‘Shining star’: Tribute to Judith Durham after her death at age 79

Tributes are pouring in for beloved Australian entertainer Judith Durham who died “peacefully” at age 79 after a long battle for health.

The former lead singer of The Seekers, who gained international fame for her immense talent, died Friday evening in Melbourne in palliative care.

She was admitted to Alfred Hospital and died due to complications from a long-term chronic lung disease.

Singer-songwriter Judith Durham has passed away.
Camera iconSinger-songwriter Judith Durham has passed away. Credit: Delivered

The singer, songwriter and musician formed The Seekers with Athol Guy, Bruce Woodley and Keith Potger in 1962.

With hits such as Georgy Girl and The Carnival Is Over, they became the first Australian pop group to hit major charts in the UK and US, paving the way for other stars such as Olivia Newton-John.

The Seekers hold the record for the largest concert audience in the Southern Hemisphere, with approximately 200,000 people attending a show in March 1967.

They were named joint Australians of the Year in 1967.

Durham eventually left the group and had a successful solo career, although she continued to reunite with The Seekers over the years.

Members of the Seekers were each honored as Officers of the Order of Australia in 2014.

Durham’s band members took to social media to pay tribute to her “wonderful musical legacy”.

“Our lives have been forever changed by the loss of our dear lifelong friend and shining star,” they said.

“Her struggle was intense and heroic – she never complained about her fate and fully accepted its outcome.

Her sister Beverley Sheehan also spoke about the closeness they shared.

“Judith’s zest for life, her constant optimism, creativity and generosity were always an inspiration to me,” she said.

Durham’s family has requested privacy at this time.

Federal Arts Minister Tony Burke said Durham was “the most famous Australian voice ever”.

“With The Seekers and solo, Judith earned her place as an icon of our music,” he said.

“In 1967, 10 percent of the Melbourne population attended a single performance.

“What a contribution. What a loss. I’m Australian will be played forever. REST IN PEACE.”

Entertainer Anthony Callea wrote, “The sky above just got a voice from an angel.”

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