Judith Durham, the Australian folk hero who recorded worldwide hits with the Sixties band the Seekers, has died at the age of 79.
Universal Music Australia confirmed to the Associated Press that Durham died Friday at a Melbourne hospital following a battle with the lung disease bronchiectasis.
“Our lives are changed forever losing our treasured lifelong friend and shining star,” the surviving members of the Seekers — Keith Potger, Bruce Woodley and Athol Guy — said in a statement. “Her struggle was intense and heroic, never complaining of her destiny and fully accepting its conclusion.”
Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese tweeted Saturday, “A national treasure and an Australian icon, Judith Durham gave voice to a new strand of our identity and helped blaze a trail for a new generation of Aussie artists. Her kindness will be missed by many, the anthems she gave to our nation will never be forgotten.”
The folk-oriented pop quartet the Seekers scored a pair of top 10 hits in the U.S. in the mid-Sixties, first with “I’ll Never Find Another You” and then with the 1966 single “Georgy Girl,” which peaked at Number Two on the Hot 100 and was nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards. Other singles included “The Carnival is Over,” the Paul Simon-penned “Someday, One Day,” and “A World of Our Own.”
The Seekers were also the first Australian band to make an impact musically in the U.S., predating artists like the Bee Gees and Helen Reddy. However, the group disbanded in 1968, at which point Durham embarked on a lengthy, award-winning and platinum-selling solo career in her native Australia.
The Seekers were inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame in 1995. The band, Durham included, were honored as Officers of the Order of Australia in 2014.