1940 - Norman Albert Bodkin
was born in
New South Wales.
1965 - His professional career
started in December, at a Surrey Hills hotel (The Carrington)
where he played with Kevin King's band just six months after
discovering how to play the steel guitar. It was there that he
was first noticed by Reg Lindsay and subsequently, Norm became
the featured steel player on Reg's club shows, records and
After three years on the club
circuit, Norm had had enough of the Sydney
"rat race." Pee Wee Clark took his place in Reg's band, and Norm
took the opportunity to go into temporary musical retirement. He
became heavily involved in a substitute hobby - building midget
speed cars. Inevitably, the temptation to race the cars himself
became much too strong, but he realised that his family
obligations must come first, so the cars had to go!
Norm's eyes turned towards
the dusty steel guitar lying disused in the corner. He wanted to
return to music, but the prospects of going back to the
grind of endless appearances, doing the same songs night after
night, just didn't appeal anymore. An invitation from a dance
band in the mining town of Cobar
in western New South Wales
decided his future. Norm moved to Cobar and opened a signwriting
business and started the town's first security service. The
dance band, "The Tyme Keepers" were regularly playing three
nights a week and he was settling down ...... until someone
1971 - Norm drove to
to have a look at the place that was to become "Country Music
Capital of Australia," and decided that this was the place to
be. Over the next few years, he made countless trips to
for recording sessions, and each time the attraction grew
stronger and stronger, until, finally, with his wife Pam and
three children, he arrived.
However, at that time, suitable rental accommodation was not
available, so reluctantly, Norm and the family were forced to
return to Sydney,
where he became musical director for Lonnie Lee who had just
returned to Australia
after eight years in Nashville.
From 1971 to 1992, there were
very few recordings to come out of Tamworth,
New South Wales,
that didn't have Norm Bodkin associated with them in some way or
other - either as pedal steel or Dobro player or musical
arranger - and often, both. Norm's contribution towards the
Country Music Capital" cannot be over estimated.
For a hectic twelve months he
did the rounds of the clubs with Lonnie's group, for five or six
nights a week it was back to the same old grind!
1975 - In February, moved
back to Tamworth
and for the next 17 years, Norm became totally immersed in his
music, contributing greatly to the progress of "Country Music
Capital." He worked long hours as a studio musician and as a
session musical arranger, and in addition tended to several
1975 - In December he started
the half hour radio programme "Steelin' Time" as part of the
"Hoedown" country music programme on 2TM. It was the first
Australian radio program to exclusively feature the steel
guitar, and it ran weekly until November, 1981. Norm's first
record album took its name "Fender Bender" from an original
composition he wrote especially as a theme tune for the radio
1975 - In December Norm founded
"Steel Guitar Australia," an international organisation with
members in 9 countries, and retained leadership of the
organisation until January, 1980, when pressure of the multitude
of his activities forced him to hand over to Benny Joiner in
Melbourne for four years.
1976 to 1978 - He ran his
music store "Elbo Music," which supplied customers as far away
as well as every state in
1978 to 1979 - Norm joined
Hadley Records as house arranger and musical director, but
relinquished the position to give due attention to his
signwriting business which had blossomed into an artwork and
1978 - Golden Guitar for
Instrumental of the Year with “Fender Bender”.
1979 - He was inducted into
the "Hands of Fame" in
1987 - At the International
Steel Guitar Convention in
Norm was awarded a Special International Citation for the
support of the Pedal Steel Guitar through his radio show,
"Steelin' Time," his Steel Guitar Association newsletter, and
his support of Australian steel guitarists.
1999 - Sadly, after a battle
with cancer, Norm passed away in Canberra,
on Saturday 11th September.
2014 – Elevated to the Roll of Renown.