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Slim Dusty, 76; Australian Country Singer-Songwriter

September 20, 2003|From Associated Press

Australian country music singer Slim Dusty, who personified the laid-back culture of the outback in his songs, has died, his record company said Friday. He was 76.

Dusty died at home early Friday after a protracted battle with cancer, said Chris O'Hearne, marketing manager for EMI Australia.

"He was so intrinsically and unapologetically Australian," music historian Glenn A. Baker said of the star. "He really was someone to be enormously proud of."

Dusty was born David Gordon Kirkpatrick in 1927 in the northeastern coastal town of Kempsey, and grew up on a dairy farm in the nearby village of Nulla Nulla Creek.

At 10, he wrote his first song, "The Way the Cowboy Dies," and a year later renamed himself Slim Dusty.

The singer - songwriter signed his first recording contract in 1946. But it wasn't until 1958 that his career really took off, when he recorded "A Pub With No Beer," about a stockman -- the Australian name for a cowboy -- who travels hundreds of miles to an outback bar only to find it has run out of beer.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said Dusty created a distinctive Australian brand of country music.

"We'll always remember that special style, epitomized really by 'A Pub With No Beer,' " Howard said.

Dusty went on to be one of the most prolific and biggest-selling recording artists in Australia, with more than 100 albums and a total of 5 million in sales. He performed dozens of concerts across the nation each year, often playing with his family.

His left kidney was removed after a cancerous tumor was detected in November 2001, and he received continuous treatment. Dusty was recording his 106th album when he died.

He is survived by his wife, Joy McKean; a son; and a daughter.

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