JUDITH DURHAM * ATHOL GUY * KEITH POTGER * BRUCE WOODLEY
Australians Of The Year 1967 and ARIA Hall Of Fame inductees, The Seekers first performed together in 1962. They became Australia’s first international supergroup, topping charts around the world with hits like “Georgy Girl” (Academy Award® nominated), “The Carnival Is Over” (No. 7 in the Top 10 UK Hits of the 60s) and “I’ll Never Find Another You” (to date more than 7 million hits on YouTube.com). Famous for putting Australia on the international pop music map with their unique pop sound, singing in four-part harmony playing 6 and 12-string acoustic guitars and double bass, The Seekers still hold the record for the biggest concert crowd in the southern hemisphere – 200,000 – in March 1967.
When we trace the history of contemporary Australian music, we find it is four young people from Melbourne who started the ball rolling internationally for all the other big name Australian artists.
Starting out as a folk and gospel group, The Seekers – featuring the golden voice of Judith Durham, Athol Guy, Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley – set sail in 1964 for a working holiday, totally unaware of the global fame and fortune that lay ahead. They sang for their supper on a cruise liner, planning a 10-week turnaround based in the UK, and sent their album and photographs ahead. On arrival in London, agent Eddie Jarrett booked them on national TV shows, and in variety theatre and clubs all over the UK.
Jarrett teamed The Seekers with songwriter/producer Tom Springfield (ex-Springfields and brother of Dusty). Tom wrote the melodious ‘I’ll Never Find Another You’ to suit the group’s distinctive harmony blend, highlighting Judith’s bell-like voice; recording in mono (stereo came later) at the famous Abbey Road Studios, enhancing the boys’ acoustic instrumentation with percussion.
By February ‘65 the single reached No.1 in Britain, Australia and throughout the world. The Seekers had created history as the first Australian group to crack the American charts and the UK ‘beat’ scene had been turned on its ear by these clean-cut Aussies. The Seekers were named ‘Best New Group’ at the ‘Top Of The Pops Awards’.
They toured internationally, with more chart-topping hits over the next three years: ‘A World Of Our Own’; ‘Someday, One Day’ written for them by Paul Simon; Malvina Reynolds’ lullaby ‘Morningtown Ride’; ‘Walk With Me’; ‘When Will The Good Apples Fall?’; and ‘The Carnival Is Over’ which knocked The Rolling Stones’ ‘Get Off Of My Cloud’ from No.1 by selling 90,000 copies a day!
The Seekers’ greatest hit, ‘Georgy Girl’, made them the first Australian group to reach No.1 in the USA. It was composed for The Seekers by Tom Springfield with lyrics by actor Jim Dale for the black and white movie ‘Georgy Girl’ starring Lynn Redgrave. The song was nominated for an Oscar.
The Seekers starred in several Australian TV spectaculars: ‘The Seekers At Home’, ‘The Seekers Down Under’ (highest rating (67) music program in Australian TV history), and ‘The World Of The Seekers’ (for TV and cinema release) – all ratings triumphs. A concert in 1967 at Melbourne’s Myer Music Bowl drew a record-shattering crowd of 200,000+ – the largest concert audience ever in the southern hemisphere… representing ten per cent of the entire population of the city at the time!!
The Seekers starred in the New Musical Express ‘All-Star Poll Winners Concert’ at Wembley Arena alongside many other iconic Sixties legends like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds and The Who… and they outsold them all in the first six months of ’66. Later that year, they sang in the ‘Royal Command Performance’ at the ‘London Palladium’, then represented their country at ‘Expo ’67’ in Montreal in the first-ever satellite television broadcast to Australia, and were honoured jointly as ‘Australians Of The Year 1967’.
But after much soul-searching, Judith Durham gave six months’ notice to the other three group members and their manager, and The Seekers’ final London shows in 1968 resulted in a live-in-concert emotional BBC TV spectacular ‘Farewell The Seekers’ watched by a tearful audience of more than 10 million people. The Seekers had gone, but the inevitable “Best Of” album charted for a staggering 125 weeks. Bill Wyman wrote, that for the first time ever, The Rolling Stones could not debut at No.1 with their new album, because The Seekers ‘Best Of’ was outselling ‘Goat’s Head Soup’!
THE NINETIES & BEYOND:
For the next 25 years Judith, Athol, Keith and Bruce found fulfilment individually, while the “spirit of the group” grew more and more legendary around the world; fans of all ages continually begged The Seekers to perform “one more time”. Many new young fans hoped all their lives they might see their idols one day in the flesh. So in 1993, causing unprecedented excitement, Judith, Athol, Keith and Bruce announced they were reuniting for ‘The Silver Jubilee Tour’ and under the guidance of manager John Kovac, the magic continued with CD and video releases (videos were an Eighties invention!); the ’25 Year Reunion Celebration – Live In Concert’ CD went platinum; and the quadruple-platinum video was the biggest-selling music video in Australia’s history knocking the reissue of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ from No.1!!
In the UK, overwhelmingly emotional sell-out concerts followed in 1994 and 1995 at London’s ‘Royal Albert Hall’ and ‘Wembley Arena’, and in 1995 The Seekers were inducted by Peter Asher into Australia’s ‘ARIA Hall Of Fame’… the group that first put Australia on the international pop music map.
The Seekers toured extensively again: in 1997 to celebrate their first studio album in 30 years ‘Future Road’, including a ‘Making Of’ video; in 2000 ‘The Carnival Of Hits’ world tour; and in 2003 the Never Say Never Again tour to round out the decade. Their audiences still included fans as young as 3 years old to 23, 53, and 93 years young, all joining in the rhythms and singing all the words with gusto – just like it always was in the Sixties.
In the new Milennium, further significant albums were released: in 2001, the first-ever Seekers’ Christmas album ‘Morningtown Ride To Christmas’; in 2002, the group’s first-ever double CD ‘Night Of Nights…Live’; and in 2003, 25 timeless and uplifting tracks were chosen by the group themselves for the Australian compilation ‘The Ultimate Collection, executive produced by Graham Simpson. They included Bruce’s iconic composition “I Am Australian”, and the newly-recorded “Massachusetts” thereby fulfilling an early dream of The Bee Gees (in 1969, Maurice Gibb had told an astonished Judith that when The Bee Gees first arrived in London they tried in vain to get “Massachusetts” to The Seekers to record as a Seekers hit!)
Seekers videos were then released on DVD including ‘25 Year Reunion Celebration – Live In Concert’ with bonuses ‘Future Road : The Video’ and the rare film clip ‘Far Shore’, ‘The Seekers At Home And Down Under’ and ‘The World Of The Seekers’. But fans of all ages were not ready to say goodbye to the group yet, and in July 2004, The Seekers once again bowed to public demand and undertook their ‘Four Decades Of Gold’ Australia and New Zealand tour.
In 2006, The Seekers were given the “Key To The City” of Melbourne and in 2008, The Seekers’ 1965 No.1 hit ‘The Carnival Is Over’ was named No.30 in the ‘UK Official Top 100 Best-Selling Singles Of All Time’.
The Seekers (with ‘The Carnival Is Over’) now rank No. 6 in the official BBC Radio 2 chart of the “Biggest-Selling Chart Stars of the 1960s”, placing them above The Rolling Stones (with “The Last Time” at No. 36), Elvis Presley (with “It’s Now Or Never” at No. 9), Tom Jones (with “Green, Green Grass Of Home” at No. 10) and Cliff Richard & The Shadows (with “The Young Ones” at No. 14) and even The Beatles’ (with “Hey Jude” at No. 20 – although admittedly The Beatles rank at No’s. 1, 2, 4 and 5 too!)
In 2010, The Seekers were surprised and delighted to be invited by Andre Rieu to join his tour and, putting their individual projects on hold for the extravaganza, they reunited to tour Australia and New Zealand as special guests of Andre and his Johann Strauss Orchestra.
In 2012, The Seekers went back into the recording studio to record two new tracks – “Silver Threads And Golden Needles” and “In My Life” – to take pride of place on their newest compilation, ‘The Golden Jubilee Album : 50 Tracks For Fifty Years”. They were honoured by Australia Post with a ‘Legends Of Australian Music’ postage stamp in January 2013, Helen Edwards’ portrait ‘The Seekers Reunite 50 Years On’ was displayed in the National Portrait Gallery in April, and now … the world can truly celebrate The Seekers’ milestone as December 3 2012 marked 50 years since the four original members – Judith Durham, Athol Guy, Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley – first met and performed together – and they hit the road in May 2013 with ‘The Golden Jubilee Tour’ … still rockin’, rollin’, ridin’ after half a century!
The Seekers staggering achievements are …
- Judith Durham, Athol Guy, Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley are joint ‘Australians Of The Year 1967’
- The Seekers celebrate their 50th birthday on 4 December, 2012 (1962-2012)
- The only surviving chart-topping band from the 60s, anywhere in the world, with all the original founding members …
- … and still performing and recording after half a century!
- The first group ever to reach No. 1 on the UK charts with their first three singles
- … not even Michael Jackson or Madonna achieved that
- The first Australian group to reach No. 1 in USA (Georgy Girl)
- … not even Little River Band or AC/DC can claim that!
- The first Australian group to reach No. 1 in UK (I’ll Never Find Another You)
- … not even The Easybeats or INXS can claim that!
- The first Australian group ever to reach No. 1 in UK with a debut record (I’ll Never Find Another You)
- … not even The Rolling Stones or The Beatles achieved that!
- “The Carnival Is Over” (No. 1 hit):
- outsold everyone including The Beatles and The Rolling Stones
- No. 7 in Top Ten UK Hits Of The 60s
- No. 30 in ‘UK Top 100 Best Selling Singles Of All Time’
- No. 34 in UK million selling singles of all time
- “I’ll Never Find Another You” (No. 1 hit):
- currently 7 million+ hits on YouTube
- “Georgy Girl” (No. 1 hit):
- nominated for an Academy Award ‘Best Original Song’
- Quadruple platinum for their ’25 Year Reunion Celebration’ live in concert video 1994
- … it knocked Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ 10th Anniversary video off the Number One spot
- The only concert artists to ever draw a crowd of more than 200,000 people to a concert in the southern hemisphere!
- … it’s in the history books!
- Record holders for Australian television ratings
- … a 67 rating for their 1967 TV spectacular ‘The Seekers Down Under’
- ARIA Hall Of Fame inductees 1995
- ‘Key To The City’ of Melbourne presented to The Seekers 2006
- Awarded their own Australia Post ‘Legends Of Australian Music’ postage stamp, 2013