Mention the name The Seekers anywhere in the world today and it will conjure up an instant image of the four young Australians who came together to sing folk and gospel songs in a Melbourne coffee-shop and who, within four short years, took the international music world by storm.
We picture three clean-cut, musically skilled young men, and the tiny, pretty girl with the powerhouse voice. And along with that image, a soundtrack of their global chart-topping hits plays… “I’ll Never Find Another You,” “A World of Our Own,” “The Carnival Is Over,” “Morningtown Ride,” “Georgy Girl”…
But pre-dating those history-making years, the genesis of The Seekers stretches back to the 1950s, a decade of sweeping change in the world of popular music. Through a circuitous route, this new era of music would bring together three former Melbourne High School students.
Athol Guy got his start when he formed a bebop group called The Ramblers, whose repertoire was predominately American Civil War tunes, spirituals, and popular hits of the day.
Ceylon-born Keith Potger formed a rock ‘n’ roll band called The Trinamics, who covered the big hits of the day by the likes of Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers and Eddie Cochran.
And Bruce Woodley was combining occasional solo shows with singing and playing banjo in the jazz group Morris Plonk’s Moonshine Five.
The natural demise of those groups brought Athol and Keith together with Bob Turnbull and later, Ken Ray to form a doo-wop group called The Escorts, and later Athol, Keith and Ken added Bruce Woodley to their line-up, and the all-male band known as The Seekers was born.
This was January 1962, and in those early days their repertoire was primarily skiffle, folk, and blues, and they had no problem finding work. But before the year had ended, Ken Ray left to get married, and The Seekers were suddenly a trio.
They continued their residency at Melbourne’s Treble Clef café but came to the realisation that without Ken Ray, they were lacking that strong lead singer. This time, they decided to look for a girl.
Coincidence brought a young Melbourne jazz singer named Judy Durham into Athol’s life, when that December she started work as a secretary at J. Walter Thompson, where Athol was an account executive by day. That night - December 4, 1962 – Judy sat-in with the three boys at the Treble Clef, and The Seekers as the entire world would come to know and love them, was born.
When The Seekers announced that they were getting back together for the first time in 25 years to celebrate their Silver Jubilee in 1992, their musical director of choice was Michael Cristiano, who had worked previously with Athol Keith and Bruce. A renowned producer, performer, songwriter, musician and composer, Michael was an obvious choice; his wealth of experience has been sought after by many of Australia’s top stars, and countless international artists.
A seed was planted after a casual comment to ‘the boys’ by a record company executive, who opined the ‘missing link’ in The Seekers’ history was what happened prior to Judith joining them. Judith’s pre-Seekers solo success has been well documented, but the paths the three men pursued to that point have been largely overlooked.
Athol, Keith and Bruce joined Michael in 2017 at his Soundplant recording studio to revisit songs they’d sung in earlier years, and a few they wish they’d sung. Their collective love of harmony singing was evident from the start.
Word got out that this lowkey “back to our roots” project was underway, and Ambition Entertainment was quick to respond. Collectively the four men brought their song ‘wish lists’ to the table and the 13 tracks that make up this exciting album Back To Our Roots are the ones they all agreed best reflected their ‘pre-Seekers’ musicality that contributed to the sound we all know and love as “that Seekers sound”. They will contribute to the soundtrack of the complete ‘Seekers Story’ on stage…
“What a surprise from four of my favourite musical friends…. The blending of four special talents evokes not only lifetimes of memories but new twinges of country stylings and a wealth of contemporary flavours. It is “Seekers” of today, yesterday and tomorrow all rolled into one. I hope people love it.” - Judith Durham.
The album also features a special edition version of “I Am Australian” recently recorded for this album.
1. Worried Man Blues
2. Louisiana Man
3. Reason to Believe
4. End of The Line
5. Adios Amor
6. The Last Thing on My Mind
7. All the Roadrunning
8. Sitting in Limbo
9. Wild Mountain Thyme
10. Midnight Special
11. Goodnight, Irene
12. I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
13. The Parting Glasss
Special Edition Track
14. I Am Australian