JOY and HEATHER
“Your Melody Cowgirls”
1930 – Joy McKean
born on January
1932 – Heather McKean
1934 – Joy contracts polio of the right
1939 – Family moves to Yanderra (Blue
Mountains) where the sister’s music begins.
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.
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.
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
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
continue with the charity concert pattern around
They join a concert party, which visits prisons and
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
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
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
in the International Show in
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
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
2013 - Heather awarded the Order of
Australia Medal in June.