Judith Durham, lead singer of The Seekers, dies aged 79

“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,” Guy said.

The Seekers performing at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl as part of Music for The People concerts, 1967.Credit:Staff photographer

Durham became lead singer of The Seekers in the early 1960s, with their 1964 song I’ll Never Find Another You reaching number one in Australia and the UK.

Their 1965 hit the The Carnival is Over at its sales peak sold more than 90,000 copies a day. The bands’ members were named Australians of the Year in 1967.

The Seekers’ 1967 performance at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl – estimated at 200,000 people – was in the Guinness Book of Records the following year as the biggest concert attendance ever in the southern hemisphere.

Durham left the band in 1968 to pursue a solo career, releasing albums For Christmas with Love, Gift of Song and Climb Ev’ry Mountain.

George Ash, president of Universal Music Australia, described Durham as a “force of nature”.

“Great artists become part of our fabric and our extended family, and Judith Durham was no exception,” Ash said.

“She was a force of nature, constantly energised with a passion for music and life. We were all privileged to have known Judith and heard her heavenly voice. We are deeply saddened by her passing and will miss her dearly.”

The statement thanked the doctors and nurses at The Alfred hospital for “outstanding care and compassion” and said Durham’s family had asked for privacy at this time.

Tributes began flowing for Durham on Saturday evening with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese remembering the singer as a “national treasure and an Australian icon”.

“Her kindness will be missed by many, the anthems she gave to our nation will never be forgotten,” he said.

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Federal opposition leader Peter Dutton said Durham had given voice to more than one generation of Australians.

“Durham demonstrated in song after song, concert after concert, how the human voice can reach, and move, every one of us,” Dutton said.

Premier Daniel Andrews paid tribute to Durham, named Victorian of the Year in 2015 for her services to music and charity work, for her influence on the music scene in Australia and overseas.

“Her memory will not only live on in her numerous hit songs, but in the hearts of generations of Victorians and Australians,” Andrews said.

Cyrus Meher-Homji, senior vice president of classics and jazz at Universal, said Durham and The Seekers entranced him as a five-year-old child.

“High above, the dawn awaits you, Judith. Your artistry will forever be enshrined in our souls.”

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