Joy McKean: ‘trailblazing’ Australian songwriter and wife of Slim Dusty dies aged 93

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Australian singer-songwriter Joy McKean, who wrote immoderate of her hubby Slim Dusty’s astir fashionable songs, has died astatine 93 from cancer.

EMI said McKean had passed distant peacefully connected Thursday night, surrounded by family. “She volition beryllium remembered arsenic a pioneer successful Australian music,” the connection read.

As good arsenic being joined to Dusty, McKean was besides his manager and ran the concern of his lucrative career: a five-decade concern that was liable for much than 100 albums and which won 45 Golden Guitars.

McKean won the archetypal ever Golden Guitar grant successful 1973 for Lights connected the Hill – a opus which McKean wrote and Dusty sang. Among different songs she wrote for him were Walk A Country Mile, The Biggest Disappointment and Indian Pacific.

McKean was calved successful Singleton successful the Hunter portion of NSW. Encouraged by her parents, she and her sister, Heather, some learned to play assorted instruments and sing from a young age. They became known for their yodelling, and had a half-hour unrecorded vigor amusement connected 2KW arsenic the McKean Sisters; eventually, they would grounds their ain hits including Yodel Down the Valley, successful the aboriginal 1950s.

McKean met Slim Dusty successful 1951, six years earlier helium became the archetypal Australian to person an planetary No 1 with A Pub With No Beer. The bush balladeer would spell connected to merchantability much than 7m records crossed his career; helium was awarded the Order of the British Empire successful 1970, inducted into the Aria Hall of Fame successful 1988, and fixed the Order of Australia successful 1998.

But McKean was integral to his success, successful a concern that was documented successful Kriv Stenders 2020 film, Slim and I.

McKean’s memoir, Riding This Road, was published successful 2014; she besides co-wrote 2 of her husband’s autobiographies: Slim, Another Day Another Town (1996) and I’ve Been There and Back Again (2011). She was fixed the Order of Australia successful 1991 for work to the amusement industry.

“They accidental down each large antheral is simply a large woman, but I accidental successful Slim’s case, she was close beside him,” Keith Urban has said of McKean.

McKean was besides laminitis of the Tamworth Country euphony festival and the Country Music Association of Australia; she was recognised for a beingness of accomplishment astatine the Australian Women successful Music Awards successful 2019.

Paul Kelly has described her arsenic “one of our top songwriters”, with Lee Kernaghan calling her “a trailblazer” and “an inspiration”.

McKean is survived by her children, Anne and David Kirkpatrick.

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