Australian singer Judith Durham of folk group The Seekers has died aged 79.
The songstress passed away on Friday night following a long battle with chronic lung disease.
She had been in palliative care at the Alfred Hospital before her death from complications with the disease.
Durham, born in 1943 in Melbourne, gained international fame with upbeat hits like Georgy Girl and a series of covers and collaborations with the likes of Paul Simon.
Her Seekers bandmates Keith Potger, Bruce Woodley, and Athol Guy called her a ‘lifelong friend’ in a shared statement.
‘Our lives are changed forever losing our treasured lifelong friend and shining star,’ they said.
‘Her struggle was intense and heroic – never complaining of her destiny and fully accepting its conclusion. Her magnificent musical legacy Keith, Bruce and [Athol] are so blessed to share.’
Australian singer Judith Durham of folk group The Seekers has died aged 79. Judith pictured performing in 2013
Folk-pop legends The Seekers are pictured in 1964. The group are best known for their hits like I’ll Never Find Another You and Georgy Girl
A smiling Judith celebrates her 75th birthday with a cake themed around her compilation album, So Much More
The Seekers were best known for their hits I’ll Never Find Another You and Georgy Girl.
The quartet made their debut in 1963 and quickly made history as the first Australian pop act to have major crossover success in the UK and America.
They famously performed on The Ed Sullivan Show multiple times and in 1966 they performed in front of the Queen Mother Elizabeth at the London Palladium.
The Seekers have sold over 50million records throughout their career.
They were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1996 and received the Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2014.
At home, The Seekers are still a household name and are well known to younger Australians for the song I am an Australian, which is still the theme song of the country’s public broadcaster ABC.
Outside of The Seekers, Judith pursued a solo career with albums including Climb Ev’ry Mountain and Let Me Find Love.
Judith married musical director, British pianist Ron Edgeworth, in 1969.
Edgeworth died in 1994 following a battle with motor neurone disease, and Judith spent many years afterwards raising awareness around the disease.
‘Ron was a tremendous optimist and thought his body would heal itself. He’d always believed that he would live to 120 and that I, with my lung condition, would fall off the perch about 60,’ she told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2010.
A young Judith is pictured juicing carrots in a promotional photo from 1971
Her Seekers bandmates Keith Potger, Bruce Woodley, and Athol Guy called her a ‘lifelong friend’ in a shared statement. All pictured together in 2016
The Seekers are pictured performing in front of the Queen Mother Elizabeth at the London Palladium in 1966
The Seekers on Thank Your Lucky Stars TV programme circa 1961 – 1966
Tributes flowed for the beloved singer, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese describing Durham as ‘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,’ Albanese wrote on Twitter.
‘Her kindness will be missed by many, the anthems she gave to our nation will never be forgotten.’
In her home state Victoria, Premier Dan Andrews said Durham had conquered the music world both in Australia and overseas.
‘With her unique voice and stage presence leading The Seekers, the band became one of Australia’s biggest chart toppers,’ he said.
‘This is a sad day for Judith’s family, her fellow Seekers, the staff of Musicoast, the music industry and fans worldwide, and all of us who have been part of Judith’s life for so long,’ said The Seekers’ management team member Graham Simpson.
George Ash, President, Universal Music Australia and New Zealand, praised the late singer-songwriter in an emotional statement on Saturday.
‘Great artists become part of our fabric and our extended family, and Judith Durham was no exception,’ he said.
‘She was a force of nature, constantly energised 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 Seekers were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1996 and received the Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2014
‘We really need music in our lives, it’s the most important thing for all of us to have songs that we can all sing,’ Judith said in 2019. Pictured in 1996
Outside of The Seekers, Judith pursued a solo career with albums including Climb Ev’ry Mountain and Let Me Find Love
‘Once, the best known Australian voice was Judith Durham’s’, said arts minister Tony Burke.
‘With The Seekers and solo Judith earned her place as an icon of our music’, he added.
Burke recounted one 1967 gig that was attended by a tenth of Melbourne’s entire population at the time.
‘What a contribution. What a loss.’
Judith reflected on her legendary career in one of her final interviews with the Today show in 2019.
‘Only in hindsight can I see that I was a trailblazer,’ she said.
‘I’m only finding out now that I was the first to do certain things. I never set out to do that,’ she continued.
‘We really need music in our lives, it’s the most important thing for all of us to have songs that we can all sing. People can join in, in a community spirit.’
‘We were all privileged to have known Judith and heard her heavenly voice,’ her record label said in a statement
The Seekers singer Judith Durham dies aged 79