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Judith Durham, lead singer of The Seekers, dies aged 79

Written by Javed Iqbal

“Her struggle was intense and heroic – she never complained about her fate and fully accepted its conclusion. Her magnificent musical legacy Keith, Bruce and I are so blessed to share,” said Guy.

The Seekers performing at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl as part of the Music for The People concerts, 1967.

The Seekers performing at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl as part of the Music for The People concerts, 1967.Credit:Staff photographer

Durham became the lead singer of The Seekers in the early 1960s with their 1964 song I will never find another you reaching number one in Australia and the UK.

Their 1965 hit The carnival is over at its sales peak sold more than 90,000 copies a day. The band’s members were named Australians of the Year in 1967.

The Seekers’ 1967 performance at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl – estimated at 200,000 people – was in the Guinness Book of Records the following year as the largest concert attendance ever in the southern hemisphere.

Durham left the band in 1968 to pursue a solo career and released albums For Christmas with love, The gift of song and Climb Ev’ry Mountain.

George Ash, president of Universal Music Australia, described Durham as a “force of nature”.

“Great artists become part of our fabric and our extended family, and Judith Durham was no exception,” said Ash.

“She was a force of nature, constantly filled with a passion for music and life. We were all privileged to have known Judith and heard her heavenly voice. We are deeply saddened by her passing and will miss her dearly.”

The statement thanked the doctors and nurses at The Alfred hospital for “outstanding care and compassion” and said Durham’s family had asked for privacy at this time.

Tributes began pouring into Durham on Saturday night, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese remembering the singer as a “national treasure and an Australian icon”.

“Her kindness will be missed by many, the anthems she gave to our nation will never be forgotten,” he said.

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Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said Durham had given voice to more than one generation of Australians.

“Durham demonstrated in song after song, concert after concert, how the human voice can reach and move each of us,” Dutton said.

Premier Daniel Andrews paid tribute to Durham, who was named Victorian of the Year in 2015 for her services to music and charity work, for her impact on the music scene in Australia and overseas.

“Her memory will live on not only in her numerous hit songs, but in the hearts of generations of Victorians and Australians,” Andrews said.

Cyrus Meher-Homji, senior vice president of classics and jazz at Universal, said Durham and The Seekers fascinated him as a five-year-old child.

“High above, the dawn awaits you, Judith. Your artistry will forever be enshrined in our souls.”

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Javed Iqbal

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