Judith Durham, the former frontwoman of Australian folk-pop outfit The Seekers, has died at the age of 79.
Her death was confirmed by The Seekers on Saturday (August 6), with the band writing in a statement that Durham passed after a short stay in the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Victoria (a short ways out from her hometown of Essendon). She was admitted into palliative care a day prior, and died as a result of complications from her lengthly struggle with a chronic lung disease.
In a personal statement shared on behalf of her band (which also included guitarists Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley), bassist Athol Guy said: “Our lives are changed forever losing our treasured lifelong friend and shining star. Her struggle was intense and heroic – never complaining of her destiny and fully accepting its conclusion. Her magnificent musical legacy Keith, Bruce and I are so blessed to share.”
Sharing the sentiment was Durham’s sister, Beverley Sheehan, who added: “Judith’s joy for life, her constant optimism, creativity and generosity of spirit were always an inspiration to me.”
It is with overwhelming sadness that Musicoast Pty. Ltd. and Universal Music Australia announces the death of…
Posted by The Seekers on Saturday, August 6, 2022
Durham’s family have asked for privacy in the wake of her passing. Over the weekend, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews announced that – with the blessing of her family – Durham would be honoured at a state funeral. In doing so, he described her as “a true icon of Australian music”, and asserted that “her memory will not only live on in her numerous hit songs, but in the hearts of generations of Victorians and Australians”.
Born in 1943, Durham formed The Seekers with Guy, Potger and Woodley in 1962. They released their first album, ‘Introducing The Seekers’, a year later. The band released a total of 13 albums – the most recent being 2019’s ‘Back To Our Roots’ – however Durham didn’t sing on any of the four released between 1975 and 1989, as she broke the band up to pursue a solo career in 1968, and wasn’t involved for their first two comebacks.
As a solo artist, Durham released 11 studio albums, bookending her catalogue with the Christmas-themed albums ‘For Christmas With love’ (1968) and ‘It’s Christmas Time’ (2013). She also released five live albums, five compilations and one EP as a solo artist, as well as seven live albums, 36 compilations and six TV specials with The Seekers.
The Seekers enjoyed a litany of monumental accolades. In 1967, they were named joint Australians Of The Year. They were inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame in 1995, and the same year, Durham was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). 19 years later (in 2014), each member of the band was individually honoured as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).
Among the many notable figures to share condolences for Durham’s passing was Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who wrote in a statement: “A national treasure and an Australian icon, Judith Durham gave voice to a new strand of our identity and helped blaze a trail for a new generation of Aussie artists. Her kindness will be missed by many, the anthems she gave to our nation will never be forgotten.”
Have a look at Albanese’s statement, as well as some of the other tributes paid to Durham, below:
A national treasure and an Australian icon, Judith Durham gave voice to a new strand of our identity and helped blaze a trail for a new generation of Aussie artists.
Her kindness will be missed by many, the anthems she gave to our nation will never be forgotten.
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) August 6, 2022
Judith Durham was the voice of Australia for a long time. The Seekers had hit after hit record across the world. I thought they had great songs and Judith had a great voice. RIP Judith
By the way this was from the early days of the Jane Barnes Band
Full video on my FB page pic.twitter.com/Nyh7Y98Li6
— Jimmy Barnes (@JimmyBarnes) August 7, 2022
Oh this is just so sad 😞
Her beautiful, crystalline voice was the naive but knowing siren song of my childhood
Deepest condolences to her loved ones 🙌🙏😞❤️
Judith Durham dead: ‘The Seekers’ singer and legendary Australian music icon, dies aged 79 https://t.co/fZPKZrrBn5
— Magda Szubanski AO (@MagdaSzubanski) August 6, 2022
The carnival is over, and there'll never be another you. RIP Judith Durham.
— Philip Pullman (@PhilipPullman) August 6, 2022
Judith Durham AO has passed away at the age of 79. From her Seekers band mates Bruce, Athol & Keith “Our lives are changed forever losing our treasured lifelong friend and shining star.”
An incredible, magical voice falls silent. #ValeJudithDurham pic.twitter.com/1JvwfouVry
— Angela Bishop OAM (@AngelaBishop) August 6, 2022
Vale Judith Durham 🖤
The team here at the National Portrait Gallery would like to pay tribute to Judith and extend our sincere condolences to her family and friends.
[🎨 The Seekers Reunite 50 Years On, 2011 by Helen Edwards © Helen Edwards] pic.twitter.com/58COq9kvhp
— National Portrait Gallery (@PortraitAu) August 8, 2022
Once,the best known Australian voice was Judith Durham’s. With the Seekers and solo Judith earned her place as an icon of our music. In 1967 10% of the Melbourne population attended a single gig. What a contribution. What a loss.
I am Australian will be played forever.
— Tony Burke (@Tony_Burke) August 6, 2022
The Carnival is over.
I will never forget it.
Vale most brilliant one.
Most original one. https://t.co/lFAeKzwZ5T
A sad sad day.#judithdurham
— Julia Zemiro (@julia_zemiro) August 6, 2022
A short #JudithDurham thread. I did what turned out to be one of her last interviews, back in 2019 when she was inducted in to the Australian Women In Music Honour Roll. We spent a lovely July afternoon at her Melbourne home. https://t.co/Osmz2zI4dK #RIPJudithDurham
— Neil McMahon (@NeilMcMahon) August 6, 2022