“THE YODELLING BOUNDARY RIDER”
The first of our country music
legends to be elevated to the Roll, at its opening in 1976, was
a man considered to be the father of Australasian Country Music
Tex Morton lived a life of
breath-taking achievement. He attained fortune and huge
international fame in several careers: a recording star (300
songs), singer-songwriter, stage artist (touring sensation in
North America, Europe, Australasia), circus entrepreneur,
best-selling comic writer, Hollywood screen actor, and with a
Doctorate from McGill University, a world authority and renowned
performer of hypnotherapy.
1916 - Born
on August 30th in the
New Zealand township
1920's - Was in the Boy Scouts
and became one of two scouts to achieve the coveted Kings Scout
1930's - Attended Nelson College
for less than two years. At age of 14 he ran away from home.
1932 - Took the name Tex Morton”
from a sign seen on a Waihi garage and made first recording, 16
sides on aluminium discs recorded in Wellington on Speakphone.
At 16 he joined the "The Gaities" travelling show.
1933 - At age 17 departed for
better opportunities in Australia.
He began as a busker in Sydney
with an old suitcase and a battered guitar, but
was experiencing the effects of the Depression and he did not do
well. He was forced to find a job - anything on offer.
He found work labouring at Luna
and on construction of the
He also sang at showgrounds, outside bars and at race-courses,
and did stints as a drover and shearer.
Hungry for experience,
drifted up to
where he led a rough and tumble life, jumping trains and
sleeping in the open. He worked on various roadshows - he
was a star boxer, a sideshow motorcycle racer riding the "wall
of death" and a wild animal tamer.
As well as joining a circus (by the age of 23, with Lance
Skulthorpe Jr, he would have his own travelling cowboy show) he
hustled Tim Tyler, the A&R man at Columbia Gramophone Company,
for an audition. He persuaded Tyler
to give him a break and recorded a song called "You’re going to
leave the old home, Jim", then talked a
radio station into playing it. He won first prize in a 2KY
talent quest and recorded eight singles (a few of his own
composition) for Columbia Records. Worked as an electrical hand
for Neon Signs in Sydney.
Rode a motorbike at the Sydney
show in the "Wall of Death". Cut his first records with EMI's
Regal Zonaphone label. "Happy Yodeller" being one of the songs
recorded. Appeared on the radio serials on Radio station 2KY.
Mid to late 30’s Morton
flourished as a recording star, a public speaker, and radio wit.
Extremely prolific, he recorded 18 singles in 1936, 16 in 1937,
18 in 1938 and 16 in 1939. He took time to polish his
marksmanship skills with Lionel Bibby, the Australian-born world
champion marksman, developing his talent to the stage where he
consistently defeated Lionel.
He became the top selling
recording artist in Australia
during the 1930's, outselling Bing Crosby, Gracie Fields and
1938 - Organised the
first of his touring shows, regularly performing to over 2000
people up to six nights a week.
1939 - World War 2- The army
had taken over some of Tex's
trucks and with petrol rationing placing a strain on transport,
worked a lot of shows for the War Effort Entertainment for the
troops in Australia
and Pacific Isles.
1941 - Released "Mandrake"
with the Rough Riders Band, Australia
first country music band. Dick Carr on non electrified steel;
Sister Dorrie on piano accordian; George Raymond of fiddle and
on rhythm guitar.
Ceased recording due to dispute with
1943 - Made his last recording for Columbia and did
not record again till 1949.
1945 - Reformed his travelling
show and published a series of comics, "Tex Morton's Wild West
Comic" which had a circulation of 100,000 copies a month in
1949 - While travelling with
"Franquin the Hypnotist", Franquin became ill and
did the show by himself. Recorded in New Zealand
for new company formed by Ralph Peer, an American who discovered
Jimmy Rodgers and the Carter Family. Tex
cut 24 sides (in one session) on the Tasman Label (released as
Rodeo in Australia).
Offered a recording contact in
by Ralph Peer.
1949 and 1950 - Recorded more than 2 dozen
tracks on the new Rodeo Lable.
1950's - Travelled to the
First Australian to appear on "The Grand Ol' Opry" in
Spent a couple of years as one of
most sort after TV character actors. Obtained a B.A. and PhD
from a Canadian University
in hypo-therapy. Toured with Hank Williams. Was one of the most
famous entertainers in
From 52 to 58 he toured Canada and the United States as
a stage hypnotist, sharp shooter, memory expert, whip cracker
1953 - He added to his vast
repertoire of songs on disc by recording with guitarist Chet
Atkins and his band members Floyd Cramer, Tommy Jackson and
Jerry Byrd). The tracks included his own compositions and the
album, recorded in the famous studios at the Tulane Hotek in
found its way to
as "The Tex Morton Story".
1959 - Returned to
a "Grand Ol' Opry" show which included Roy Acuff, June Webb and
the Wilburn Brothers.. Took out a
small touring show, but as things had changed with economic
conditions and the introduction of TV it was not well received.
1960 - Recorded 3 albums of
monologue of poems of Banjo Patterson plus 2 albums of C.J.
Dennis poems. Set out on a tour to the
as "The Great Morton".
1960's - Back Australia he made
a sentimental journey to the Australian outback, taking his
two-way shortwave radio and travelling in a station wagon with
three companions - a cat, a terrier and a magpie.
1966 - Formed partnership with
Athol McCoy and toured Australia
as "The Morton and McCoys".
1967 - Returned to
to compare and star in a TV show "Country Touch". He compared
the show for 3 years.
1970 - On return to
he brought The Hamilton Country Bluegrass Band with him. They
eventually went on to tour with Slim Dusty.
Trying unsuccessfully to lose
Robert Morton subsequently became a frequent actor on Australian
television and earned a reputation as one of
best character actors with roles like the prison governor in
“Stir” and the crooked politician in “Goodbye Paradise”.
and Buddy Williams combine their talents for a joint show and
1973 - Changed record label
from EMI to Picture Records and recorded "The Goondiwindi Grey"
and folk poem monologue album "Tex Morton's Australia".
Produced children's records.
1974 - Winner of Golden Guitar
for APRA Song of the Year- “The Goondiwindi Grey”, written by
Wallace and Hauritz.
1975 - Appeared on TV shows
"Matlock"; "Class of '75"; "Stir"; "We Of The Never Never"; plus
others. Also appeared in films and TV shows in the States.
1976 - First to be elevated to
the Roll Of Renown after being named "Father of Australasian
Country Music". A bronze bust was erected in
1977 - Recorded voice over for
television and radio advertisement "Where do ya Get It?". Also
won the "Raw Prawn" award for Australia's
worst TV commercial.
1977 - Inducted into the Hands
of Fame in
1981 - Festival Records released
a selection of the best in the album "Tex Morton with Sister
Dorrie - You and My Old Guitar". An early selection of his very
first Regal Zonophone 78s has been re-released on tape, Vinyl
and Compact Disc by EMI on tape, vinyl and Compact Disc.
1982 - Final public
performance to a crowd of 4000 in 2TM's Big Top in
during the Country Music Festival.
1983 - Died on July 23 aged 65
from lung cancer. He is buried in his hometown of
alongside his parents in
"A millionaire in
the experience of Life"