MELBOURNE, Australia — Judith Durham, an Australian folk singer who achieved fame during the 1960s as the lead singer of The Seekers, died Friday. She was 79.
Durham, whose hits with the band included “Georgy Girl,” “The Carnival is Over” and “I’ll Never Find Another You,” died in Melbourne, Universal Music Australia and Musicoast said in a statement.
“This is a sad day for Judith’s family, her fellow Seekers, the staff of Musicoast, the music industry and fans worldwide, and all of us who have been part of Judith’s life for so long,” The Seekers’ management team member Graham Simpson said in a statement.
The Seekers sold more than 50 million records, according to the BBC. Durham joined the group in 1963 and the quartet became the first Australian band to achieve major chart success in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, The Associated Press reported.
Born in the Australian state of Victoria on July 3, 1943, Durham rose to international fame after joining Athol Guy, Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley as the lead singer for The Seekers when she was 20.
Within two year, the group had six top-10 hits in the United Kingdom, including “Georgy Girl,” which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1966 for original song in the film of the same name. The song reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, Billboard reported.
She left the group to go solo in 1968 and recorded several studio albums, according to The Guardian.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called Durham “a national treasure,” the BBC reported.
“Judith Durham gave voice to a new strand of our identity and helped blaze a trail for a new generation of Aussie artists,” Albanese wrote on Twitter. “Her kindness will be missed by many, the anthems she gave to our nation will never be forgotten.”
Her Seekers bandmates said in a statement that their lives had been changed forever by losing “our treasured lifelong friend and shining star,” according to The Associated Press.
“Her struggle was intense and heroic, never complaining of her destiny and fully accepting its conclusion. Her magnificent musical legacy Keith, Bruce and I are so blessed to share,” they said.
Durham was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to music in 1995 and the Centenary Medal in 2003, according to the BBC. She was also named the Victorian of the Year in 2015.
In 1969, Durham married British pianist Ron Edgeworth, The Guardian reported. The couple survived a car crash with their tour manager in 1990; Durham sustained injuries including a fractured wrist and leg, according to the news outlet.
Durham suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2013 while touring in Australia, according to Billboard.
In her home state of Victoria, Premier Dan Andrews said Durham conquered the music world.
“With her unique voice and stage presence leading The Seekers, the band became one of Australia’s biggest chart-toppers,” Andrews said in a statement.
The Seekers reunited several times over the years to perform, the BBC reported. Their last concert together was in 2014.
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