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The Seekers were a group of Australian folk-influenced popular musicians that was formed in Melbourne in 1962. They were the first Australian popular music group to achieve major chart and sales success in the United Kingdom and the United States. They were a highly popular band during the 1960s.
Their best-known configuration was:
Judith Durham: vocals, piano, tambourine
Athol Guy: double bass, vocals
Keith Potger: twelve-string guitar, banjo, vocals
Bruce Woodley: guitar, mandolin, banjo, vocals
They had nine hits in Britain and Australia in the 1960s: "I'll Never Find Another You", "A World of Our Own", "The Carnival Is Over" (which The Seekers have sung at various closing ceremonies in Australia, including Expo '88 and the Paralympics and still stands as the 30th Best Selling Song in the United Kingdom), "Someday One Day", "Walk With Me", "Morningtown Ride", "Georgy Girl" (the title song of the film of the same name), "When Will the Good Apples Fall" and "Emerald City".
Bruce Woodley's and Dobe Newton's song "I Am Australian", which has been recorded by The Seekers, and by singer Judith Durham with Russell Hitchcock and Mandawuy Yunupingu, has become an unofficial Australian anthem. To date The Seekers have sold over 50 million records.
The Seekers were formed by Athol Guy, double bass, and guitarists Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley, who all attended Melbourne High School. Their lead singer was Ken Ray, who later left the group to get married. Established traditional jazz singer, Judith Durham took his place, having recorded an EP with the Melbourne group Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers (she was replaced by Margret RoadKnight). The Seekers soon gathered a strong following in Melbourne, and Durham's connections with W&G Records led to the group being offered a contract.
After the release of their debut album in Australia, Introducing The Seekers, in 1963, The Seekers were offered the chance to travel to the UK on the Sitmar cruise liner Fairsky in 1964, in exchange for providing on-board entertainment. They had intended to return to Australia ten weeks later on the same ship, but on arrival in the UK the Grade Organization offered them work.
The group decided to remain in the UK and after filling in on a bill headlined by Dusty Springfield, they met her brother, songwriter-producer Tom Springfield, who had experience with folk-pop material with his earlier group The Springfields. He penned a song for them called "I'll Never Find Another You", which they recorded in November 1964. It was released by EMI Records (on the Columbia label) in December 1964 and was championed by the offshore radio station Radio Caroline. Despite the fact that the group had not signed a contract with EMI, the single reached the UK Top 40 and began selling well. In February 1965, it reached #1 in the UK and Australia, and #4 in the U.S. where it was released on EMI's Capitol label.
The distinctive soprano voice of lead singer Judith Durham, the group's harmonies, and memorable songs encouraged the BBC to give them exposure, allowing them to appeal to a broad cross-section of the pop audience.
"I'll Never Find Another You" sold 1.76 million copies worldwide, and made The Seekers the first Australian pop group to have a Top 5 hit in all three countries (Australia, UK, and United States) simultaneously. They were also the first Australian recording artists to sell more than a million copies of a single. The Seekers followed "I'll Never Find Another You" with two more Tom Springfield compositions, "A World of Our Own" (which reached No.3 in May 1965 in the UK) and "The Carnival Is Over", which reached No.1 in November. At its peak, "The Carnival Is Over" was selling 90,000 copies a day in the UK alone.
In 1966, they recorded Paul Simon’s "Someday One Day", which reached No.4 in Australia and No.11 in the UK. During this time, Art Garfunkel had returned to school and Paul Simon was pursuing a solo career in the UK following the failure of the duo's first released LP, Wednesday Morning, 3 am. The Seekers' version of "Someday One Day" was Simon's first UK success as a writer, and his first major hit as a composer outside of his work with Art Garfunkel. Bruce Woodley co-wrote several songs with Simon at this time, including "Red Rubber Ball" which became a US No.1 single (on the Cashbox chart) for The Cyrkle and was subsequently covered by The Seekers for their 1966 LP 'Come the Day' (released as 'Georgy Girl' in the US).
After returning to Australia in early 1966, The Seekers filmed their first television special, At Home With The Seekers. The band performed at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl before a crowd of 150,000. The Seekers were named Best New Artists at the 1966 New Musical Express Poll Winners Awards and they appeared at the celebratory Wembley Arena concert, on a bill that included The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield and The Animals.
The same year, the group appeared at a Royal Command Performance at the London Palladium, before Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
Malvina Reynolds' "Morningtown Ride" was the Seekers' sixth major hit, reaching No.2 on the British Charts in December 1966. The single had been recorded earlier on the 1964 album Hide and Seekers and the 1965 American debut, The New Seekers but, for copyright reasons, the song was re-recorded for The Seekers' Christmas 1966 single.
Their biggest US hit is "Georgy Girl" (No.1 in Feb '67; No.3 in the UK), for which The Seekers were awarded a gold record for one million copies sold in the United States. Jim Dale and Tom Springfield were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1967, but lost out to the title song from "Born Free". The recording sold 3.5 million copies.
In March 1967, The Seekers returned to Australia for a homecoming tour, which included a record-breaking concert at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne, attended by more than 200,000 people. The Seekers were accompanied by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Hector Crawford. This concert was listed in the 1993 Guinness Book Of World Records as the largest concert crowd ever gathered in the southern hemisphere. Vision of the appearance was incorporated into their 1967 Australian television spectacular The Seekers at Home and Down Under, which was screened on the Seven Network and drew a record rating of 6,070,000 and it, still remains in the Top 10 Most Watched television specials in Australian history.
In January 1968, in recognition of their many achievements, the group was named Australians of the Year for 1967 and accepted their award during their Australian tour. During their 1968 visit, the group also filmed another television spectacular, The World of The Seekers, which was screened in cinemas, before being screened nationally on the Nine Network to high ratings.
In late 1968, Judith Durham announced that she was leaving The Seekers to pursue a solo career and the group disbanded. Their final performance in July 1968 was screened live by the BBC as a special called Farewell The Seekers, with an audience of more than 10 million viewers. The special had been preceded by a week-long season at London's Talk Of The Town nightclub, and a live recording of one of their shows was released as the LP record, The Seekers Say Goodbye Live From The Talk Of The Town. It reached #2 on the UK charts. Also in July 1968, the compilation album The Seekers' Greatest Hits was released and spent 17 weeks at #1 in Australia. It was titled "The Best of the Seekers" in the UK and spent one week at #1 in February 1969, managing to knock The Beatles (White Album) off the top of the charts and preventing The Rolling Stones' Beggars Banquet from reaching the top spot. The album spent 125 weeks in the charts in the UK.
Following the split, the solo careers of the artists struggled. Durham released a Christmas album For Christmas With Love (recorded in Hollywood, California) and later signed with A&M Records, releasing two albums, A Gift of Song and Climb Ev'ry Mountain. Athol Guy hosted his own television show in Australia titled "A Guy Called Athol." Keith Potger formed the successful group The New Seekers in the UK.
Bruce Woodley would release several solo albums and focus on songwriting, including in the unofficial national anthem "I Am Australian". Eventually Potger re-joined Woodley and Guy in reforming The Seekers in 1975 with Louisa Wisseling,
then Julie Anthony in the 1980s, and then Karen Knowles, but the unique timbre of Durham's voice was missing from their sound. Durham later rejoined the group in 1992. Woodley himself left for a time in the 1970s and was replaced with Buddy England, before rejoining in the 1980s.
The Seekers re-united late in 1992, with the classic line-up of Durham, Guy, Potger and Woodley. A 25-Year Silver Jubilee Reunion Celebration tour in 1993 was sufficiently successful that The Seekers remained together for a further 11 years. They staged several sell-out tours of Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, releasing a number of albums, including new studio albums Future Road and Morningtown Ride to Christmas.
In 1995, they were inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall Of Fame, and were the subjects of a special issue of Australian postage stamps.
After much speculation including a parody of the coming event by ABC TV's Olympics satire The Games, The Seekers reunited again for the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games on 29 October 2000, with a performance of "The Carnival Is Over". Durham had suffered a broken hip and performed at the Paralympics in a wheelchair. On 1 September 2006, The Seekers were presented with the Key to the City by Melbourne's Lord Mayor, John So.
In February 2009, SBS TV program RocKwiz hosted a 50th anniversary concert at the Myer Music Bowl, RocKwiz Salutes the Bowl, which included "World of Our Own" performed by Rebecca Barnard and Billy Miller and "The Carnival is Over" by Durham.]
In October 2010, they were scheduled to tour various Australian cities in support of violinist André Rieu and his orchestra. However,the tour was postponed when Rieu was taken ill. In May 2011 they supported Rieu on the rescheduled Australian tour "The Seekers' Golden Jubilee Tour" kicked off 2013 in May, celebrating fifty years since the group had formed in December 1962. Performing in Sydney, Brisbane, Newcastle and Melbourne, they received rave reviews to sold-out audiences. However, Judith Durham suffered a brain hemorrhage after their first concert in Melbourne. The rest of the Australian tour and later-to-be-staged UK tour were postponed; the former continued in November, while the UK tour took place in May and June 2014, ending with two performances at the Royal Albert Hall, London.