WHEN John Williamson steps onto the stage at City Beach’s Quarry Amphitheatre , it will be his first WA performance as an ARIA Hall of Fame member, with the honour recently bestowed upon him.
Williamson said he was pleased to be recognised by the recording industry he had been a part of for 40 years.
“I’ve been recognised in country circles for quite a while, but ARIA is the general Australian recording industry, and there are not a whole lot of country artists in there,” he said.
“I haven’t quite worked that one out – Slim Dusty got one a few years back, and Rolf Harris – but I’m honoured, of course.”
Raised in the Mallee region of Victoria, Williamson first hit the charts in 1970 with Old Man Emu, but it was nearly 15 more years before his song Hey True Blue was used by the Australian Government for an 1986 ‘Buy Australian’ campaign.
Hey True Blue struck such a chord with Australians that the next album, Mallee Boy, went triple platinum and Williamson’s status as an Aussie cultural icon was cemented.
Williamson said there was no danger that he would ever stop being inspired by his Australian home, thanks partly to improved transport options opening up remote parts of Australia.
“I think in the 40 years I’ve been in the game, we’ve really only just discovered how wonderful this place is,” he said.
“I remember when my mum and dad went around in a Kombi van about 50 years ago, they went to the Kimberley and some Aboriginal people chased them because they had hardly seen a white bloke, and that’s how much things have changed.
“The Kimberley would have hardly been discovered tourist-wise back then, but now it’s a big thing for the grey nomads to go around with caravans on bitumen roads.
“I was on that wave of people discovering our country.”
Williamson said while he didn’t align himself to any political party, he did feel strongly about conservation issues.
“I’ve been on the other side where we’ve cleared a lot of land, and I guess because I know the country so well, I can see there is a danger we could lose some of our unique areas of bush,” he said.
“For that reason, anyone who leans that way for me is a mate of mine.”
John Williamson will perform at Quarry Amphitheatre, City Beach, on November 30 and December 1 and 2.