Australian Country Music Legend Joy McKean Dies Aged 93 -
Joy McKean photo by John Elliott supplied by EMI Records

Joy McKean photo by John Elliott supplied by EMI Records

Australian Country Music Legend Joy McKean Dies Aged 93

by Paul Cashmere on May 26, 2023

in News

Australian country music legend Joy McKean has passed away at age 93.

Joy was the lifelong partner of Slim Dusty (David Kirkpatrick). The couple married in 1951 and were together until Slim died in 2003.

EMI Records have released the following statement:

With heavy and sad hearts we advise the passing of Joy McKean OAM. Joy passed away peacefully last night with family by her side after a long battle with cancer. She will be remembered as a pioneer in Australian music.

Joy McKean was a multi-award winning songwriter and musician who wrote many of her husband Slim Dusty’s most famous songs and won the first Golden Guitar awarded at the Tamworth Country Music Festival for ‘Lights on the Hill’. Her musical partnership with Slim produced over 100 albums, sold over 8 million albums and earned 45 Golden Guitars. Joy was Slim’s manager, ran the business and most importantly loved and raised the family.

Joy is survived by her children Anne Kirkpatrick and David Kirkpatrick, 4 grandchildren, and 6 great grandchildren.

The family requests privacy during this difficult time.

Joy McKean was born in Singleton, New South Wales on 14 January 1930. At age 18 she was performing with her sister Heather as the McKean Sisters. Joy and Heather had a radio show in Sydney on 2KY from 1949 to 1956. The sisters began their recording career in 1951 and released the singles “Gymkhana Yodel” and “Yodel Down The Valley” on the Rodeo Label.

In 1951 Joy married David Kirkpatrick but kept continued to perform as Joy McKean. Her sister Heather married another country star Reg Lindsay in 1954. Joy also ran “the family business” and acted as Slim’s manager. Joy and Slim had two children, David and Anne Kirkpatrick. Anne has had a long career as a country singer. David became a doctor and recently retired to start his own band Two Tone Pony.

In 1991 Joy was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her services to the music industry.

The movie ‘Slim and I’ was released in 2020, telling the story of her life with Slim.

Joy McKean was awarded the Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music by APRA in 2021. She has won multiple Country Music Awards of Australia and Tamworth Songwriter Awards.

Joy wrote two of Slim’s biggest hits ‘Indian Pacific’ and ‘Lights on the Hill’.

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