50 years of The Seekers The Seekers are among Australia's most successful bands.
JADE LAZAREVIC talks to Judith Durham about their humble ray ban latest sunglasses beginnings and the highs and lows of life on the world stage. Judith Durham looks back on it as fate. In a South Yarra coffee house on December 4, 1962, the petite brunette with the powerful, pure voice sang with Athol Guy, Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley for the first time, laying the foundation of a union that would remain strong 50 years on as The Seekers. Last year, on the exact date of the group's 50th anniversary, the four piece reunited to officially announce a national concert tour and accompanying album The Golden Jubilee Album 50 Tracks For 50 Years, which contains two newly recorded songs, including a cover of The Beatles' reflective 1965 classic In My Life. Speaking to Weekender from Melbourne on a day of interviews, Durham, 69, is humble as she recounts her incredible journey with the folk pop band that became the first Australian group to achieve major chart and sales success in the UK and the US. A singer trained in classical and jazz, Durham met double bassist Athol Guy on her first day of work as a secretary at J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in Melbourne on December 4, 1962. Word spread around the office that she was a singer so Guy invited her to join him that evening at Prahran coffee lounge The Treble Clef, where he performed with two friends from high school, Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley on Monday nights. "When I said I was a singer, the girls ray ban 8304 said: 'There's another singer in the office. His name's Athol Guy,"' Durham recalls. "Of course I knew who he was and I had talked to him on the phone once and he was going to come and hear me sing, so it was like destiny plonked me. He couldn't avoid hearing me sing then. "He said: 'Come along and sing with us tonight, have a bit of fun.' So that's what I did. It must have been a pretty big day when you think I had a new job to start that day and then went along and rayban glasses sang with them that night." She pauses in thought. "It's incredible isn't it? People would think you had made it up to say that was the beginning of us becoming international stars," Durham says. "Oh, heavens above! You couldn't plan it; you wouldn't start it that way. You'd have auditioned girls to take to the group but that didn't happen. I was just put in their path." Durham estimates 30 to 40 people watched on that night but conceded she was too busy concentrating on trying to harmonise with "the boys", as she affectionately still calls them, to recall exactly. "I was quite in awe of the fact that they were three great looking guys and they were so polished," she laughs. "I thought 'Wow! I'm here!' I was just in awe of it all. It was quite an upmarket place for me. "I wasn't used to going to anything [adopts posh accent] sophisticated so for me, it was quite special. "And a new style of music. I'd sung with double bass in jazz bands but the combination of double bass with guitar and banjo, I'd never experienced before." The group developed a small following, performing at the venue on Monday evenings for another year while still working day jobs. In those days they did it for the pure joy. "We shared 12 between us," Durham says. "Nobody ever thought of the pop charts." It was through Keith Potger's position as a producer for ABC Radio that the group was able to lay down a demo tape in their lunch hours. It was this tape that Durham produced when Australian label W records, which had agreed to record an album for the jazz group she sang in (Jazz Preachers), asked to hear a sample of her voice. W were impressed enough to sign The Seekers for an album, Introducing The Seekers. The album led to television appearances and in 1964 they received an offer to perform as the resident band on a cruise ship bound for England where they planned to spend 10 weeks. They arrived to find they had already landed airplay and a gig on their first night, so signed a deal with a London booking agent at the promise of securing further work. When they were ray ban warrior offered a song, written by Tom Springfield, brother of singer Dusty Springfield, titled I'll Never Find Another You, they headed to Abbey Road studios to lay down the track.
In February 1965, the song topped the charts, making it the first song by an Australian group to hit number one in England. It was the first of three consecutive singles to reach the top of the UK charts and left Durham then just 21 with the daunting task of explaining to her family back home that she was unsure when she would return. "It was pretty devastating for mum because she was going to miss me, and my sister was away as well," Durham recalls.
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