Born David Gordon Kirkpatrick on June 13, 1927, in Kempsey, Australia, to dairy farming parents; married Joy McKean (a country singer-songwriter) , 1951; children: Anne, David. Addresses: Record company--EMI Australia, P.O. Box 311, Cremorne, NSW, 2090 Australia. Website--Slim Dusty Official Website:

Although few people outside Australia are aware of his decades-long popularity in his home country, Australian singer Slim Dusty is one of the most prolific and best-selling recording artists in his native land. His music celebrates the lives and spirit of Australian rural people. He has written more than 1,000 songs, has recorded more than 100 albums, and has sold more than five million copies of those albums during the six decades of his career. Several of his songs, most notably "A Pub with No Beer," have become unofficial Australian anthems of national identity.

In his website biography, Dusty described his music as "songs about real Australians. I have to be fair dinkum [honest] with my audience. I can't see any other way of doing it. You have to believe in what you are singing about." The website also notes that Dusty works hard to make his fans feel that "Slim is one of their mates and his songs [as Slim has said, are] 'just a good yarn you might hear from a mate at the pub, around a camp fire in the bush or at a backyard barbie [barbecue].'"

Born David Gordon Kirkpatrick on June 13, 1927, in Kempsey, New South Wales, Dusty grew up on a remote dairy farm in the hill country near Nulla Nulla Creek. As a boy, he dreamed of becoming a country music singer, and when he was ten years old, he wrote his first song, "The Way the Cowboy Dies." In 1938 he began calling himself Slim Dusty. In 1942 Dusty made his first recording, at his own expense, and by 1946 he had signed his first contract with Columbia Gramophone on the Regal Zonophone label. He recorded six titles, including When the Rain Tumbles Down in July. He has remained with Columbia, which later became EMI, ever since. Dusty married Joy McKean, a country singer and songwriter, in 1951, and the couple had their first child, Anne, in 1952; in 1958 they had a son, David.

In 1954 Dusty began his full-time musical career, touring with his first traveling show, the "Slim Dusty Show." In 1956 he established a partnership with showman Frankie Foster and began touring as a large tent show. Dusty's classic "A Pub with No Beer" was recorded in 1957 and quickly became the best-selling record ever by an Australian; the following year, Dusty received Australia's first gold record award for the song.

In 1960 Dusty released his first full-length album, Slim Dusty Sings. Dusty ended his partnership with Foster in 1963, and in 1964 he set out on his first annual "Slim Dusty Tour," covering 30,000 miles around Australia in ten months.

In 1969 Dusty was awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) in entertainment for his services to music. Dusty's autobiography, Walk a Country Mile, was published in 1979 and became a bestseller in Australia; an album by the same name went platinum. Throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, Dusty received award after award. His fiftieth album, The Golden Anniversary Album (1981), reached multiplatinum status in Australia. A feature film about his life, The Slim Dusty Movie, was released in 1984.

Dusty became the first singer in the world to have his voice beamed to Earth from space when, in 1983, astronauts Bob Crippen and John Young passed over Australia while in orbit in the space shuttle Columbia. The two men played a recording of Slim singing the Australian folk song "Waltzing Matilda" to acknowledge the help Australia provided with their mission.

In 1992 Dusty was one of the founders of the Country Music Association of Australia, and he has been chair of the organization ever since; in 2001 he was made honorary president for life. In 1993 Dusty celebrated his fiftieth anniversary of continuous recording in Australia, a milestone that he marked by touring with the Aboriginal band Yothu Yindi.

Dusty's long streak of consistent performances was broken in January of 1999, when he underwent emergency cardiac surgery. By March, however, he was working on two albums and filming for a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) special. That year, he was named Father of the Year by the New South Wales Council, and he was the first annual Senior Australian of the Year named by the Commonwealth Government. He received the award from Australia's prime minister in a ceremony in Adelaide.

Dusty was further honored in 2000 when a postage stamp bearing his image was issued, and he received the Australian Bush Laureate Awards Golden Gumleaf Heritage Award for his contributions to Australian folk music. He released his 100th album, Looking Forward, Looking Back, and was the closing act of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Dusty led the 100,000-strong audience in singing "Waltzing Matilda," an event his website described as "a fitting end to the Games, a fitting tribute to Australia, a fitting statement for Australian country music!"

In 2001 Dusty had surgery to remove a kidney, but he recovered quickly. By 2002 he had produced 103 albums and was hard at work on his 104th and 105th. The Australia Post created another stamp to honor Dusty, part of their "Australian Legends" series. Dusty was also back on the road, beginning an Australian concert tour despite earlier predictions that he would retire after the kidney surgery. In an interview with Bob Hart in Melbourne's Herald Sun, Dusty said that he had no plans to retire, adding, "Old country singers are like sailors: just keep sailing on until they go over the edge."

Despite his age and experience, Dusty still works long hours each day. He told Paul Stewart in the Sunday Herald Sun, "You have to rehearse, there is no getting around that, and if you think there is you're pulling your own leg." Never content to live off his past accomplishments, Dusty proclaimed to Stewart: "I am not a great one for looking back and am always wondering what is up next."

by Kelly Winters

Slim Dusty's Career

Began playing guitar and singing as a child; wrote first song at the age of ten; took the name Slim Dusty, age eleven; made first recording at his own expense, 1942; signed with Columbia Gramophone (later EMI), 1946; recorded well over 100 albums with EMI, 1946-.

Slim Dusty's Awards

Australian Recording Industry Association Award (ARIA) Hall of Fame; ARIA Special Achievement Award, 1996; ARIA Best Country Album Award, 2001; Country Music Association of Australia Golden Guitar Awards for Album of the Year, 1973-74, 1976-77, 1980-81, 1984-85, 1988, 1991; Best EP or Single, 1973; Male Vocalist of the Year, 1975, 1977, 1979; Top Selling Album, 1975-76, 1978-79, 1980, 1984, 1989, 1998; Heritage Award, 1982-83, 1984, 1987, 1989, 1997; Vocal Group or Duo of the Year, 1994; Bush Ballad of the Year, 1997-98, 2002; and Video Clip of the Year, 2001; MBE (Member of the British Empire) for services in entertainment, 1969; Country Music Roll of Renown, 1979; New South Wales Council Father of the Year, 1999; Commonwealth Government Senior Australian of the Year, 1999; Australian Bush Laureate Golden Gumleaf Heritage Award, 2000; Order of Australia; Australian National Living Treasure; Platinum Award for 100th album Looking Forward Looking Back, 2000.

Famous Works

Recent Updates

September 19, 2003: Dusty died on September 19, 2003, at his home in Sydney, Australia. He was 76. Source: E! Online,, September 19, 2003; New York Times, September 20, 2003, p. A11(L).

Further Reading



Visitor Comments Add a comment…

almost 15 years ago

im am 13 years old and i have been listen to slim all my life my dad and my older sisters got me into him my dad is a roo shooter and we used to listen to slim all night while we were at work i like his older songs more than his new ones i seen him play once in broken hill and my sisters got to eat breakfast with him i am from white cliffs in far west of new south wales 70kms from wilcannia and he loved it out this way miss ya old mate see you in over 60 years mate

almost 15 years ago

I'm 53 years old and Slim's my idol with his songs and the stories they tell. I know quite a lot about Australia with the songs about the people and the land. I am a New Zealander and I don't know much about my country as there's not a thing to write about but I have tried to write a song about the people and the land but it doesn't work for me like it does with Aussie songs as I can write them.

about 15 years ago

im 15 years old and slim's my idol....i was so sad when i heard he had passed in peace slim xoxo

over 15 years ago

i am a 14 year old girl and i was born in kempsey in 1994 and i remember when i was a young girl my father and mother (phillip and karen.B)took me to his farm i dont remember much but i meet him and we also usto get lemons just out side of his house it was really fun i would like to give a big thank you to all of my famlie for providing me with all his visits and R.I.P SLIM DUSTY Amelia.B

over 15 years ago

It was back in 1964 in Singapore while on JET 64 exercise on board HMCS FRASER that I went ashore and bought Slims album Another Aussie Singsong. Ihad already one album I got here in Canada,Songs of Australia Ialso got a 45rpm A Pub With No Beer plus an extended play 45 with Answer to the Silvery Moonlight Trail plus 3 others.the album # is Sego 70036 by Columbia Grapophone Sydney New South Wales. The Man was a Treasure and it is sad to know he is gone but his music will live forever. God Bless Him And He will carry on in Gloryland. Australia lost a great great man. LSET3 ROD FINLEY RCN 1957-1967.