The McKEAN Sisters 1983

The McKean Sisters


“Your Melody Cowgirls”

1930 – Joy McKean born on January 14th.

1932 – Heather McKean born on February 20th.

1934 – Joy contracts polio of the right leg.

1939 – Family moves to Yanderra (Blue Mountains) where the sister’s music begins. 

Joy learns to vamp on the piano and accomplishes the steel guitar. Later added the ukulele with the aid of the EZ Tutor and later the bass guitar and piano accordion.

Heather becomes absorbed in the ukulele and they both start learning songs from their dad’s records.

1940 – The sisters begin to make public appearances in school concerts, charity shows and fund raising for the war effort.  Joy begins to write her own material.

1941 – Joy and Heather separated for a time as Joy enters a remedial hospital in Sydney regarding the polio in her right leg.

1942 – They spend 6 weeks at their grandmother’s house where they listen to the 78’s and playing guitar. They get into full swing with their act at the Tweed.  They appear on the Dick Fairs “Australian Amateur Hour Show” and later appear on the Tivoli Theatre for the Diggers Show.

1943 – Move to Murwillumbah when their father enters into the army. They are regulars of the wartime fund raising shows around the district.

1944 – Joy 14 and Heather 12 – move to Sydney and continue with the charity concert pattern around Sydney.  They join a concert party, which visits prisons and other institutions.

1946 – Joy gains her Intermediate Certificate and leaves school. Heather is in her last year of school at this time.  They appear on promoter, Dick Sawyer talent quest which starts Joy and Heather to the first All Country Hall Shows run by Sawyer and Bill Ferrier.

1948 – Joy attends Sydney University for a time but abandons her studies to concentrate on music.

1949 – The girls worked in the Record Bar at Albert Radio, Parramatta. Joy and Heather get their own Radio Show on 2KY and runs for 7 years.

1950 – Tim McNamara asks Joy and Heather to do back up vocals on his recording “Follow the Hill Billy’s Down the Main Street”.  It is their first time in a studio. Joy meets Slim.

1951 – Joy and Heather pass up an audition with EMI when Tim McNamara persuades them to try for Rodeo   Records.  They are accepted. 

They record 18 sides of cover versions from popular American hit songs plus their own material.

They never recorded together again after that although they each had produced solo albums.

They did a two week tour west of NSW with Shorty Ranger, Gordon Parsons and Tim McNamara.

Heather meets Reg Lindsay.

1952’s - The McKean Sisters are billed among the top stars along with Slim, Reg, Teg Quigg and Tim and Daphne McNamara. Anne is born on July 4.

1953 – Joy and Slim leave for their historic first tour. Commitments of each sister ensure they are never in the same town at the same time.

1954 – Heather and Reg marry.

1956 – Joy and Heather both leave their radio show at 2 KY because of the other commitments they have with their music and tours.

1973 – Heather is asked to represent Australia in the International Show in Nashville Tennessee.  She is the first woman to achieve this distinction. Joy receives the first issued Golden Guitar for APRA Song of the Year with “Lights on the Hill”.

1975 – Joy wins Golden Guitar for APRA Song of the Year with “Biggest Disappointment”.

1976 – Heather wins Best Female Vocal at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.  With “I Can Feel Love”.

1977 – Joy and Heather inducted into the Hands of Fame in Tamworth.

1978 – Joy wins Golden Guitar for APRA Song of the Year with “Indian Pacific”.

1979 - Joy wins Golden Guitar for APRA Song of the Year with “Beat of the Government Stroke” co-written with Tom Oliver.

1983 – Joy and Heather inducted into the Roll of Renown in Tamworth. South Australian Country Music Festival Awards - Hall of Fame induction- McKean Sisters.

1991 - Joy awarded the Order of Australia medal for service to the entertainment industry.

2002 – Inducted into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

2010 – Heather receives the TSA Tex Morton Award.

2013 - Heather awarded the Order of Australia Medal in June.