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The Seekers

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  • Formed: Australia
  • Years Active: 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s
  • Group Members: Karen Knowles


Biography All Music GuideWikipedia

Group Members: Karen Knowles

All Music Guide:

Although it's difficult for those who weren't there to believe, for a short time during late 1965 and early 1966 the popularity of this singing quartet from Australia was sufficient to rival the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. The Seekers were at the head of the British Invasion's acoustic folk-rock division, right there with Peter & Gordon and Chad & Jeremy but without the personal Beatles connection of the former, and more successful than either -- they scored a string of number one hits in England and Top Ten successes in the U.S. that lasted into 1967, two years later than most of the rest of the British exports to America. They played acoustic instruments (even the upright bass), and they were closer in image and inspiration to the likes of the Rooftop Singers ("Walk Right In"), the New Christy Minstrels ("Green Green," etc.), or Peter, Paul and Mary than to the Beatles or even the Searchers, yet they managed to hang onto young listeners, as well as older teenagers and their parents, with songs like "I'll Never Find Another You," "A World of Our Own," "Come the Day," and "Georgy Girl."

The Seekers were formed in Australia in 1963 by Athol Guy (vocals, bass; b. January 5, 1940, Victoria, Australia), Keith Potger (vocals, 12-string guitar; b. March 2, 1941, Colombo, Sri Lanka), and Bruce Woodley (vocals, guitar; b. July 25, 1942, Melbourne, Australia), who had all attended Melbourne Boys High School together. Potger had led a band in the late '50s called the Trinamics, doing covers of Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, et al., while Guy had led a band called the Ramblers. The breakup of both groups got the two of them together with Woodley and a singer named Ken Ray, and they formed a doo wop outfit called the Escorts. By 1963, the folk boom that had started sweeping America and England in 1959 had made its way to Australia, and the Escorts evolved into the Seekers.

By late that year, they'd met Judith Durham (b. July 3, 1943, Melbourne), who worked at the same advertising agency where Athol Guy had his day job. She'd been born with perfect pitch and had intended to sing opera until she was bitten by the jazz bug in the mid-'50s. Durham already had records out, backed by Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers on the W&G label, but was willing to try singing folk music on the nights she wasn't singing jazz. She was quickly worked into the group as a sort of "fifth Seeker." Ray was gone in fairly short order, as Durham took his place as lead singer, and her membership in the Seekers got them a recording contract with W&G Records.

Fate played a hand in early 1964 when the group was offered a chance to perform on board a ship for a year's worth of international cruises. This got them to London in May of 1964 for a ten-week stay -- they had already sent copies of their recordings ahead of them, and when they arrived, they discovered that one of the top talent agencies in London was not only prepared to represent them, but, on the strength of those recordings, had already booked them. A series of London gigs followed, along with a new recording deal with World Record Club, the mail-order division of EMI Records. The cruise performances were abandoned, and two albums in quick succession followed for World Record Club, along with a very choice gig performing on the televised Sunday Night at the London Palladium. Their new agent, Eddie Jarratt, brought them to the attention of Tom Springfield, brother of Dusty and an ex-member of the folksinging trio the Springfields. He saw in the Seekers a chance to extend the work he'd done with the Springfields, and, with Jarratt, formed a production company that signed the Seekers up. Springfield became their resident producer and songwriter.

The group was signed directly to EMI's prestigious Columbia Records imprint (no relation to the Columbia label in America), and their first single, "I'll Never Find Another You," written by Springfield, got to number one in England and number four in America. "A World of Our Own" got to number three in England and number 19 in America, and their third, "The Carnival Is Over," became their biggest-selling single in England, moving over 93,000 copies in a single day and reaching the top spot on the charts, although it never charted in America. During 1965, the group had made the acquaintance of a young American folksinger living in London named Paul Simon, who also collaborated with Bruce Woodley -- the one composer within the performing ranks of the Seekers -- on the writing of one song, "Red Rubber Ball." The Seekers' fourth single, a cover of Simon's "Someday One Day," only got to number 11 in early 1966, but it was Simon's first British success as a songwriter, and his first success as a composer separate from the work of Simon & Garfunkel.

The group's sound was based in folk music, but had the polish and some of the flash of folk-rock. They didn't even have an electric bass, but the soaring harmonies, coupled with Keith Potger's powerfully strummed acoustic 12-string and Woodley's emphatic six-string playing, gave them a sound not too far removed from that of the Searchers, and not out of place in a musical era dominated by the sounds of the Beatles' acoustic period ("In My Life," "Michelle," etc.), the Byrds, the Beau Brummels, et al. Their albums, which included covers of contemporary folk compositions as well as new arrangements of traditional songs, were somewhat more uneven and didn't sell as well. But as singles artists, the Seekers enjoyed enormous popularity, rivaling that of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

"Georgy Girl," written by Springfield and actor/composer Jim Dale (Barnum) for the film starring Lynn Redgrave, James Mason, and Alan Bates, was their biggest American success, released late in 1966 and reaching number two in early 1967. The group's British album Come the Day, released late in 1966, was slightly reconfigured with the addition of the hit and released in America as Georgy Girl, probably the best of all their LPs, containing a stunning array of originals by Springfield and Woodley, and superb covers of songs such as Tom Paxton's "The Last Thing on My Mind."

By this time, however, changing tastes in America were starting to catch up with the Seekers. They enjoyed hits of differing proportions on both sides of the Atlantic with "Morningtown Ride," and had two more chart singles in England, their days as a top-selling recording act in the United States were clearly numbered. It didn't have to be that way -- they'd had the chance to perform at the 1967 Academy Awards ceremonies that spring, which would have allowed them to be seen by tens millions of Americans, but they had concert obligations in England. By the time the first whiffs of the druggy Summer of Love wafted over the Monterey Pop Festival (where the Seekers didn't appear, but Simon & Garfunkel did), along with the echoes of psychedelic blues, the Seekers were on the wrong side of the musical divide -- Simon & Garfunkel bridged the gap between teenagers and their parents, seeming cool to the former and pleasant to the latter, but the Seekers were losing the kids in America. Their upbeat pop sound seemed increasingly out of touch with the darkening mood in the United States, especially among the kids.

In England, however, the group's commercial fortunes continued into 1968 and beyond. Their 1968 concert album, Live at the Talk of the Town -- which showed them less a folk group than a pop outfit -- got to number two and became their best-selling British album to date. The company followed this with The Best of the Seekers, which reached number one in 1969. By that time, Judith Durham had decided to leave, and the group was officially disbanded in early 1969 following a farewell concert that was broadcast on British television.

As it turned out, the Seekers didn't quite vanish. Keith Potger organized and managed a group christened the New Seekers, with an entirely new membership, who cultivated the same audience that had brought his old outfit to the top of the charts at the end of the '60s -- more reminiscent of groups such as the Serendipity Singers or the latter-day New Christy Minstrels, they were far more of a pop outfit than a folk group. They made an international hit out of the Coca-Cola jingle "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing," perhaps the first corporate anthem to top the charts.

The Seekers themselves had a partial reunion in Australia in 1975 with Louisa Wisseling substituting for Judith Durham, who had embarked on a fairly successful solo career, with one hit single, "Olive Tree," and a 1973 album entitled Here I Am to her credit. The re-formed group's new recording of "Sparrow Song" topped the Australian charts. The mid-'70s also saw the release of a pair of Seekers compilations in England and America, although the American Very Best of the Seekers was peculiar, since "Georgy Girl" wasn't on it. In 1988, another hits compilation came out in England, and in the early '90s a British hits compilation finally appeared on compact disc. Then, in 1992, Capitol Records in America released a 24-song retrospective as part of its Capitol Collectors Series, which has since been deleted.

A 1990 car crash left Durham severely injured, but in 1994, the original members of the group, including Durham, re-formed and played more than 100 concerts, including a series of silver anniversary shows at the Royal Albert Hall. That same year, The Colours of My Life, a biography of Durham by Graham Simpson, was published. Finally, in 1997, a box set of the complete recorded work of the Seekers, filling five CDs, was released in Australia.


The Seekers are an Australian folk-influenced pop quartet, originally formed in Melbourne in 1962. They were the first Australian pop music group to achieve major chart and sales success in the United Kingdom and the United States. They were popular during the 1960s with their best-known configuration as: Judith Durham on vocals, piano and tambourine; Athol Guy on double bass and vocals; Keith Potger on twelve-string guitar, banjo and vocals; and Bruce Woodley on guitar, mandolin, banjo and vocals.

The group had Top 10 hits in the 1960s with "I'll Never Find Another You", "A World of Our Own", "Morningtown Ride", "Someday, One Day" (written by Paul Simon), "Georgy Girl" (the title song of the film of the same name), and "The Carnival Is Over" (their rendition of a Russian folk song which the Seekers have sung at various closing ceremonies in Australia, including World Expo 88 and the Paralympics, and is still in the top 50 best-selling singles in the UK). Australian music historian Ian McFarlane described their style as "concentrated on a bright, uptempo sound, although they were too pop to be considered strictly folk and too folk to be rock."

In 1968, they were named as joint Australians of the Year – the only group thus honoured. In July of that year, Durham left to pursue a solo career and the group disbanded. The band has reformed periodically, and in 1995 they were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. "I'll Never Find Another You" was added to the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia's Sounds of Australia registry in 2011. Woodley's and Dobe Newton's song "I Am Australian", which was recorded by the Seekers, and by Durham with Russell Hitchcock and Mandawuy Yunupingu, has become an unofficial Australian anthem. With "I'll Never Find Another You" and "Georgy Girl", the band also achieved success in the United States, but not nearly at the same level as in the rest of the world. As of 2004, the Seekers have sold over fifty million records worldwide.

An Australian group[edit]

The Seekers were formed in 1962 in Melbourne by Athol Guy on double bass, Keith Potger on twelve-string guitar and Bruce Woodley on guitar. Guy, Potger and Woodley had all attended Melbourne Boys High School. In the late 1950s Potger led The Trinamics, a rock 'n' roll group, Guy led the Ramblers, and, with Woodley, they decided to form a doo-wop group, the Escorts. The Escorts had Ken Ray as the lead singer and in 1962 they became the Seekers. Ray left the group to get married. His place was taken by Judith Durham, who was an established traditional jazz singer, having recorded an extended play disc on W&G Records with the Melbourne group Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers.

Durham and Guy had met when they both worked in an advertising agency – initially Durham only sang periodically with the Seekers, when not performing at jazz clubs. She was replaced in the jazz ensemble by Margret RoadKnight. The Seekers performed folk-influenced pop music and soon gathered a strong following in Melbourne. Durham's connections with W&G Records led to the group signing with the label. Their debut album, Introducing The Seekers, was released in 1963. Their debut single was the bush ballad, "Waltzing Matilda", which appeared in November and reached the Melbourne top 40 singles chart. When being photographed for the album's cover, Potger was replaced by Ray – his day job with the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) as a radio producer barred him from involvement in a commercial enterprise.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

Discovery in the United Kingdom[edit]

The Seekers were offered a twelve-month position as on-board entertainment on the Sitmar cruise liner, Fairsky, in March 1964. In May, they travelled to the UK and had intended to return to Australia after staying ten weeks, but upon arrival they were offered work by a London booking agency, the Grade Organisation. They signed with World Record Club and issued a single, "Myra" – which was co-written by the group. The group regularly appeared on a UK TV series, Call in on Carroll, hosted by Ronnie Carroll.

After filling in on a bill headlined by Dusty Springfield, they met her brother, songwriter and producer Tom Springfield, who had experience with folk-pop material with the siblings' earlier group the Springfields. He penned "I'll Never Find Another You", which they recorded in November 1964. It was released by EMI Records, on their Columbia label, in December and was championed by the offshore radio station Radio Caroline. Despite the fact that the group had not signed a contract with EMI, the single reached the UK Top 40 and began selling well. In February 1965, it reached No. 1 in the UK and Australia, and No. 4 in the United States where it was released on EMI's Capitol label. "I'll Never Find Another You" was the second biggest selling single in the UK for 1965 and went on to sell 1.75 million copies worldwide.

The Seekers were the first Australian pop group to have a top 5 hit in all three countries – Australia, UK and US. Australian music historian, Ian McFarlane described their style as "concentrated on a bright, uptempo sound, although they were too pop to be considered strictly folk and too folk to be rock." The distinctive soprano voice of Durham, the group's harmonies and memorable songs encouraged the UK media, including the BBC, to give them exposure, allowing them to appeal to a broad cross-section of the pop audience.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

String of hits[edit]

The Seekers achieved their first success in the US in 1965 with their highly popular hit, "I'll Never Find Another You", reaching peaks of #4 Pop and #2 Easy Listening in Billboard magazine surveys. They followed "I'll Never Find Another You" with "What Have They Done to the Rain?" in February 1965 which did not chart in the top 40. In May, another Tom Springfield composition followed, "A World of Our Own", which reached top 3 in Australia and the UK and top 20 in the US. Malvina Reynolds' lullaby "Morningtown Ride" was issued in Australia in July and peaked in the top 10. "The Carnival Is Over" (the melody is based on a Russian folk song, while the remaining music and lyrics were written by Tom Springfield), appeared in November, which reached No. 1 in both Australia and the UK. At its peak, the single was selling 93,000 copies a day in the UK alone.

Also in 1965, they met Paul Simon (of Simon & Garfunkel) who was pursuing a solo career in the UK following the initial poor chart success of the duo's debut LP, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.. In 1966, the Seekers released the Simon-penned "Someday One Day", which reached No. 4 in Australia and No. 11 in the UK. Their version was Simon's first UK success as a songwriter, and his first major hit as a composer outside of his work with Art Garfunkel. Woodley co-wrote some songs with Simon, including "Red Rubber Ball" which became a US No. 2 single for the Cyrkle. The Seekers' version was provided on their 1966 LP Come the Day (released as Georgy Girl in the US).

Early in 1966, after returning to Australia, the Seekers filmed their first TV special, At Home with the Seekers. The band were named "Best New Group of 1965" at the 1966 New Musical Express Poll Winners Awards. They appeared at the celebratory Wembley Arena concert, on a bill which included the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield and the Animals. The same year, the group appeared at a Royal Command Performance at the London Palladium, before Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. In November, a re-recorded version of "Morningtown Ride" was released in the UK, which reached No. 2. The song had been recorded earlier as an Australian single from the 1964 album Hide and Seekers and appeared on the 1965 American debut, The New Seekers. In February 1967, "Morningtown Ride" reached the top 50 in the US.

In December 1966 they issued "Georgy Girl", which became their highest charting US hit when it reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Cashbox Top 100 in February 1967. It was the title song for the film of the same name and sold 3.5 million copies worldwide. The band were awarded a gold record certificate by the Recording Industry Association of America. Meanwhile it was No. 3 in the UK, and No. 1 in Australia. Its writers, Jim Dale and Tom Springfield, were nominated for the 1967 Academy Award for Best Original Song of 1966, but lost out to the title song from the film Born Free.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

Return to Australia and break up[edit]

In March 1967, the Seekers returned to Australia for a homecoming tour, which included a performance at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne, attended by an estimated audience of 200,000. Guinness Book of World Records (1968) listed it as the greatest attendance at a concert in the Southern Hemisphere. Melburnians were celebrating the annual Moomba Festival, a free community festival, and many thousands were enjoying other attractions but are included in the crowd estimate. The Seekers were accompanied during their 20-minute set by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Hector Crawford. Film of their appearance was incorporated into their 1967 Australian television special The Seekers Down Under, which was screened on Channel 7 and drew a then record audience of over 6 million.

In January 1968, on Australia Day, in recognition of its achievements, the group was named joint Australians of the Year – the only group to have this honour bestowed upon it. They personally accepted their awards from John Gorton, the Prime Minister of Australia, during their tour. During this visit, the group filmed another TV special, The World of the Seekers, which was screened in cinemas before being screened nationally on Channel 9 to high ratings and is in the Top 10 most watched TV shows of the 20th century in Australia.

In July 1968, Durham announced that she was leaving the Seekers to pursue a solo career and the group disbanded. Their final performance, on 7 July, was screened live by the BBC as a special called Farewell the Seekers, with an audience of more than 10 million viewers. The special had been preceded by a week-long season at London's Talk of the Town nightclub and a live recording of one of their shows was released as a live LP record, The Seekers Say Goodbye Live from the Talk of the Town. It reached No. 2 on the UK charts. Also in July, the compilation album The Seekers' Greatest Hits was released and spent 17 weeks at No. 1 in Australia. It was re-titled as The Best of the Seekers in the UK and spent 6 weeks at No. 1 in 1969, managing to knock the Beatles' (White Album) off the top of the charts and preventing the Rolling Stones' Beggars Banquet from reaching the top spot. The album spent 125 weeks in the charts in the UK.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

Reunions in the 1970s and 1980s[edit]

Following the Seekers' split, Durham pursued a solo career. She released a Christmas album called For Christmas with Love (recorded in Hollywood, California) and later signed with A&M Records, releasing more albums including, A Gift of Song and Climb Ev'ry Mountain. Guy hosted his own TV show in Australia, A Guy Called Athol, before entering politics in 1973. In 1969, Potger formed and managed another group, the New Seekers in the UK, which were more pop-oriented. Woodley released several solo albums and focused on songwriting, including co-writing the patriotic song "I Am Australian" with Dobe Newton (of the Bushwackers) in 1987.

From 1972, Guy, Potger and Woodley planned on reforming the Seekers without Durham. By 1975 they had recruited Louisa Wisseling, a semi-professional folk singer formerly with Melbourne group the Settlers. They had a top 10 Australian hit with the Woodley-penned "The Sparrow Song". Woodley left the group in June 1977 and was replaced by Buddy England, a former 1960s pop singer and member of the Mixtures. In 1978, Guy was replaced by Peter Robinson (ex-Strangers) and the group issued an album, All Over the World in November. In 1988, Guy, Potger and Woodley reformed the Seekers with Julie Anthony, a popular cabaret singer. In May, the group sang "The Carnival Is Over" at the World Expo 88 in Brisbane. In April 1989, the group re-recorded some of their earlier work for The Seekers Live On, which peaked in the top 30 on the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Albums Chart. In June 1990, Anthony left and was replaced by Karen Knowles, a former teen pop singer on Young Talent Time. However the unique timbre of Durham's voice was missing from their sound and the group split again.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

1990s and 2000s[edit]

The Seekers reunited late in 1992, with the classic line-up of Durham, Guy, Potger and Woodley. In March 1992, all four met together, for the first time in 20 years, at a restaurant in Toorak. Before then they had never talked about reforming, they just wanted to get to know each other again. It was two months later that they decided to do a reunion. A 25-Year Silver Jubilee Reunion Celebration tour in 1993 was sufficiently successful that the group remained together for a further 11 years. They staged several sell-out tours of Australia, New Zealand and the UK. The reformed group issued more albums, including new studio albums Future Road in November 1997 (which peaked at No. 4 on the ARIA Albums Chart) and Morningtown Ride to Christmas (which reached the top 20 in 2001).

In 1995, the group were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. In the build up to the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics, an ABC TV satire, The Games, parodied the Seekers in the final episode, "The End". Durham had suffered a broken hip and sang "The Carnival Is Over" in a wheelchair at the closing ceremony of the related Paralympic Games on 29 October. Long Way to the Top was a 2001 Australian Broadcasting Corporation six-part documentary on the history of Australian rock and roll from 1956 to the modern era. The Seekers featured on the second episode, "Ten Pound Rocker 1963–1968", broadcast on 22 August, in which Durham and Woodley discussed their early work on a cruise ship, meeting Tom Springfield and their success in Britain. Four of their songs were played during the episode: "I'll Never Find Another You", "The Carnival Is Over", "A World of Our Own" and "Georgy Girl".

In October 2002, on the 40th anniversary of their formation, they were the subjects of a special issue of Australian postage stamps. On 1 September 2006, they were presented with the Key to the City by Melbourne's Lord Mayor, John So. In February 2009, SBS TV program RocKwiz hosted a 50th anniversary concert at the Myer Music Bowl, RocKwiz Salutes the Bowl, which included "World of Our Own" performed by Rebecca Barnard and Billy Miller and "The Carnival Is Over" by Durham.

In 2004 a DVD, The Seekers at Home and Down Under, was released. It consists of a 1966 television documentary on the Seekers and a 1967 special. The cover includes a photo from the 1966 documentary.

In October 2010, The Best of the Seekers (1968), was listed in the book 100 Best Australian Albums. Also in October, they were scheduled to tour various Australian cities in support of violinist André Rieu and his orchestra,however,the tour was postponed when Rieu was taken ill. They released another Greatest Hits compilation in May 2011 which peaked in the top 40. That month they supported Rieu on the rescheduled Australian tour. "I'll Never Find Another You" was added to the National Film and Sound Archive of the Sounds of Australia registry in 2011. "The Seekers Golden Jubilee Tour" kicked off 2013 in May, celebrating fifty years since the group formed in December 2012. Performing in Sydney, Brisbane, Newcastle and Melbourne, the group received rave reviews to sold out audiences. However, Judith Durham suffered a brain hemorrhage after their first concert in Melbourne. The rest of the Australian tour and (later to be staged) UK tour were postponed; the former continuing in November, and the UK tour scheduled to take place in May and June 2014. The UK tour includes two planned performances at the Royal Albert Hall, London.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

Million sellers[edit]

The following recordings by the Seekers were each certified as having sold over one million copies: "I'll Never Find Another You", "A World of Our Own", "The Carnival is Over" and "Georgy Girl". They were each awarded a gold disc. As of 2004, the Seekers have sold 60 million recordings worldwide.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

Notable performances[edit]

1965 — The Seekers performed in the United States on The Ed Sullivan Show.1966 — In November, The Seekers performed on a Royal Command Performance at the London Palladium before the Queen Mother.1967 — The Seekers made another appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.1967 — The Seekers represented Australia at Expo 67 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (when they appeared on television in Australia via the first satellite transmission from America to Australia).

Television specials[edit]

1965 — An Evening with The Seekers1966 — The Seekers at Home1967 — The Seekers Down Under and The World of The SeekersFour television mini-specials titled A Date With The Seekers
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Tour Dates All Dates Dates In My Area

Date Venue Location Tickets
04.28.14 St. David's Hall Cardiff, Cardiff UK
05.01.14 Royal Concert Hall Nottingham, Ntt UK
05.04.14 Philharmonic Hall Liverpool, Lancashire UK
05.07.14 Brighton Centre Brighton, Bnh UK
05.10.14 Sage Gateshead Gateshead, Edh UK
05.13.14 Glasgow Royal Concert Hall Glasgow, Glg UK
05.14.14 Glasgow Royal Concert Hall Glasgow, Glg UK
05.18.14 York Barbican Centre York, North Yorkshire UK
05.20.14 Waterfront Hall Belfast, Bfs ND
05.23.14 Bournemouth International Centre Bournemouth, Bmh UK