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Athol McCOY  2005

Athol McCoy

1925 – Born August 16, Sheffield Tasmania.

1930s – Athol achieved the international record for a bargain priced  guitar for 5 shillings.  Other artists paid 2 pounds 30 shillings. Then again it was not a spruced-backed, maple-necked  piece of craftsmanship – it was a beat up old box!

1935 – Age 10, Athol was playing piano at local dances. When he left school he worked on his father’s farm and then as a farmhand on neighbouring properties. It was the guitar, the Tex Morton and Wilf Carter music that claimed his attention.

1947 – Age 22, his first break came when he was asked to sing on a   
 radio program on 7AD Devonport. The program was on Tuesday nights and ran for three and a quarter years.

1950 – Moved to Melbourne to expand his range of opportunities.

1951 – Won the novelty section on the ‘prestigious’ radio show P & A Parade.

This win brought him fairly constant work in radio and live performances but not a great deal of progress.

1951-1958 – He worked as a barman in Connell’s Railway Hotel.

1956 – He topped the poll on Terry Dear’s Australia’s Amateur Hour with over 10,000 votes.

On the strength of that success, he went to Sydney for an audition with Regal Zonophone and was accepted. The first track he recorded Wilf Carter’s ‘ Swiss Moonlight Lullaby’ and his own composition ‘Tassie Tears’. The recordings made him the first Tasmanian to sing from the magic grooves! Sales warranted more records.

1956 & 1958 – Puts down 4 additional tracks each year.

An outcome of the recording contract was an offer of a promotional tour of eastern states on Noel George’s ‘Australian Wild West Show’. The show also featured American Indian Wrestler Big Chief Little Wolf.

Other tours for Athol at this time were also with the ‘Reg Lindsay Show, Chad Morgan and Rick and Thel Shows’.

1961 – By the time he organised his own travelling show the best days for this type of entertainment had passed on the mainland. They were hard times for travelling shows. Nearly all the shows went bust. Athol headed back to Tasmania.

1966 – Athol toured full time again.  He teamed up with his boyhood idol
     Tex Morton’ with a show called The Morton’s and McCoy’s

The tour started in Morven QLD, through to the Isa, across to Alice Springs, back through the settlements to Darwin where they did a three-week season showing nightly, across the Kimberley’s down to Western Australia and across the Nullarbor.

After the Tex shows ended, he toured with Terry Gordon, Ray Haselar Lindsay Butler and others.

Back in Sydney he recorded for RCA with Eileen Wood on fiddle who also toured with him and then became Mrs Athol McCoy”.

1969 – At the end of the year, he had a break from touring and gained a job with the Reserve Bank in Melbourne.

1972-1973 – He made his last tour of Australia.

1973 – Hadley Records in Tamworth acquired the rights to most of Athol’s recorded output and issued an album of his work.

Athol and Eileen settled in Bega NSW and had their own business.  They also worked clubs occasionally as the ‘Real McCoy’s’ duo.

1980 – Inducted into the Hands of Fame in Tamworth.

1996 – June 6 Athol passed away in Bega Hospital.

2005 – Inducted to the Australian Country Music Roll of Renown