In the world of Australian country music the name Slim Dusty tops the list but there is one man following in Slim’s footsteps & ticking of major milestones along the way. That man is none other than Lee Kernaghan, who is this year celebrating 30 years of hits with the release of his album, The Very Best Of Lee Kernaghan – Three Decades Of Hits.
Speaking to City Hub just a few days after the postponement of the biggest event on Australian country music calendar, the Tamworth Country Music Festival, Lee explained that he believed it was absolutely the right decision to postpone.
“Honestly, I was actually glad because it felt like we would be flying down into a hornet’s nest by coming from Queensland,” said Lee. “We want everyone to feel comfortable, safe, and ultimately just have a really good time. So we think that by holding off until April that will allow us to have the celebration that the 50th anniversary deserves. This decision gives us the best opportunity to have the high octane, full on Tamworth that we know & love.”
As mentioned in the introduction to this article with March marking 30 years since the release of Lee’s debut album The Outback Club he is quickly closing in on Slim Dusty’s historic career of 44 years. With similar longevity to Slim it is now surprise that Lee sits right behind Slim on the list of most decorated award winners at the Golden Guitars, which is an achievement which Lee takes great pride in.
“As I’ve always said through the years, there will only ever be one king of country music & that is Slim Dusty. To simply have the opportunity to have met Slim, to have worked with him, to have recorded a duet & to win a Golden Guitar with him are probably the standout highlights of the 30 years.”
Whilst reflecting on his debut album we were shocked to learn just how low the record label’s expectations were for the album.
“ABC Music said if we could sell 3000 copies of the album then I would get an opportunity to make a second album,” revealed Lee. “The album ended up winning 3 Golden Guitars, an ARIA Award, & sold hundreds of thousands of copies, so it definitely exceeded expectations.”
Given how important The Outback Club was for his career Lee wanted to do something special to make the 30th anniversary this year. So rather. Than simply throwing together a re-release or a simple ‘best of’ he decided to actually take the time to listen every single recording he had ever made in order to compile a three disc collection of his favourite songs.
“I sat right here in my studio & listened to everything that I have ever recorded,” explained Lee. “I had a top list of songs, which was about 150 songs but I had to get it down to 60… With this collection each CD represents a decade of my career & it really takes you on a musical ride where you can see the evolution of me.”
Having made that effort we asked Lee if there were any songs which made the collection that he perhaps had expected.
“There’s a recording of the Diamantina Drover that I came across & thought wow that has to be in the collection… Sometimes the songs were simply the biggest hits & had to be there. Whereas other times it was just because I loved what we did – there’s a song called Long Night which I had to put on the record.”
Ultimately though simply because of how pivotal it was to his career Lee says Boys From The Bush will always be a “perennial favourite.”
In closing we asked Lee if there was anything he wanted to say to the fans who have supported for the past three decades.
“First of all, I don’t think of them as fans. I think of them as my family,” answered Lee before continuing. “So to my extended family, everybody who has come out to shows or bought the records over the years & been a part of this journey I love ya! I’m going to keep trying to make a few more songs & few more albums before we call it quits. Bring on Tamworth in April!”