astronauts Crippen and Young played Slim singing Waltzing Matilda from the space shuttle Columbia as it passed over Australia.
SLIM DUSTY, BORN David Gordon Kirkpatrick, was an Australian country music singer, songwriter and a true Aussie icon. Kirkpatrick was born 13 June 1927 in Kempsey, New South Wales. Young David was introduced to music by his father (known as Noisy Dan) who was an amateur musician and farmer. By the time David was 10 years old, he had written his first song, The Way The Cowboy Dies. He changed his name to Slim Dusty the next year and with his boyhood friend Shorty Ranger (Edwin Haberfield) began appearing regularly on local radio soon after.
While it may seem like Slim was successful from the beginning, it’s not the case. When he was 15 his father arranged for him to audition for Columbia Records in Sydney. He recorded two songs, but they didn’t make much of an impression.
Slim and Shorty turned to touring with travelling tent shows until Slim’s father died suddenly in 1945. As a result, he left to take care of the family farm. Slim’s passion for music was still alive and well. In 1947 he released the hit song When The Rain Tumbles Down In July. Unfortunately he didn’t receive any royalties for it. So he went on singing and recording whenever possible while working on the farm.
Slim started his own travelling show and went on the road in 1954. He still wrote and recorded his songs, during this 3 year period, but none were a commercial success.
A Surprise Hit
Everything changed in 1957 when he recorded The Pub With No Beer. The song was written by his friend Gordon Parsons, who enjoyed his beer and his pub. (The pub actually exists in Taylors Arm, NSW, not far from Kempsey where Slim was born.)
The Pub With No Beer was a hit and gave Dusty the recognition he sought. He recorded two more Pub songs, but finally stopped when the third Pub-theme song flopped. His 1957 original hit A Pub With No Beer was the biggest-selling record by an Australian at that time, the first Australian single to go gold and an international hit reaching No 1 in Ireland and No 3 in Britain. Pub With No Beer was originally released on 78rpm and it’s timing marks the end of the 78rpm era in the Australian music industry.
Slim and his family continued touring Australia for the next six years, but this time with Frank Foster’s Touring Extravaganza. It was an odd mixture of strippers, boxers and the Slim Dusty Show. In 1964 he began his Round Australia Slim Dusty Tours and they became a regular event. The annual 30,000 mile, 10 month trek involved more than 200 concerts in Australia and also in New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
Dusty published two autobiographies: Walk A Country Mile in 1979 and Another Day Another Town in 1997. In 1984 the feature film The Slim Dusty Movie was released on VHS and in 2006 it was re-released as a 2 DVD set.
Wearing his trademark bush hat and his ever present guitar, Slim Dusty gave us bush ballads shaped by the land and the Aussie way of life. Often humorous and sometimes sentimental, they touched us in ways that made him finally a successful and a much loved king of country music.