1937 – Born James Oswald Little on the 1st
of March at Cumeragunga Mission Settlement on the Murray River
near Barmah, a member of the Yorta Yorta tribe.
1951 – Commenced his singing career.
1953 - Age 16 competed in Australia’s Amateur Hour with
his dobro guitar.
1954 - The Jimmy Little trio is established in Sydney
under Pat Ware’s management. Teamed up with Pat Ware as the
They received 12 encores at the Grove
Inn Hotel, Kingsgrove for their rendition of Slim Whitman’s
1956 - On August 11, Jimmy cut his first tracks on a 78
for Regal Zonophone, “Mysteries of Life”
and “Heartbreak Waltz”. Jimmy and Pat fly regularly from Sydney
to Melbourne to appear on radio 3XY.The same year he marries his
fiancé Marjorie Peters from Walgett.
1957 – Songs written by Jimmy Little and Pat Ware are
accepted by an American publishing company that supplied songs
to Webb Pierce and Hank Locklin and more.
1958 - Records 4 sides with a single guitar for Columbia
Records including ‘The Coloured Lad’. Jimmy swaps labels and
goes to Australia’s own recording company “Festival”.
Records pop ballads for
Festival with backing from Col Joye and the Joye Boys with Pat
Ware on lead guitar.
1959 - Made his TV debut on Channel 7 with the Jimmy
Little Trio on “Sydney Tonight”, “The Keith Walsh Tonight Show”.
After the next few years he was a regular on Bandstand, Six
O’Clock Rock and Sing, Sing, Sing.
He was the first
aboriginal entertainer to appear on television.
1959 – Featured on Roy Acuff’s “Grand Ol’ Opry Show” at
the Sydney Stadium.
Signed to Festival Records. 45 years later Jimmy is still making
music with the Festival Mushroom Group who only recently
celebrated their 50th year as a record company. Jimmy's first
Festival recording was a 45rpm extended play record called
"Ballads with a Beat" that reached top ten in the popular
Australian music charts. This heralded a steady stream of
extended plays, singles and albums throughout the 60s'.
Jimmy had begun an acting career in the late 1950’s with
a major role in the film “Shadow of the Boomerang” in 1961. This
was followed with his other roles on the theatre stage in plays
such as "Black Cockatoo" and films by Tracy Moffatt as well as
Wim Wenders film “Until the end of the World”.
1963 - Releases the chart topping "Royal Telephone",
selling more than 75,000 copies it achieved gold record status
and has now become one of his signature tunes. His nationwide
profile grew through regular television appearances, radio
airplay and constant touring.
1964 - Australian national magazine “Everybody's”, which
was the bible of the teen scene in the early 60s' named Jimmy
Australian Pop Star of the Year.
With his effortless, silky smooth vocal style atop the
lush orchestrated arrangements of the early 60s', Jimmy began
adopting a more traditional country sound as the decade
- Performed a Royal Command performance at Elder
Park for the Queen Mother.
1965 - Organised the first all aboriginal show in Sydney
at Anzac House.
1969 - 2TM presents “The All Star Jimmy Little Show” at
Town Hall with “The Singing Kettles, Johnny Heap, Geoff
Brown, Gary Brown” plus others.
1970’s - Co-starred with Marty Robbins at the Mooroopna
(Vic) Country Music. Shared equal billing with Charlie Pride.
1972 - Although mostly recognised for country musical
style, he kept his fondness for big orchestral sounds alive in
his 1972 album 'Winterwood'.
1974 - He quickly followed that with his top ten hit
single 'Baby Blue' in 1974, and subsequent releases continued in
1978 - Double album set 'An Evening with Jimmy Little' -
live at The Sydney Opera House. Released his 21st album signed
under Festival and was travelling with the Jimmy Little All Star
Inducted into the Hands of Fame in Tamworth.
1983 - He recorded the single, “Beautiful Woman” with
American producer Ricky Fataar. As it is in the tradition of
reggae music Jimmy aimed to inspire indigenous youth as a role
model and as a mentor/teacher for the indigenous adult education
course at the Eora college for performing arts in Redfern. Today
Jimmy remains committed to indigenous education and continues to
use his recognition and success as an entertainer, spending
considerable time as an indigenous ambassador for the Department
of Training, Youth and Educations literacy and numeracy
indigenous education program.
1985 - Was asked to teach at the Eora Centra, a training
college for Aboriginals in Redfern, Sydney.
As well as appearing in Tracy Moffatt's
The Night Cries
and the opera
his teaching and community work earned him the title of NAIDOC
Aboriginal of the Year in 1989.
1990 - South Australian Country Music Festival Awards-
Inducted into the Hall of Fame.
In the early 1990s he rejoined the Country touring
circuit as a member of the “Kings of Country” revue.
1991 - Had a roll in the film “Until the End of the
World” with Sam Neil, William Hurt and Ernie Dingo.
1992 - Performed at the “Tamworth on Parad” and “Kings
of Country Roadshows”.
1994 - In recognition of his outstanding career in
country music he was elevated to the prestigious Tamworth Roll
releasing his 14th album,
Yorta Yorta Man
1997 – Mo Awards wins The John Campbell Fellowship
1998 – Jimmy and Pat Ware recommence their joint song
writing and songs are recorded by other country artists
including Christina George and John Vaughan.
1999 - At the insistence of Brendan Gallagher, a
musician and producer, they recorded an album of mainly
alternative and classic Australian rock songs from the 1980s.
The resulting album “Messenger” was an immediate success
reaching the top ten of the alternative music charts and
introducing Jimmy to a new young audience through extensive
airplay on the youth network Triple J FM. “Messenger” achieved
yet another gold record for Jimmy.
At the 1999 ARIA Music Awards “Messenger”
won 'Best Country Album' and 'Best Adult Contemporary Album',
with Jimmy also being inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. At
the 1999 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music Awards, he
won 'Best Male Artist of the Year' and 'Best Single Release of
2000 - Entertained our Olympic Athletes during the
Sydney 2000 festivities. Singing his way non-stop across the
Bridge with 250,000 other Australians, Jimmy also raised
his gentle voice for reconciliation along with other
entertainers lending their songs to a desire for change.
Became ambassador for the Department of Education,
Training and Science and travels to the Kimberley, The Alice and
to Newcastle encouraging indigenous kids to stay at school.
Jimmy’s original first recording of “Heartbreak Waltz”
is featured in the film “Six O’Clock Swill”.
The movie was entered at the Cannes Film
Festival and featured on television in France, Germany, Austria
Jimmy entered the sixth decade, he was diagnosed with serious
kidney disease. After a spell in hospital he began a regime of
daily self dialysis four times a day and returned to limited
live performances. While on tour Jimmy visited renal clinics and
community centres across Australia entertaining the staff and
patients and spreading his message of hope as living proof of a
productive life while on dialysis. He appeared in Television
programs promoting good health awareness in Northern and Western
Australia where kidney disease is rampant.
2001 – Another of his early Regal Zonaphone recordings
of “Sweet Mama” featured on the CD
“Long Way to the Top”.
The same song features in
the TV Video for children’s program “Worst Best Friends” for
Jimmy released the critically
acclaimed “Resonate” CD which featured a collection of beautiful
songs crafted by some of Australia's greatest songwriters.
2002 – “Messenger” album achieves huge sales resulting
in world trip promoting the record.
Signs in with ABC Records while Festival
requires a further album before releasing Jimmy from his
contract. Diagnosed with kidney failure.
the Golden Gospel Award at the Australian Gospel Music Awards
for his lifetime support of Australian spiritual music. Becomes
an ambassador for literacy and numeracy for the Department of
Education. Given an honorary doctorate in recognition for his
work in indigenous education.
2003 - CD release “Down the Road” on ABC records marked
Jimmy's long awaited return to country music and his latest
album “Life's what you make it” released by Festival/Mushroom
records sees him reunited again with “Messenger” producer
He was a guest of the Wiggles on their children's DVD
"Wiggly Wiggle World".
2004 - After nearly two years on dialysis Jimmy received
a kidney transplant in Feb 2. The operation was a complete
success and following a six month convalescence, Jimmy returned
to the nomadic troubadour lifestyle he thrives on.
the Jimmy Little Foundation to bring healthier futures to
A public vote named him a “National Living Treasure” and
Jimmy received an Australian Order (AO) for his life in the
entertainment industry and his ongoing work with indigenous
education and health.
Awarded an honorary doctorate in music as was Peter
Sculthorpe. This was in recognition of "Their joint contribution
to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous
Received the Classic Rock performer MO award of 2004.
He released his 34th album, "Life's what you make it" , a
collection of unique and poignant versions of songs by
contemporary writers as diverse as Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, PJ
Harvey, Neil Young, Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello and Bruce
2010 - A documentary entitled "Jimmy Little’s Gentle
Journey" was completed and shown on ABC TV.
2011 - Present with a Golden Guitar for "Lifetime
Achievement". Jimmy’s wife Marjorie passed away in July. Jimmy
retired from entertaining.
A wax sculpture of Jimmy is in the Big Golden Guitar Wax
Jimmy's "Star" is in the Gallery of Stars in the
forecourt of the Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference
2012 – Jimmy passed away on the 2nd