MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Judith Durham, an Australian folk music icon best known worldwide as the lead singer of The Seekers, has died. She is 79 years old.
In a statement on Saturday, Universal Music Australia and Musicoast said Durham died at Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital on Friday night from complications from a long-term lung disease.
She made her first record at the age of 19 and rose to fame when she joined The Seekers in 1963. The quartet became the first Australian band to achieve significant chart and sales success in the UK and US, eventually selling 50 million records.
International hits include “Carnival Over”, “I’ll Never Find Another You”, “Our Own World” and “George Girl”.
Durham began his solo career in 1968, but recorded again with The Seekers in the 1990s.
“This is a sad day for Judith’s family, her fellow Seekers, the Musicoast staff, the music industry and fans around the world, and all of us who have long been a part of Judith’s life,” Graham Simpson, a member of The Seekers’ management team.
Her bandmates in The Seekers – Keith Potger, Bruce Woodley and Athol Guy – say their lives have been forever changed by the loss of “our precious lifelong friend and shining star”.
“Her struggles were fierce and heroic, never complaining about her fate, and fully accepting how it ended. Keith, Bruce and I are lucky to share her great musical legacy,” they said.
Tributes poured in to the beloved singer, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese describing Durham as a “national treasure and an Australian icon”.
“Judith Durham has given a voice to our new identity and helped pave the way for a new generation of Australian artists,” Albanese wrote on Twitter. “Her kindness will be missed by many, and her national anthem for our country will never be forgotten.”
In her home state of Victoria, Premier Dan Andrews said Durham had conquered the music scene in Australia and overseas.
“With her unique voice and stage presence leading The Seekers, the group has become one of Australia’s biggest chart-toppers,” he said.