Judith Mavis Durham (Cock) was born in Essendon 2 minutes past midnight on 3 July 1943. From an early age, she took an interest in music. She began to use her musical talent by playing the piano. She suffered from asthma and later bronchiectasis.
In 1949, the Cock family moved to Hobart. Although she remembers her time in Tasmania as filled with happiness, Judith's health problems continued. She was admitted to hospital once to have her tonsils and adenoids removed. An hour later, she was sent home because of a polio epidemic. Perhaps luckily for her singing career, she never had the operation.
She continued to play the piano religiously. She often played for hours on end. In 1956, the Cock family moved back to Melbourne. She became interested in the traditional jazz scene in Melbourne. After leaving school she took a secretarial job at a hospital. Finally she plucked enough courage to sing in front of an audience. After taking the audience by storm, she was asked back and promised 4 pounds every time she sang there.
In 1962, Judith began to become aware about the sexual connotations of her surname. She wisely took up her Mother's maiden name, Durham.
By now, her name was becoming well known in the Melbourne jazz scene. It was becoming clear now that her singing career was taking off much better than her piano playing career. After completing her secretarial course, she took a new job at an advertising agency. One of the account executives there, was Athol Guy, who sang with a folk trio called The Seekers. They'd had a forth member, but he'd left the band to get married. His voice was higher pitched than the others, so it was suggested that they replace him with a female singer. He went to go see her sing and knew that she was perfect. He then introduced her to Bruce Woodley. Judith developed a huge crush on Bruce that did not go away for quite some time, but alas, it was unrequited! She was later introduced to Keith Potger and they sang together at the Treble Clef. The night went well and after that she was asked to continue singing with them each week.
In 1963, The Seekers recorded their first album, Introducing The Seekers. Not long after, Judith decided to change her name from Judy to the more dignified, Judith.
The Seekers were offered a job on a cruise ship bound for England. On 28 March 1964, they left to go to England. This was only going to be a ten-week trip. It was more of a holiday, than an opportunity to make it in England (a country that had been very snobby to early Australian artists). After ten weeks was over, they were going to return home. They had no idea what they were in for...
An earlier performance they had done on, 'In Melbourne Tonight', had been shown to London's famous Grade Organisation. Soon after they got a spot on BBC television. Later their new manager, Eddie Jarrett, offered a song to them written by Tom Springfield, brother of legendary singer, Dusty Springfield. The song, 'I'll Never Find Another You' was recorded at Abbey Road studios on 4 November. On 19 of February the next year they made history. 'I'll Never Find Another You' hit number one making it the first song by an Australian group to hit number one in England.
Suddenly The Seekers were everywhere. They began performing on some of England's highest rating television shows. For the first time ever, an Australian act was taken seriously in the U.K. They began being compared with other legends with the era such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. 'I'll Never Find Another You" reached number 4 in America. It was so popular, that The Seekers were invited to perform it on the legendary, 'Ed Sullivan Show', becoming one of the rare Australian acts to appear on it.
Despite this success, their biggest British hit was still to come. It was another Tom Springfield-penned hit called, 'The Carnival Is Over'. This became an enormous hit. In November 27 it knocked off The Rolling Stones, 'Get Off Of My Cloud' from number one spot. They had not only outsold any other British artist, they had beaten two of the very best: The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. At one stage it was selling 93,000 copies a day. It remained at number one in Britain for three weeks before being replaced by The Beatles', 'Day Tripper'/We Can Work It Out'.
1965 became 1966 and many wondered how, after creating Australian music history and becoming so popular in such short time, could The Seekers keep the momentum going? Little did they know, they had another surprise in store for them.
They recorded a song called 'Someday One Day'. It peaked at number 11 in the British charts. It was written for them by legendary singer, Paul Simon, just before he and Garfunkel exploded on the music scene.
A little know fact is that in late 1966, Maurice Gibb from The Bee Gees, another famous Australian group had approached them with a song that he thought would be perfect for them. Eddie Jarrett rejected it, so The Bee Gees sang it themselves. The song was 'Massachusetts', which became a number one hit for them.
They had one of their biggest hits when they were asked to sing the title of the new British film, starring Lynn Redgrave, 'Georgy Girl'. The song was an instant smash. They created another first when; 'Georgy Girl' hit the number one spot in the U.S.A, making them the first Australians to have a number one there. They also performed it again on, ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’. Later next year, they performed, 'Georgy Girl' in Australia at the Myer Music Bowl to a crowd of over 200,000 people. This is still the record for the highest ever attendance of a concert in the Southern hemisphere to this very day.
On 26 January 1967, The Seekers were honored with being chosen as Australians as the year. For the first time, a group was presented the award, not a sole person.
Although The Seekers were doing very well in Britain in 1968, Judith decided to leave the group. She'd been missing her jazz singing and felt that she was being limited in the way she could express herself musically in The Seekers. She continued to perform them for a further six months after telling them she was leaving as their popularity took one last upspring. They filmed a 'Farewell The Seekers' for BBC TV and after that, the carnival was really over...
25 years later in 1993, they made the announcement that fans had been waiting to her. The Seekers were reforming for a one-off tour. The tour was such a great success, that they decided to expand their itinerary. In fact their tour sold out Guns 'N Roses earlier tour of Australia. They released a live album, plus a collection of their greatest hits, including two new songs, 'Keep A Dream In Your Pocket' and 'One World Love'. They both sold extremely well, the live album was helped by the popular song, 'I Am Australian', by Bruce Woodley.
In 1997, the released their first studio album in 40 years. The brilliant, 'Future Road'. It was a wonderfully brilliant album, with such hit songs as, 'Calling Me Home' and the catchy title track. The album was a big success.
In 2002, The Seekers released another live album, 'Night Of Night's... Live!' It was the first time they'd ever released a live double c.d. It became a massive hit for The Seekers. Also late that year, they announced their final farewell tour scheduled for 2003.
The tour finally finished on 30 March. As usual their tour was a resounding success. Having put up all their songs for sale, it is almost definite that they will never perform together again. Judith is eager to continue on her solo career, having writing collaborations with artists such as, Jeff Vincent and Mark Holden. Although The Seekers may be finished their legacy will always live on as Australia's greatest-ever musical exports.