John Williamson

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About John Williamson

Recording for more than a half century, John Williamson is Australia’s consummate storyteller. Born in 1945 in Kerang, Victoria, he learned guitar, ukulele, and other instruments as a child growing up in the rural Mallee region. Williamson’s natural talent for distinctly Aussie one-liners has been apparent since he won the TV talent show New Faces in 1970 with “Old Man Emu,” a novelty twist on the bush ballad format. After that playful song earned him a Top 5 debut, it took Williamson years to succeed with more straight-faced material, such as 1981’s “The Breaker” (inspired by the Australian war movie Breaker Morant). As he settled into a country career defined by sincere, accessible songwriting, he found his signature tune in 1982’s slang-strewn ballad “True Blue,” which lamented the thought of authentic Aussie qualities becoming a thing of the past. Though still flirting with bush ballads and comic turns, Williamson saluted the wide-open landscape of his youth with 1986’s Mallee Boy and has increasingly looked beyond outback wildlife and scenery to illuminate the richness of Indigenous cultures. Always documenting the country he loves, he even sang about Australia’s transfiguration under COVID-19 with 2020’s characteristically unifying “The Great Divide.”

Quambatook, Victoria, Australia
November 1, 1945

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