When the Queen’s Birthday Honours List was revealed on Monday, three country music industry figures were among those honoured.
Tamworth local Lorraine Pfitzner, Queensland singer Desree-Ilona Crawford and bush balladeer Peter Coad all received Order of Australia Medals (OAM).
Lorraine Pfitzner OAM
Growing up in Minlaton, South Australia, Mrs Pfitzner said her love of country music started listening to 78 records her father bought, including Jimmie Rodgers, The Carter Family and Tex Morton.
Then as a teenager she started contributing to a country music magazine.
“When I was about 15, I got a copy of Spurs magazine, and for some unknown reason I decided to write a letter, telling them what was going on in South Australia.”
The magazine was owned by Slim Dusty and Joy McKean.
“Joy McKean sent me a very nice letter back and asked me would I continue to do it.”
Lorraine’s writing for Spurs magazine marked the beginning of a long involvement with country music.
Since moving to Tamworth in 1973, that involvement has included singing at the CCMA shows, cleaning the plates at Hands of Fame park for many years (which saw her named custodian of the park), and helping with the inductions each January, as well as her work to see bronze busts of artists erected in Bicentennial Park.
Mrs Pfitzner said her greatest joy in country music came from the friendships formed with everyone from the best known artists through to the fans.
Peter Coad OAM
Mr Coad, who also grew up in South Australia, has been a full-time artist since 1980.
He said his career in music started when he got his first guitar.
“That first guitar was five pounds and five shillings. And we’ve still got that guitar to this very day.
“Mum and dad played music, and our grandmother, they played at the old-style dances. Music was just a way of life.”
In 1961, alongside his brother Trevor, Mr Coad went on air for the first time, playing live on 5AU in Port Augusta.
“My brother sang Little Kangaroo, the Kevin Sheagog song, and I think I sang Looking Back to See.”
“Around about the same time, my brother and I appeared on the Bob Fricker Show.”
They were soon playing live shows, including weddings, parties and shows in hotel lounges.
“Surprisingly, not so long ago, we met a chap at one of our shows, somewhere around Australia, and he came up and said ‘the last time I saw you, he said, was in the Hawker Hotel’.
“I’m looking at him, and I said ‘you’re talking 40-45 years ago’. He said ‘yes it was, we were on our honeymoon on a bus trip and the coach captain said we’ve got a deal for you tonight at the hotel when we get to Hawker’ where myself and my two brothers were playing, and this man remembered 45 years down the track,” Peter laughed.
“Dad had a mining business and we were involved with that, but we still did weekend work, whatever was around.”
The Coad Brothers recorded their first album in 1978, then around 1980 they went full-time into music and first played at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
“We booked some shows, got across to Tamworth and did well, and from 1980 that’s been our main income and lifestyle, which is nearly 40 years, full time music.”
Mr Coad was inducted into the Hands of Fame in 2007.
Desree-Ilona Crawford OAM
Growing up in Bundaberg, Desree-Ilona Crawford was just a child when she started performing. And she has now been performing for more than 50 years.
In her teenage years she became a professional entertainer, then played at venues throughout south east Queensland before moving to Melbourne.
During her time in Melbourne, Ms Crawford performed with an eight-piece show band as Desree Crawford and The High Chapparalls Country Music Group.
They worked with some of the greats, including Roy Orbison, The Platters, The Hawking Brothers, Johnny O’Keefe and supported Slim Whitman when he toured Australia.
She fondly recalled her years at the Tamworth Country Music Festival more than 20 years ago where she would stage shows with Olive Bice, which encouraged young artists, such as Adam Harvey.
She was inducted into the Hands of Fame in 1983.
Ms Crawford is currently working on her 21st album, Beautiful Memories and Beautiful Dreams, and said she was gobsmacked to receive the Order of Australia Medal.