Photo: Slim Dusty (1927-2003), an iconic figure in the development of Australian music. The biographical material is drawn from the official Slim Dusty site given in the above link.
David Gordon Kirkpatrick was born at Kempsey in the Macleay Valley on 13 June 1927 .
Brought up at a nearby Nulla Nulla Creek dairy farm, he wrote his first song - The Way The Cowboy Dies - in 1937 aged 10. The following year he adopted the stage name Slim Dusty, the name he was to carry all his professional life.
In 1942 the fifteen year old Slim gate-crashed Radio 2KM Kempsey and also made his his first recording at own expense... Song For The Aussies and My Final Song. Also in 1942 he copyrighted his first songs.
Their recent discovery by Australian Archives created national interest. I actually find it quite remarkable that a fifteen year old living in what was then a remote location should have so much foresight, but he was obviously always a very determined boy. For those who are interested, the Australian Archives link includes reproductions of the early material.
In 1945 while still living at Nulla Nulla Creek Slim wrote his first country music classic, When The Rain Tumbles Down In July. This led in 1946 to his first recording contract with the Columbia Graphophone Co. for the Regal Zonophone label. Six titles were recorded, including When The Rain Tumbles Down In July.
From 1948 Slim pursued a part-time show business career with intermittent radio, hall show and tent show appearances. In 1951 he married country singer-songwriter Joy McKean. Daughter Anne Kirkpatrick, herself a well known country musician, was born in 1952 followed by son David in 1958.
From 1954 Slim commenced a full-time show business career, launching the first travelling Slim Dusty Show. Then in 1956 he established in partnership with showman Frankie Foster the Slim Dusty Show as a large tent show on the showground circuit. I remember this from my childhood.
In 1957 Slim recorded the Gordon Parsons written song A Pub With No Beer -- at that time the biggest selling record ever by an Australian. I think most Australians still remember at least some of the opening lines:
From this point came a string of successes, including the 1980 super hit Duncan.
It's lonesome away from your kindred and all
By the campfire at night where the wild dingos call
But there's nothin' so lonesome, so dull or so drear
Than to stand in the bar of a pub with no beer
I love to have a beer with Duncan, I love to have a beer with Dunc
We drink in moderation, and we never, never ever get rolling drunk.
We drink at the Town & Country where the atmosphere is great
I love to have a beer with Duncan ‘cause Duncan’s me mate.
By the time Slim died in 2003 he had achieved true iconic status in Australian popular music. A key reason for this is that he captured the whimsy, the sometimes irreverence, of one stream of the Australian experience.
Now Slim's family and supporters have combined to work towards the establishment of the Slim Dusty Centre in Kempsey to celebrate his life. Those interested can find the details here, including ways to make a tax deductible donation. The Kempsey location is truly fitting, since the Macleay Valley is the place where Slim developed his initial ideas and particular vision.