COUNTRY MUSIC ARTISTS
Floreena Forbes Oam & Country Music Historian
Jack Paten (Drongo Jack )
Donita began her singing career as Heather Turner in the late 1960s. At 17 years of age and then living in Mortlake in Victoria, she performed her first solo singing gig live to air at the Annual Hospital Appeal on Radio 3YB Warrnambool. She then went on to win
the Buddy Williams Talent Show and after that performed at numerous solo gigs around the local district which sometimes included the Cooriemungle Prison Farm.
She then formed her own band known as the Western Ramblers who recorded their first extended play record on their Tower Hill Label featuring “Tower Hill So Beautiful” written by Heather’s father Bill Turner along with another seven compositions also written by him.
The Western Ramblers in total released one Album and two EPs.
In 1971 Heather performed with the Western Ramblers on the National Country Music Hour (The Reg Lindsay TV Show), which was replayed on BTV 6 Ballarat and Channel 9 and who also had their own Radio Show on 3CS Colac. By 1971 she had left the Western Ramblers to go on tour through Tasmania with the Buddy Williams Show where she sang and played both guitar and bass.
After that and having changed her name to Donita Dey, she performed around the Club Circuit in New South Wales where her style of entertainment in playing both modern and county music and hits from all-time greats of that time, proved a great delight to her audiences.
Donita then went on to tour throughout Australia to perform alongside such greats as Frank Ifield, Jay Justin, Col Joye, Digger Revell, Buster Noble, Lucky Star, Johnny Chester, Jade Hurley, Chad Morgan, Slim Dusty, Jimmy Little, Reg Lindsay, Judy Stone, Dinah Lee and Little Pattie and also with other well-known Australian artists. She also performed with the Reg Lindsay Show for many years and was also invited to be part of the television show “This is Your Life” to honour Reg and his career.
Donita spent a great deal of her performing life in America where she toured with such greats as Hank Williams Jr. and David Allan Coe. She sang at the World’s Fair in New Orleans and on television shows, such as on the Grand Ol’ Opry Christmas Special and the Ralph Emery Show out of Nashville. While in America Donita Interviewed many great American artists for various radio stations in Sydney
and some of these artists were Emmy Lou Harris, Carl Perkins, Oakridge Boys, The Osmonds, Joe Diffie, The Belamy Brothers, The Statler Brothers, Jerry Reed, Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, John Schneider, Stella Parton, Mary Reeves (wife of Jim), Richard Carpenter, Robert Fuller, James Burton (lead guitarist for Elvis Presley), Faron Young, Ray Peterson, Brenda Lee, Mel Tillis, Tom T. Hall, Tanya Tucker, Johnny Paycheck, Johnny Rodriquez, Skeeter Davis, Cliff Richards, Chuck Connors, Merle Haggard and Marty Robbins. She also agreed to interview Garth Brooks to coincide with the release of his first album.
Donita specialised in both Country and 50/60s Rock ‘n Roll and her lively stage performances brought out the best in the songs which her audiences loved. While performing at Clint Eastwood’s “Hogs Breath Inn” at Carmel on the San Francisco Bay, Donita was fortunate enough to spend some time conversing with the superstar and to coin a phrase to “make her day.”
Donita also had many successful recordings over the years and one of these was her Australian recording of “Warm Sheets” which she released in California where it became “No. 1” on the Newcomer Chart with extensive airplay. This also put Donita into
the Finals of the Australian Country Music Awards at Tamworth for Best Female Vocalist.
Back in Australia Donita was the guest artist on the “Mike Walsh Show” on several occasions and in the 1980s and 1990s she worked on television productions and commercials. She also became an extra for various movies which included the television show “A Country Practice” during its last five years of production. Donita also appeared regularly on various Country TV shows out of Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and Tamworth and also performed for many charity events and concerts.
In 1995 Donita organised a successful benefit concert at the Wentworthville Leagues Club in Sydney for her old friend Reg Lindsay who at that time was critically ill in hospital. After Donita retired in 1998, she and her husband returned to live in her home town of Mortlake and this is where they now still live happily together in 2021.
In 2017 Donita made a rare comeback to the stage at the Tamworth Music Festival when she came out of retirement to perform a tribute to her old friend the late Reg Lindsay
Rodney Walker & Lynette Guest
Tamworth musician/entertainer Rodney Walker was born and bred in Tamworth, a direct descendent of explorer Gregory Blaxland and Solomon Wiseman (of Wiseman’s Ferry). Rod played ukele as a boy and later learnt guitar and bass in his late teens. He played in dance bands including an indigenous band called Country Shade, later known as Spare Parts. “He loves singing comedy/novelty songs, bush ballads and rock n roll,” Lynette said. Rod played in Country Gold, a popular dance band In Tamworth, playing bass and sometimes he filled in as the drummer.
Years before, the pair first met at the CCMA talent quest which Lynette won. Her singing started at a young age, a regular on the GMV-6 Juniors show (Shepparton, Vic) with host Len Wintour from age 7 –16 years. She was encouraged and guided by her parents during those growing years with her mum teaching her harmonies.
At age 11, she appeared on Brian Naylon Junior’s Show. She also appeared on the Reg Lindsay Show in Adelaide when she was 15. She then performed on John Williamson’s TV show “Travelling Out West” in 1973 which was produced and recorded in Newcastle, pictured below. From a young age, Lynette and her family saw the Buddy Williams Show when they toured the area. After she finished school, at age 17 she toured with the group in 1972 . “We went to every state except Tassie. Lindsay Butler joined us a couple of months late,” she said. In April, Buddy took time off to record his album ”Aussie On My Mind”. “His daughter Karen Williams and I did harmonies on most of the tracks,” Lynette said. While on tour they practised a few song as a duo spot on the Show.
Rodney was involved in the very early days of country music in Tamworth, caretaker of the music equipment between the former club, the Modern Country Music Tamworth club and a past President of the Capital Country Music Association in the early 70s where he is a life member. “Kids needs a platform to sing and get the experience to perform,” Lynette said. “You’ve got to really love singing and playing music and have that great desire to enjoy it. You can keep going for as long as you want. We still perform, travel and meet old friends and make new ones by doing something we love.”
They married in April 1978, soon to celebrate their 43rd wedding anniversary this year. On their honeymoon they followed Murray River to Adelaide, travelling back to Melbourne via the Ocean Rd and then headed up to Tamworth. “A lovely trip,” Lynette said.
“Things were full on, all year round,” she said of the monthly 2TM radio show The Country Muster at the former Tamworth Workers club with guest artists and a backing band in 1981. Lynette and Clelia Adams were the back-up singers. After that, Channel 9 had a live country music show with compere Terry Gordon called Must Be Country with whoever was on tour and a backing band, Lindsay Butler, the late Gary Brown, and the late Norm Bogkin were in the band.
Along came daughter Anita and they kept on performing around the district and festivals in NSW and QLD as well as working the North West slopes and plains, Hunter region, down to Parkes, Rosewood Muster, Condobolin Muster, Texas, Bundaberg and many more. Rodney’s ‘one man band’ now sits in the Australian Country Music Hall of Hall of Fame since his retirement. Lynette continues to play music with her long-time duo partner of 20 years Patti Morgan, along with keeping their solo identities. Along with many others, Patti, Rod and Lynette have performed at many fundraisers including those for the bronze busts in the Bi-centennial park. Their hands are both cemented in the Hands of Fame in Tamworth.
He was born Glen Travis Campbell in Pike Co. Arkansas USA on April 22nd 1936. His parents were John and Carrie Campbell. Glen was one of twelve children and grew up o a farm, growing cotton, corn, watermelon and potatoes. He started playing guitar at the age of four and by the time he was six he was appearing on local radio stations.
It was with no formal training he continued playing the guitar, when he the work in the cotton fields were done. Dropping out of school at age 14, ended up in Houston working alongside he brothers working on gas stations.
In 1954, Glen moved to New Mexico to join his uncle’s band which was known as Dick Bills and the Sandia Mountain Boys. It was here that he met his first wife whom he married prior turning eighteen. In 1958 he formed his own band ‘The Western Wranglers’ performing six or seven nights a week. Moving to Los Angeles in 1960, he became a session musician, and later joining ‘The Champs’. In 1961, Campbell obtained a day-time job at ‘American Music’ (a publishing company), writing songs and recording demos.
As a session musician – he played on recordings by:- Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, The Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Merle Haggard and Elvis. He befriended Elvis when he helped record the soundtrack for Viva Las Vegas in 1964.
May 1961 he left ‘The Champs’ and was signed up by Crest Records and his first solo release ‘Turn Around, Look At Me’ was a moderate success. The following year he signed with Capitol Records, his first single for the new label was ‘Too Late to Worry Too Blue to Cry’. He never learned to read music, but he play guitar, banjo, mandolin and bass.
It was from 1964, Glen appeared on many TV shows including a regular spot on Star Route and Hollywood Jamboree. Around Christmas 1964 for 3 months who toured with the Beach Boys filling in for Brian Wilson playing Bass guitar and singing falsetto harmonies. In 1965 he had his biggest solo hit with ‘Universal Soldier’ reaching No. 44 on the Hot 100 Chart, it was the same he joined Ricky Nelson on tour.
He hosted his own weekly show ‘The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour’ from January 1969 to June 1972. Inviting many major artists including:- The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Willi Nelson, Merle Haggard, Neil Diamond, Roger Miller, Mel Tellis, and Waylon Jennings. He helped launch the careers of Anne Murray and Jerry Reed who were regulars on the show.
He appeared in movies including:- True Grit with John Wayne (1969), and Norwood (1970) and Strange Homecoming (1974). The 1970’s saw more hits for Campbell including ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’, ‘Southern Nights’, ‘Sunflower’ and ‘Country Boy’.
Rhinestone Cowboy was his largest selling single and became his best known recording, initially selling more than 2 million copies. The song continues to be a hit – being used on various TV shows and films – Desperate Housewives, Daddy Day Care and High School High. It became the inspiration for the 1984 Dolly Parton / Sylvester Stallone movie ‘Rhinestone Cowboy.
In 2005, Campbell was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2010 and after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Campbell embarked on his final ‘Goodbye Tour’ and having three of his children joining him on stage as his backing band.
His final performance was on November 30th 2012 in California. After the tour he entered the studio again which would be his final recording. The album was ‘Adios’, however it was not released until June 2017.
Glen Campbell, who was married 4 times, and fathered 5 sons and 3 daughters, – died in Nashville Tennessee on August 8th 2017
He was born on October 26th 1941.
Charlie was the youngest of eleven children. It’s believed that during the War Years the view from their front window were a mixture of docks, dumps, railway lines. Having stated that they were surrounded by a loving family and music.
He started learning to play guitar at 14, with the help from his brother after learning the first few chords he’d sit up all night playing Hank Williams, Elvis, Jimmie Rogers etc. His education began to suffer, even more so when he discovered the banjo.
He would soon join the Army without informing his family, with his guitar and a D.A. Hairstyle he set off to Wales to do his training, then it was off to West Germany. He returned home after his stint in the Army, and jobless, so he returned to Germany.
In the 1960’s he joined a group ‘The Chicago Sect’ in Germany, and returning home to England, he married and worked in several bands before becoming a teacher at Portland Combined School. It was at this time, he started writing songs and continued to perform on a semi-professional basis.
His big break, would have came about in 1968 – when Roy Orbison heard a demo tape and invited him down to where he was playing to have him signed to his own label. Unfortunately, when he travelled down to London where Orbison was to perform, he was told, that Roy had dropped everything to fly back to the US when learnt by telegram that his family had been lost in a house fire.
It wasn’t until 1994 his song ‘What Colour Is The Wind’ which tells the story of a young blind child’s attempt to envision the world – had reached #1 in the Irish Music Charts.
His first album was success in Ireland, Landsborough appeared on several TV programs in UK. Since then, he has released 10 additional albums including originals and greatest hits. His album have exceeded 700,000 units. He has had two number 1 singles on the Irish Pop Charts and several albums topping the British Country Charts.
His most successful release was ‘Still Can’t Say Goodbye’ which was recorded in Nashville in 1999. He has performed in most major concert halls and theatres in the UK and he has also toured Australia and New Zealand in 2001.
Mason, is a fine young entertainer from Queensland's Sunshine Coast, a talent to be reckoned with.
Besides being a versatile entertainer, and multi-instrumentalist, it has been stated that he's an National Ambassador for Headspace (Australian Youth Mental Health initiative, established by the Australian government in 2006) joining the committee at age 11. He is also a credited Level 8 drum teacher.
In 2015 he released a self titled EP - titles include: You Are Me Home, Cool, Liar's Game, Bad Things. This was followed up by his second EP 'Get Me to Memphis'. If his previous EPs/songs are any indication - his next EP or album will certainly be a must for Country/Blues fans. Check out his songs on YouTube.
In 2016 he made his mark on the music industry with talent quests, TV shows appearances, Festivals and appearing with some of the industry's great artists. At the Coca Cola 'Young Rising Star Quest' in Tamworth (2016) - Mason made the Top 4 out of 150 contestants. He went on to win the Gympie Music Talent Search and 'Voice of Urban' at the Urban CM Festival, Caboolture, QLD.
In May 2017, Mason was honoured to represent Australia at the Trans Tasman Entertainer of the Year Awards (Norfolk Island) - and also had taken out the Trans Tasman Entertainer of the Year. No bad for a 17 years old. He will be back in Tamworth in January (2018) for the Country Music Festival.
For bookings:- firstname.lastname@example.org
Bec was born and grew up in Lang Lang Victoria on the family beef farm. Her early introduction to music was her
father playing the vinyls showing her his favourite songs. He mother was a huge fan of Loretta Lyn and cassette
would be playing in the family car – these would be Bec’s earliest taste in music.
It was for several years Bec pestered her mother in letting her learn to play the piano, which eventually she gave
in. At the age of 10, her song learnt on the piano from an elderly lady down the street, was Three Blind Mice.
Between 2005 and 2008, Bec performed in various talent quests in New South Wales, Queensland and her own
state of Victoria. It wasn’t look before she started being successful either taking out first place, or as runner-up. She
would also backed other singers as well. Her influences in music consists of Connie Frances, Shirley Thoms, Loretta
Lyn, Johnny Horton, Johnny O’Keefe and John Williamson.
One highlight that changed her chosen career forever, was the highest accolade winning Queensland’s Champion or
Champions and gaining the CMAA College Scholarship in 2009. As a grand finalist she performed on the famous
Toyota Star Maker contest in Tamworth 2009.
Bec released her first single ‘I’ll Cry’ in 2009, the song appeared on her album ‘The Tranquillity’.
Her fourth and latest album is ‘Proud of My Country’.
Ever since her induction into the CMAA College, Bec has been nominated for many awards, including five
nominations for the Southern Stars Awards in Mildura, and two times Golden Guitar nominee in 2013 and 2014.
Bec classes herself as an Australian artist retaining the traditional sound country music Australia and the US
bringing them together with modern twist. She is a talented singer/songwriter, one of few women making their mark
in the traditional country genre.
TANYA LEE JOHNSTON
Country Rock Singer, Songwriter, Musician
Performs Solo / Duo / Band!!! Stage name "Tanya Lee"
Tanya Lee grew up in a musical family.
She has Performed at many venues East & West Coast of Australia.
Nashville USA.recently returned to Nashville by invitation in July 2018 Singing Song writing and performing live on radio in Lynchburg.
Tania has just finished co- writing with Jean Stafford & Kirsty Akers/Anderson 2 songs:
"Picking my heart up off the floor"
Released on 21st February 2021
Albums available for sale
"Home with Country",
"That Say's it all"
"Songs of Country"
Produced by Simon Johnson from SJ Music/Hillbilly Hut Central Coast.
Any further information required: 0438475998