Smoky Dawson MBE(C), AM - 1978

Smoky Dawson

1913 - Born Herbert Henry Dawson on March 19, in Collingwood Melbourne Victoria. Both his mother and brother passed away soon after the war setting in motion a set of events that would see Herbert living on the streets.

1923 - He entered the St Vincent De Paul orphanage where he met Tex Banes. It was in the mid twenties that Herbert acquired the nickname of “Smoky”.

1932 - Formed a double act with his brother Ted. Recorded a number of blue vinyl discs at Collingwood.

1934 - Played steel guitar with "Smoky and the Pepsodent Rangers".

1935 - Went from 3JR Amateur Station to 3KZ.

1937 - Sponsored by Pepsodent for his show on 3KZ. Formed the "The South Sea Islanders" and had two radio spots per week.

1938 - Smoky and Dot formed Australia’s first hillbilly club in Melbourne.

1939 - His first songs were published by Melbourne’s leading Publisher of the time Allen’s.       

1940 - Worked as “The South Sea Islanders” with Isador Goodman's theatre orchestra at the Capitol.

1941 - Recorded “I’m A Happy Go Lucky Cowboy” at Homebush under legendary producer Arch Kerr with Columbia Records (EMI) which lasted over 30 years. March - celebrated 400th broadcast over 3KZ.

1942 - Second recording session at the Price Edward Theatre with backing by Bert Howell's Band. Recorded 26 episodes of radio adventures.

1943 - Joined the Army Medical Corps. He was in Darwin when it was bombed. Later transferred to the 1st Australian Army Entertainment Unit he returned to Australia after falling seriously ill in Borneo..

1944 - Smoky married Dot (who’s real name was Florence Cheers) on March 13. They met at radio station 3JR in Melbourne in 1933 when Dot was performing her radio Programme. While Dot is famous for many things, the one thing she will always be recognized for is being the founder of Melbourne’s Carols by Candlelight event in 1946. It was at this inaugural event that Norman Banks of radio station 3KZ organized for Smoky to launch the night shouting “coo–ee” from horseback to a worldwide listening audience.

 1945 - Discharged from the army. Started script writing and producing his own radio show.

1946 - 1948- Busy with radio, theatre and travelling shows.

1948 - In July recorded at Homebush, Sydney, 6 tracks including "My Heart Is Where The Roper River Flows" and "Tonight".

1949 - Smoky create “The Inlander” show for ABC Radio. The show ran for three years touring Australia’s capital cities. It was during this time that Smoky got the chance to perform with the great Peter Dawson on 5CL in Adelaide.

1950 - ABC commissioned Smoky to write a series of songs and stories for a new show "Inlander". Received a draft treatment of "The Cowboy From Down Under" in the U. S. 

1951 - Went to the UK and performed at the Festival of Britain. Visited America and had his own TV show "Australiana". Roy Acuff and Wesley Rose started the Hickory Records label in Nashville USA. Smoky became the first artist to record for Hickory when he recorded “The Lord’s Last Supper”.

1951-1958- Recorded 6 records per year.

1952 - Appeared in Nashville with Ernest Tubb. Signed by the world's largest country music publisher "Acuff and Rose". Recorded song "The Last Supper" on the Hickory Label which went to number 1. Contracted to 20th Century Fox to promote Australian film "Kangaroo". Also appeared in Broadway musical "Kiss Me Kate".

In September Dot and Smoky landed back in Australia at Kingsford – Smith Airport, they were met by a large cheering crowd that included a cinesound news film crew. They were returning to Australia to start a national radio show that was sponsored by Kellogg’s and was called “The Adventures of Smoky Dawson and broadcasted through 69 stations.

1952-1962- Signed with Kellogg for "The Adventures of Smoky Dawson".

1953 - "The Adventures of Smoky Dawson" show goes to air and the song “Riding With A Smile And A Song” becomes the show’s theme song. It was also this year that Smoky forms a relationship that lasts for about three decades when he acquires a three month old palomino that becomes known to the world as “Flash”.

1957 - 1979 - In March for his 45 birthday Dot gave Smoky the keys to a block a land at Ingleside which becomes “Jindawarrabel” Smoky’s fabled radio show ranch. The Ranch becomes the home of TV Shows, an entertainment venue, riding school and holiday camp. At its first rodeo Chips Rafferty, Lance Skuthorpe and Big Chief Little wolf helped raise funds for Rotary. Raised money for charity for 20 years.

1963 - Hopalong Cassidy comic strips were replaced by Smoky Dawson comic strips in the Sydney morning Herald for five days of the week in 1963.

1973- Recorded an album for EMI "Back At The Ranch". Joins TV Station Channel 9.

1975 - In February made a film documentary for the "Far West Children's Home". Featured on "This Is Your Life" (then on channel 7).

1976 - Glenn Campbell and co star Olivia Newton-John film a TV special "Glenn Campbell Down Under" at Smoky's "Ranch".

1977- Inducted into the Hand of Fame in Tamworth.

1978 - Elevated into the Roll Of Renown, in Tamworth. Invited to Nashville to appear with "The All Time Greats" by the Country Music Association and Grand Ol' Opry and presented with "The Pioneer Honour Award".

1982 - His beloved sidekick Flash died on April 23.

1983 - Smoky received the Member of The British Empire Award (MBE) on New Years Day.

1985 - Wax replicas of Smoky and Flash are added to the Gallery of Stars in the Tamworth Wax Museum.

1987 - South Australian Country Music Festival Awards- Inducted into the Hall of Fame.

1988 – Had a guest staring role in the TV series “A Country Practice”.Smoky wins his second Gold Guitar for Best Group or Duo with Trevor Knight for "High Country".

1991 - Inaugural patron of the Australian Country Music Foundation.

1999 - Awarded Order Of Australia Medal (O.A.M.) in the Australia Day Awards. Received Rotary Club’s highest award.

2000 - Along with Dot was inducted into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Tamworth.

2001 - Made patron of the Stockman's Hall of Fame and was the first of the Galleries set up for the pioneers. Won the Rotary International Award with the song "Follow Your Dream". Recorded in English for Rotary by a choir of 18 exchange students who also recorded it in their native language for use in their home country. The song was recorded with the Howie Brothers.

2002 - Smoky and Dot were made honorary life members of the Country Music Association of Australia for their contribution to the Australian Country Music Industry.

2004 - The Australian National Interest Program presented by Peter Hughes made the episode “Smoky Dawson - Country Music Legend”. Signed with Sony Label to record poems written by Smoky.

2005 - Smoky released his album “Homestead Of My Dreams” to again create another milestone in his life as this release made him the oldest recording artist in the world. The revamped Tamworth Diggers Club that is owned by the West Tamworth Leagues Club had Smoky help launch “Smoky’s Bar and Grill” as it’s named in Smoky’s honour. Inducted into the Australian Record Industry Hall of Fame.

2006 - Held in Tamworth, Australia's Country Music Capital, during the January Festival, the inaugural ACMF dinner paid tribute to Australia's best loved country music couple, Smoky and Dot Dawson.

2007 - On his final visit to Tamworth in 2007 he was inducted into “The Galaxy of Stars Monument” during the Country Music Festival. Mo Awards- Outstanding Contribution to the Australian Country Music Industry.

2008 - Smoky passed away on 13th February.