The Brag Media
News March 16, 2021

Doug Parkinson passes away at 74, one of the greatest and most influential

Doug Parkinson passes away at 74, one of the greatest and most influential

Doug Parkinson, one of Australia’s greatest and influential rock-soul voices, has died aged 74.

He passed away at his home in Sydney last night (March 15).

The news was confirmed by publicist Lionel Midford: “Doug Parkinson was widely considered one of the most unusual and influential singer/songwriters in the history of contemporary music.”

All the bands Parkinson fronted, included In Focus and The Southern Star Band, featured top musicians. In an interview for his last release, Parkinson said he was “very fortunate to have wonderful players” around him, putting it down to “sometimes luck, sometimes right timing”.

The 16-song tape was recorded at Perth nightclub Gobbles in 1979 by The Doug Parkinson & The Southern Star Band, and released through the Australian Road Crew Association’s Desk Tape Series.

“Early on in the piece I realised if you surround yourself with people that you consider are better than you are, then you’ll develop as well. That’s always been my creed,” he said in February.

Douglas John Parkinson was born on October 30, 1946 in Waratah, NSW to a painter. He left school at 15 for a journalism cadetship with The Daily Telegraph before he took up singing full time.

A love for surfing almost killed him: he was hit by a surfboard and almost drowned, spending six months in a hospital recovering.

In the late ‘60s In Focus, a huge live drawcard, became a chart act with a cover of The Beatles’ ‘Dear Prudence’ which he heard on an import copy of The White Album before its Australian release.

“We started playing it at gigs, and the audience went wild for it. But the A&R guy from the record company I was with hated it (his version) and couldn’t see the potential.”

Arguing it would be a hit, Parkinson threatened to leave the label. The A&R guy agreed. Panic-stricken because he had no deal, Parkinson went around the corner to EMI Records, which welcomed him. ‘Dear Prudence’ went Top 5, as did the band’s original follow-up ‘Without You’.

He returned to the charts throughout his career, which he maintained as a juggling act.

He formed bands as Fanny Adams and The Doug Parkinson Band, cut solo albums, and did music theatre as Tommy, Ned Kelly, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Buddy Holly Story.

He consistently took on acting jobs as The Young Doctors, The Body Business, Butterfly Island and Watch the Shadows Dance.

His voice was in constant demand for jingles and heard on those for Coke, BHP, Toyota, Carlton United Breweries, Sanyo and Philips.

He also performed the Wallabies theme song for the 1995 Rugby Union World Cup.

Last month Parkinson reiterated he lived for singing and entertaining.

He recalled waking up one morning as a young singer “with an epiphany, if I can’t sing any more, that’d be the end of me. I realised all I was good for on this earth was to sing.

“I’ve always tried to improve, even now at my venerable age. When you’re singing something beautiful, it is an unearthly experience. That was my purpose for existing.”


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