b. Timothy Edmund McNamara, 10 October 1922, Lucknow, near Orange, New South Wales, Australia, d. 16 April 1983, Sydney, Australia. A pioneer of Australian country music, not only by his own performances but by the help he gave fellow performers. The youngest of 11 children, he worked as a boundary rider on a sheep station when he was 12. The following year, when the family relocated to Sydney, he refused to accompany them. Instead, having quit school, he spent the next four or five years working on dairy farms. He learned to play guitar, sing and yodel the hillbilly songs that he heard on the radio by such singers as Tex Morton. In 1940, he married Daphne Ford, a top horse rider and she encouraged him to pursue a singing career. He saw service with the Air Force during World War II, some of it overseas but sang whenever the opportunity arose. Returning to civilian life in 1945, writing much of his own material, he resumed the life of an entertainer, sometimes working as a duo with his brother Tommy Mack. By 1948, he was a well-established artist and appeared in the filmInto The Straight. He sang two of his own songs, ‘Riding Along’ and ‘We’re Going To The Rodeo Today’, both of which he later recorded, with four other songs, at his first recording session in August that year. In 1949, he joined 2SM Sydney as the presenter of their country show. Here he played records, sang a few songs and interviewed any available guests. Both Slim Dusty and Gordon Parsons gained initial career boosts through their appearances on the programme. In August 1950, McNamara persuaded 2SM and Rodeo Records to sponsor a national talent show, with a recording contract as the prize to be won at the grand final in Sydney’s Town Hall. The first show attracted massive interest, eventually being won by Reg Lindsay with Shorty Ranger in second place. The process was repeated in other years and many artists achieved a breakthrough following appearances on McNamara’s show. In 1950, McNamara had joined Rodeo Records and during the 50s, he recorded around 52 sides for the label, with many being self-penned numbers. In 1952, he became more active in production and with his wife, promoted shows in many areas that featured most of the top Australian artists. He recorded six sides for Festival in 1956 but made no further recordings until the 70s, when he recorded albums for EMI Records and Picture before returning to EMI. He maintained regular appearances around the Australian country circuit and even played the Grand Ole Opry in 1959 during an American visit. In 1981, his dedicated commitment to the Australian country music scene saw him become only the sixth person elected to the Country Music Roll Of Renown (Australia’s equivalent to Nashville’s Country Music Hall Of Fame). McNamara remained active promoting shows and helping fellow artists, until he finally lost his battle against cancer and with his wife, son Tim and old friend Smoky Dawson at his bedside, died in a Sydney hospital on 16 April 1983. Not to be confused with the jazz musician of the same name.
Share this page