Judith Durham dead: ‘The Seekers’ singer and legendary Australian music icon, dies aged 79, as primary cause of death is revealed

Australian music legend Judith Durham has died at the age of 79.

Durham AOM rose to fame as the lead singer of The Seekers, best known for I’ll Never Find Another You, I Am Australian and The Carnival Is Over.

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Seven’s entertainment editor Peter Ford first tweeted the news of her passing, describing her as “one of this country’s great singers”.

“As part of The Seekers and as a solo performer she was superb,” he said.

“Also a truly kind and generous person.”

The Seekers perform in Canberra during their Golden Jubilee tour in 2013. Credit: ALAN PORRITT/AAPIMAGE

She died in hospital on Friday night following a battle with chronic illness.

“After a brief stay in the Alfred Hospital, Judith was admitted to Palliative Care on Friday 5 August, where she passed away peacefully that evening,” her management said in a statement on Saturday.

“Her death was a result of complications from a long-standing chronic lung disease.”

Career with The Seekers

Durham joined The Seekers in the 1960s alongside Athol Guy, Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley in Melbourne.

In 1967, the band members were named as joint recipients of the Australian of the Year award, the only group to be honoured to date.

The band disbanded a year later when Durham left to pursue a solo career but reunited for shows over the coming decades.

In 1995, The Seekers were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame and, almost two decades later, the members were individually honoured as Officers of the Order of Australia.

Durham married her musical director Ron Edgeworth in 1969 before briefly moving to Europe.

Seekers lead singer Judith Durham has died aged 79. Credit: JULIAN SMITH/AAPIMAGE
Judith Durham in Melbourne in 2011. Credit: Martin Philbey/AP

In 1990, the couple and their tour manager Peter Summers were involved in a car accident in Victoria, resulting in the death of the driver of the other car, as well as Durham suffering a broken wrist and leg.

The response from fans prompted a reunion of The Seekers for a Silver Jubilee show. During this reunion, Edgeworth would be diagnosed with motor neuron disease, dying in 1994.

In May 2013, the band reunited again for a Golden Jubilee tour. However, Durham would suffer a stroke that impacted her ability to read and write – including reading music sheets.

Her singing was not impacted by the stroke.

In 2015, she was named Victorian of the Year for her services to music and involvement with charities.

The Seekers pay tribute

Universal Music Group on Saturday shared a statement on behalf of Potger, Woodley, and Athol Guy.

“Our lives are changed forever losing our treasured lifelong friend and shining star,” it said.

“Her struggle was intense and heroic – never complaining of her destiny and fully accepting its conclusion.

“Her magnificent musical legacy Keith, Bruce and I are so blessed to share.”

Tributes for Judith Durham

Durham’s beloved sister, Beverley Sheehan, spoke of the closeness they shared throughout life, including their love of music.

“Judith’s joy for life, her constant optimism, creativity and generosity of spirit were always an inspiration to me,” she said in a statement on Saturday.

Judith Durham songs

Across her years with The Seekers and her sparkling solo career, Durham was known for hits including:

  • You Are My Star
  • Anchor of My Life
  • Days of My Life feat. The Seekers
  • Colours of My Life feat. The Seekers
  • Somewhere a Child Is Sleeping
  • Carnival Is Over
  • Someday, One Day feat. The Seekers
  • Emerald City feat. The Seekers
  • Just a Closer Walk with Thee
  • Mary’s Boy Child feat. The Idea of North
  • The Light Is Dark Enough
  • I Wish I Knew
  • Wailing on the Willow
  • Gift of Song
  • We’re Back Together Again
  • Walk On
  • Under the Southern Cross
  • Time Has Come to Part
  • So Much More
  • Seven Bridges Road
  • It Takes What It Takes
  • I Never Knew My Daddy
  • Follow Me
  • Come On Over to Our House
  • Bluer Than Blue

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