Slim Dusty's Bio



Birth name               David Gordon Kirkpatrick

Born                           13 June 1927

                                    Nulla Nulla Creek, New South Wales, Australia

Died                            19 September 2003 (aged 76)

                                    Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Genres                       Country

Occupation               Singer, songwriter, guitarist

Instruments             Vocals, guitar

Years active              1943–2003

Labels                        Regal Zonophone, EMI

Associated acts

                                    Joy McKean

                                    Anne Kirkpatrick

                                    Smoky Dawson

                                    Buddy Williams

                                    The Wiggles

                                    South Kempsey Boys (SKB) Shorty Ranger

Slim Dusty AO MBE (born David Gordon Kirkpatrick; 13 June 1927 – 19

September 2003) was an Australian country music singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer, who was an Australian cultural icon and one of the country's most awarded stars, with a career spanning nearly seven decades, the archetypical "Father of Country Music". He was known to record songs in the legacy of Australian bush poets Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson that represented the Australian bush lifestyle, coined the bush ballad, a style first made popular by Buddy Williams, the first artist to perform the genre in Australia, and also for his many trucking songs.


The King of Country Music Slim Dusty's road to success:

1927: David Gordon "Slim Dusty" Kirkpatrick born on Friday, June 13 in Kempsey on the NSW mid-north coast.

1937: Wrote first song at age 10 titled The Way the Cowboy Dies.

1938: Decides to call himself Slim Dusty at age 11.

1942: Gatecrashes local Kempsey radio station; personally records two songs.

1944: First professional performance at the Kempsey Show for 10 bob.

1946: Signs first recording contract with the Columbia Graphophone


1949: Continues to make a name for himself playing in local tent shows and halls.

1950: Travels to Sydney and meets popular McKean Sisters, Heather

and Joy

1951: Marries Joy McKean

1954: The travelling country variety show The Slim Dusty Show is


1957: The Pub With No Beer is recorded and becomes an international success, soaring to the top of the Australian and Irish charts.

1969: First international tour of The Slim Dusty Show, travels to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

1970: Inducted as a Member of the British Empire (MBE).

1973: Receives Golden Guitar at the first Tamworth Australasian Country Music Awards, his wife Joy McKean wins APRA Song of the Year.

1976: 100th single released.

1981: Becomes first Australian to have a song - Waltzing Matilda - played from space to earth by astronauts.

1984: The film, The Slim Dusty Movie is released.

1996: Notches up 50 years recording with EMI.

1997: Slim and Joy perform at the Grand Ole Opry, in Nashville, Tennessee.

1998: Awarded nation's highest honour, an AO in the Order of


2000: 100th album released.

2001: Undergoes successful surgery to remove a kidney.

2003: Dies September 19 at his Sydney home.


David Gordon Kirkpatrick, professionally renowned as Slim Dusty, was a celebrated Australian country music singer and songwriter, whose career spanned around seven decades. Considered a true cultural icon of Australia, his music glorifies and celebrates the spirit of Australia. He is the quintessential ‘Father of County Music’ and has penned down over one thousand songs, recorded over hundred albums and sold over five million copies of these albums in the past seven decades earning more than seventy gold and platinum certifications.

He is presumably the only artist to have recorded music on several formats starting from 78rpm to cassettes to DVDs and even on iTunes and ringtones. Some of his notable albums are ‘Slim Dusty Sings’, ‘G’Day, G’Day’ and ‘Beer Drinking Songs of Australia’. Many of his remarkable songs have become unofficial Australian anthems, most strikingly ‘A Pub with No Beer’ that made him the first Australian artist to receive a gold record. He is the recipient of the ‘Golden Guitar’ for an unparallel 37 times for his excellence in Australian country music. He has received the ‘Australian Recording Industry Association’ (‘ARIA’) award twice. He was included in the ‘Country Music Roll of Renown’ as also in the ‘ARIA Hall of Fame’. During the closing ceremony of ‘Olympic Games’ in 2000, Sydney, he performed the Australian bush ballad, ‘Waltzing Matilda’. Considered as ‘Australian National Treasure’,

Slim Dusty was the first Australian to have a Number 1 international hit song, with a version of Gordon Parsons' "A Pub with No Beer". He received an unequalled 37

Golden Guitar and two Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) awards and was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame and the Country Music Roll of Renown. At the time of his death, at the age of 76, Dusty had been working on his 106th album for EMI Records. In 2007, his domestic record sales in Australia surpassed seven million. During his lifetime, Dusty was considered an Australian National Treasure. He performed "Waltzing Matilda", Australia's national song, at the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

Childhood & Early Life

 Slim Dusty was born on June 13, 1927 in Nulla Nulla Creek, New South Wales, in the   family of a cattle farmer and amateur musician, 'Noisy Dan’.

 His father introduced him to music and at ten he wrote his first song, ‘The Way The Cowboy Dies’. The very next year he adopted ‘Slim Dusty’ as his stage name and after a while started performing regularly on local radio along with childhood friend Shorty Ranger (Edwin Haberfield).

He was an enthusiast of country music and was inspired by works of Buddy Williams, Tex Morton and Jimmie Rodgers.

In 1942, his father organised an audition for him at Sydney’s ‘Columbia Records’. Though two songs were recorded but they failed to strike a chord with music lovers.

He and Ranger began touring along with tent show groups till 1945 when Dusty had to return home following the sudden demise of his father. He started taking care of the family farm but still nurtured the dream of taking forward his musical career.

He signed his first contract in 1946 with ‘Columbia Gramophone’ on the ‘Regal Zonophone’ label and recorded six songs one of which, ‘When the Rain Tumbles Down in July’ was a hit.


Rise to fame and enduring popularity


On December 31st, 1951, he married Joy McKean, a singer and songwriter, who became his lifelong partner both in music and in personal life. She remained his manager for over five decades and penned down many of his hit songs including ‘Indian Pacific’,  ‘The Biggest Disappointment’, ‘The Angel of Goulburn Hill’, Kelly's Offsider’ and Walk A Country Mile’.

The couple led their musical journey together for decades, and were blessed with two children, daughter Anne, born in 1952 and son David, born in 1958, both of whom are gifted singers and songwriters.

Even though a skilled songwriter himself, he sung songs of many other writers including Gordon Parsons, Kelly Dixon, Stan Coster and Mack Cormack. Apart from these, Dusty had also recorded poems in new tunes by prominent Australian poets, Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson.

In 1954, Dusty and McKean launched his first travelling show, the ‘Slim Dusty Travelling show’.

He and showman Frankie Foster set up a partnership in 1956 and started touring as a big tent show. The partnership, however, ended in 1963.

Albeit huge sales of records, country music took a back stage as rock and roll arrived with leading urban music stations mostly airing the new entrant. As a result post 1950s, Dusty’s songs were also heard rarely in urban stations.

Slim Dusty's hit "A Pub With No Beer", inspired by the Lees Hotel, Ingham In 1951, Dusty married singer-songwriter Joy McKean and, with her help, achieved great success around Australia. In 1954, the two launched a full-time business career, including the Slim Dusty Travelling Show. McKean was Dusty's wife and manager for over 50 years. Together the couple had two children, Anne Kirkpatrick and David Kirkpatrick who are also accomplished singer-songwriters. Joy McKean wrote several of Dusty's most popular songs, including: "Walk a Country Mile", "Indian Pacific", "Kelly's Offsider", "The Angel of Goulburn Hill" and "The Biggest Disappointment". Although himself an accomplished writer of songs, Dusty had a number of other songwriters, including Mack Cormack, Gordon Parsons, Stan Coster, and Kelly Dixon, who were typically short on formal education but big on personal experience of the Australian bush.

Drawing on his travels and such writers over a span of decades, Dusty chronicled the story of a rapidly changing postwar Australian nation. Nevertheless, the arrival of rock and roll music saw major metropolitan music radio stations abandon support for country artists, and despite record sales in the multimillions, after the 1950s, Dusty was rarely heard on-air outside regional centres in Australia.

Slim Dusty's 1957 hit "A Pub with No Beer" was the biggest-selling record by an Australian to that time, the first Australian single to go gold and the first and only 78 rpm record to be awarded a gold disc. Over his career, he collected more gold and platinum albums than any other Australian artist. (The "Pub with No Beer" is a real place, in Taylors Arm, not far from Kempsey where Slim was born.) In 1959 and 1960, Dutch and German cover versions of the song became number one hits (even evergreens) in Belgium, Austria and Germany, brought by the Flemish country singer-guitarist and amusement park founder Bobbejaan Schoepen.

The first full-length album of Dusty, ‘Slim Dusty Sings’ was released in 1960.

In 1964 the annual Slim Dusty Australia-round tour, a 48,280 kilometres (30,000 miles) journey that went on for ten months, was started. This regular event was the subject of a feature film, The Slim Dusty Movie, in 1984.

Slim Dusty recorded not only songs written by himself and other fellow Australian performers but also classic Australian poems by Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson, with new tunes to call attention to the old "bush ballads". An example is "The Man from Snowy River" by Paterson. In 1970, he was made a member of the Order of the British Empire for services to music.

In 1979 he published his autobiography, ‘Walk a Country Mile’, which eventually emerged as a bestseller in Australia. An album that was released with the same title went platinum.

In 1981, the 50th album of Dusty, ‘The Golden Anniversary Album’ achieved multi-platinum status in Australia.

In 1983 he became the first ever singer in the world whose voice was beamed to Earth from space when the Australian bush ballad ‘Waltzing Matilda’ recorded in his voice was played by astronauts John Young and Bob Crippen, while space shuttle ‘Columbia’ passed over the orbit of Australia.

In 1984, Rob Stewart directed a feature film, ‘The Slim Dusty Movie’, portraying early life and career of Dusty. It starred Dusty, Joy McKean, their children Anne and David as themselves, while Jon Blake played young Dusty. The film grossed $225,000 at the Australian box office.

He received countless awards during 1970 to 1990s.

He co-founded the ‘Country Music Association of Australia’ (‘CMAA’) in 1992 and became its Chairman. Later in 2001 he became the honorary president of the association.

 In 1973, he won Best Single at the inaugural Country Music Awards of Australia at the Tamworth Country Music Festival (McKean won Song of the Year as writer of "Lights on the Hill"). In all, he won a record 37 "Golden Guitars" over the years.

Golden Guitar Awards:



APRA Song of the Year

Lights On The Hill – Joy McKean, recorded by Slim Dusty (EMI)

Album of the Year

Me & My Guitar – Slim Dusty (EMI)

Best EP or Single

Lights On The Hill – Slim Dusty (EMI)



Album of the Year

Live At Tamworth – Slim Dusty (EMI)



APRA Song of the Year

Biggest Disappointment – Joy McKean, recorded by Slim Dusty (EMI)

Album of the Year

Australiana – Slim Dusty (EMI)

Male Vocalist of the Year

Slim Dusty – Biggest Disappointment (EMI)



Top Selling

Worst In The World – Slim Dusty (EMI)

Album of the Year

Lights On The Hill – Slim Dusty (EMI)



APRA Song of the Year

Three Rivers Hotel – Stan Coster, recorded by Slim Dusty (EMI)

Top Selling

Things I See Around Me – Slim Dusty (EMI)

Album of the Year

Angel Of Goulburn Hill – Slim Dusty (EMI)

Male Vocalist of the Year

Slim Dusty – Angel Of Goulburn Hill (EMI)



APRA Song of the Year

Indian Pacific – Joy McKean, recorded by Slim Dusty (EMI)

Top Selling

Indian Pacific – Slim Dusty (EMI)



APRA Song of the Year

Beat Of The Government Stroke – Tom Oliver/Joy McKean, recorded by Slim Dusty(EMI)

Male Vocalist of the Year

Slim Dusty – Marty (EMI)

Roll of Renown

Slim Dusty



Top Selling

Walk A Country Mile – Slim Dusty (EMI)

Album of the Year

Walk A Country Mile – Slim Dusty (EMI)



Top Selling

The Man Who Steadies The Lead – Slim Dusty (EMI)

Album of the Year

The Man Who Steadies The Lead – Slim Dusty (EMI)



Heritage Award

Slim Dusty – Where Country Is (EMI)



Heritage Award

Slim Dusty – Banjo’s Man (EMI/Columbia)



Album of the Year

On The Wallaby – Slim Dusty (EMI)

Heritage Award

Slim Dusty – Australia’s On The Wallaby (EMI)



Top Selling

Trucks On The Track – Slim Dusty (EMI)

Album of the Year

Trucks On The Track – Slim Dusty (EMI)



APRA Song of the Year

He’s A Good Bloke When He’s Sober – Stan Coster (recorded by Slim Dusty, EMI)

Heritage Award

Slim Dusty – Mount Buckaroo (EMI)



Album of the Year

Neon City – Slim Dusty (EMI)



APRA Song of the Year

We’ve Done Us Proud – Graeme Connors (Recorded by Slim Dusty, EMI)

Heritage Award

Slim Dusty – We’ve Done Us Proud (writer, Graeme Connors, EMI)



Top Selling

Two Singers, One Song – Slim Dusty & Anne Kirkpatrick (EMI)

Album of the Year

Coming Home – Slim Dusty (EMI)



APRA Song of the Year

Things Are Not The Same On The Land – Bill Chambers, recorded by Slim Dusty (EMI)



Vocal Group or Duo of the Year

Lee Kernaghan & Slim Dusty – Leave Him In The Longyard (ABC)



Bush Ballad of the Year

Must’ve Been A Hell Of A Party – Slim Dusty, written by Slim Dusty & Tom Oliver(EMI:Kirkpatrick/Oliver)


Heritage Song of the Year

Old Time Country Halls – Slim Dusty (EMI:Slim Dusty Enterprises)



Bush Ballad of the Year

Lady Is A Truckie – written by Joy McKean, recorded by Slim Dusty – EMI (Slim Dusty Enterprises)



Top Selling Album of the Year

Looking Forward Looking Back – Slim Dusty (EMI)

Bush Ballad of the Year

 Paddy William – Slim Dusty, written by Norma O’Hara Murphy (EMI)

Video Clip of the Year

Looking Forward Looking Back – Slim Dusty (EMI)

New Talent of the Year

Sara Storer – Buffalo Bill (ABC)



Bush Ballad of the Year

West Of Winton – Slim Dusty, written by Ray Rose (EMI)



Bush Ballad of the Year

Just An Old Cattle Dog -­ Slim Dusty, written by Norma O’Hara Murphy

(Capitol Records/EMI)



Video Clip of the Year

Get Along – Slim Dusty, directed by Molotov Productions


Slim Dusty and his wife, Joy McKean were patrons of the National Truck Drivers' Memorial located in Tarcutta, New South Wales.

The general manager of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, Bob Whitaker, invited him and Joy to perform in 1997, recognising 50 years contributing to country music. The following January, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for his service to the entertainment industry.

He made history in 2000 by becoming the first singer to record and release his hundredth album, ‘Looking Forward, Looking Back’. He recorded all the hundred albums with the same record label, ‘EMI’, which was also a world record.

In 2000 and became the first artist in worldwide commercial recording history to do so; second was Cliff Richard. All 100 albums had been recorded with the same record label, EMI, making Slim Dusty the very first music artist in the world to record 100 albums with the same label. He was then given the honour of singing Waltzing Matilda in the Closing Ceremony of the 2000 Summer Olympics, with the whole stadium (officially 114,714 in attendance, the largest in Olympic history) singing along with him.

He was last working on ‘Columbia Lane – the Last Sessions’, his 106th album for ‘EMI’. On March 8, 2004, posthumously, the album reached number one position on the country charts and later went gold.

Major Works

In 1957 he recorded his most remarkable song, ‘A Pub with no Beer’ that soon charted as the best-selling record by an Australian singer. The song was the first Australian single that went gold and remained the sole 78rpm record that won a gold disc. The Dutch and German cover versions of the song that were released by Flemish country singer Bobbejaan Schoepen in 1959 and 1960 emerged as number one hit song in Germany, Belgium and Austria.


Slim Dusty died at his home in St Ives, New South Wales, on 19 September 2003 at the age of 76 after a protracted battle with lung and kidney cancer.

Thousands gathered at St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney, on 26 September 2003 at a state funeral attended by the Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, and the federal opposition leader, Simon Crean. The Anglican Dean of Sydney, Phillip

Jensen paid tribute by leading the congregation of family, statesmen, fans and musicians in the singing of "A Pub With No Beer". The funeral featured tributes from Dusty's children as well as words from other national musicians (Peter Garrett and John Williamson) and music from Graeme Connors, Kasey Chambers and Troy Cassar-Daley. Thousands of fans travelled from around Australia to stand outside the cathedral. He was cremated at Northern Suburbs Crematorium, Sydney.

At the time of his death, Slim Dusty had been working on his 106th album for EMI. The album, Columbia Lane – the Last Sessions, debuted at number five in the Australian album charts and number one on the country charts on 8 March 2004. It went gold after being on sale for less than two weeks.

Columbia Lane is a tribute to the laneway juxtaposed to Parramatta Road in Strathfield (near the railway bridge link), where the EMI studios once stood (now Kennards Hire), and it is where he traversed to begin his music career.

In 2004, Tamworth hosted the "Concert for Slim" as a memorial tribute featuring more than 30 Australian musical artists including Paul Kelly, Keith Urban, Lee Kernaghan and Kasey Chambers

In 2005, a statue of the "Cunumulla Fella" was unveiled in Cunnamulla, Queensland, in tribute to Slim Dusty and Stan Coster and to the iconic song of that name performed by Dusty with lyrics by Coster. The song recalls Coster's

days working as a sheep-shearing "ringer" around Cunnamulla in the 1950s. Slim Dusty recorded the song and it became an enduring country music hit, later covered by Lee Kernaghan. The statue was unveiled by country music personalities Anne Kirkpatrick (Dusty's daughter), Jayne Kelly, and Tracy and Russell Coster.

EMI Records' Australian sales of Slim Dusty's records surpassed seven million in


The Wiggles dedicated his death on their "Top of the Tots" video as well as Jane

Hill's death

Honours and milestones

Slim Dusty was Australia's most successful and prolific musical artist, with more Gold and Platinum albums than any other Australian artist. Slim Dusty was also:[

  • The first Australian to receive a Gold Record.

  • The first Australian to have an international record hit (A Pub with No Beer).

  • Made a Member of the Order of the British Empire and an Officer of the Order of Australia for services to entertainment.

  • The first artist broadcast from space when astronauts played his rendition of Waltzing Matilda from Space Shuttle Columbia as it passed over Australia on its maiden flight in 1981.

  • The winner of an unequalled 38 Golden Guitar awards from 72 nominations at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

  • One of the earliest members of Australia's country music Roll of Renown.

  • The achiever of more Gold Record and Platinum Record Awards than any other Australian artist.

  • Inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame and the ARIA Special Achievement Award.

  • The Royal Australian Mint issued a coin celebrating his life.

  • Slim Dusty 's image was featured on an Australia Post, postage stamp


  • EMI Records' Australian sales of Slim Dusty records surpassed 7 million in 2007.

  • Slim Dusty was a guest on the Wiggles' children DVD "Wiggly Wiggly World".

  • His daughter Anne Kirkpatrick is also an award-winning country singer.

  • Slim's life was the subject of a 1984 feature film: The Slim Dusty Movie

  • The Slim Dusty Centre was built in Kempsey, NSW, Slim's home town and opened in October 2015.

  • The 2010 book 100 Best Australian Albums by Toby Creswell, Craig Mathieson and John O'Donnell ranked The Very Best of Slim Dusty as the 24th best Australian album of the last 50 years.

  • Slim Dusty had a Floribunda Rose named in his honour, which is a Golden Orange Coppery toned bloom, reminiscent of the Australian Outback, that Slim often wrote and sang about.



Some of his albums


A complete list of Slim Dusty's albums


An Alphabetical Listing of Slim Dusty's album song