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TEX MORTON - 1976

Tex Morton

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.

1916- Born Robert Lane on August 30th in the New Zealand township of Nelson.

1920's- Was in the Boy Scouts and became one of two scouts to achieve the coveted Kings Scout Badge.

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  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 he moved to Australia. He became the top selling recording artist in Australia during the 1930's, outselling Bing Crosby, Gracie Fields and Frank Sinatra.

1934- Worked as an electrical hand for Neon Signs in Sydney.

1935- Travelled with the Circus across the top end to Darwin.

1936- Rode a motorbike at the Sydney show in the "Wall of Death".

1936- Cut his first records with EMI's Regal Zonophone label. "Happy Yodeller" being one of the songs recorded. Appeared on the radio serials on Radio station 2KY.

1936 to 1943- Recorded 93 sides on Regal Zonophone label.

1939- World War 2- The army had taken over some of Tex's trucks and with petrol rationing placing a strain on transport, Tex 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 Tex on rhythm guitar.
Ceased recording due to dispute with record company.

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 Australia and New Zealand.

1949- While travelling with "Franquin the Hypnotist", Franquin became ill and Tex 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 America by Ralph Peer.

1950's- Travelled to the USA and Canada. First Australian to appear on "The Grand Ol' Opry" in Nashville. Spent a couple of years as one of Hollywood's most sort after TV character actors. Obtained a B.A. and PhD from a Canadian University in hypo-therapy. Toured with Hank Williams.

1959- Returned to Australia. Brought to Australia a "Grand Ol' Opry" show which included Roy Acuff. 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 Far East, England and Europe as "The Great Morton".

1960's- Back Australia 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 New Zealand to compare and star in a TV show "Country Touch". On return to Australia he brought The Hamilton Country Bluegrass Band with him. They eventually went on to tour with Slim Dusty.

1972- Tex and Buddy Williams combine their talents for a joint show and album release.

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 Bicentennial Park, in Tamworth.

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 Tamworth.

1982- Final public performance to a crowd of 5000 in 2TM's Big Top in Tamworth during the Country Music Festival.
1983 - Died on July 23 aged 65 in Sydney from lung cancer. He is buried in his hometown of Nelson, New Zealand along side his parents in Marsden Valley Cemetery.

His Epitaph reads- "A millionaire in the experience of Life"