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The 60s pop group and its own front woman Judith Durham, who died the other day, were countercultural in the simplest way.

Photo of Athol GUY and Bruce WOODLEY and Judith DURHAM and Keith POTGER and SEEKERS

(GAB Archive/Redferns via Getty Images)

A couple weeks ago, a YouTube video of a 1967 performance of the catchy tune Georgy Girl popped through to my screen. Remembering the song from my childhoodand only the song, not the group singing it, since i have was four during its releaseI clicked and instantly fell beneath the spell of Judith Durham and her boys.

These were The Seekers, a pop group unlike any in the 1960s. First, they hailed from Australia, not america or Britain. Second, they didnt appear to be others. The charmingly dimpled Judith sewed her very own modest stage frocks, as the three young menAthol Guy, Keith Potger, and Bruce Woodleyresembled bank tellers a lot more than rock n rollers, as you observer put it. They strummed and sang while clad in dark suits, and in Athols case, Clark Kent spectacles. Formal and clean-cut, that they had the time of these lives, each time.

They coalesced organically instead of through targeted recruiting for a particular sound or character. The men had attended exactly the same Melbourne senior high school, while Judith met Athol on her behalf first trip to a fresh secretarial job. He invited her to become listed on his group for a gig that night at an area coffee house, also it was clear that the four had chemistry. For another six years, they shot comet-like over the musical firmament, turning out such hits as Ill Never Find Another You, An environment of OUR VERY OWN, and The Carnival has ended, displacing the Rolling Stones along with other flashy bands on the musical charts. The buoyant Georgy Girl, composed for a British film with exactly the same name, reached number 2 in the usa and earned an Oscar nomination as 1966s Best Original Song (regrettably losing out to some other film song, Born Free). The groups success produced from a keen knowledge of their very own capabilities instead of from heeding musical trends. Whether plaintive ballads or rousing spirituals, they recorded only the songs that felt right for them.

Judith died on August 5th at age 79, in the same way I was learning her. But her radiant voice have been immediately obvious. Elton John called it among the two purest voices he previously have you ever heard (another belonged to Karen Carpenter). It had been not merely beautiful; it had been powerful. In a single barn-burning rendition of IT IS POSSIBLE TO Tell the planet from 1965 (on YouTube), Judith begins as just one single voice among four, but takes command following the opening chorus with palpable conviction.

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Yet Judith was no prima donna. She had that soprano, however the boys (as she liked to call them) contributed in essential, if less salient, ways. Athol, who stood nearly as tall because the double bass he used gleeful abandon, was the affable paterfamilias; Keith, the marquee guitarist with the cheerful mien; and Bruce, the versatile instrumentalist and songwriter. That they had set up some basic rules (all had to acknowledge which songs to record, for instance), nonetheless it was their unwritten code of conductbesides their looks and oeuvrethat made them so counter-cultural. Unfailingly positive and self-effacing, they supported each other always, at the very least in public areas. Judith claimed these were simply normal, hard-working folks from similar backgrounds. They shared values, not least which was a wholesome respect for discretion. When one interviewer tried to wheedle out drama by asking about internecine romance, Judith diplomatically shut him down: I had a crush on each one of these at various stages, she smiled, sweetly.

It appears that the closest they found real drama was when Judith announced in February of 1968 that she was leaving to pursue a solo career. Reflecting on that decision later, she revealed struggles with anxiety, especially about her weight, and her need to get married. (She wed musical director Ron Edgeworth in 1969.) She didnt anticipate the devastating impact her exit could have on her behalf fans or, evidently, her fellow Seekers, who all went their separate ways. Judiths solo career flourished. Athol considered business and politics, serving three terms in the Victorian Legislative Assembly as an associate of the center-right Liberal Party. He also bred thoroughbreds, telling one interviewer that friends stopped accompanying him to races because he yelled an excessive amount of. Keith stayed in music, forming another groupThe New Seekersbest known today because of its hit single Id Prefer to Teach the planet to Sing. Bruce produced television jingles and continued writing songs for various performers. Once the foursome finally reunited in 1993 for a tour, Judith apologized to her bandmates for the hurt she had caused twenty-five years earlier. As soon as you said that, everything was gone, Bruce informed her gently, patting her shoulder.

That had been The Seekers way. For Judith, Athol, Keith, and Bruce, decency never died. Even fame through the subversive 1960s hadnt killed it. Judiths boys gallantly guarded her girl-next-door reputation while respecting her immense talent before very end. About her death the other day, Athol said with respect to her three surviving cavaliers: Our lives are changed forever losing our treasured lifelong friend and shining star.

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