Australian country music icon and widow of Slim Dusty, Joy McKean, dies aged 93 after long battle with cancer

Australian country music legend Joy McKean has died aged 93 after a long battle with cancer.

Her recording label EMI announced the news on Friday afternoon via a post to their social media accounts.

“With heavy and sad hearts we advise the passing of Joy McKean OAM,” the statement read.

“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.”

A prolific songwriter and musician, McKean was best known as the brains behind the lyrics of some of her husband Slim Dusty’s most popular songs.

She penned songs including Lights on the Hill, The Biggest Disappointment and The Angel of Goulburn Hill for Australia’s King of Country, whom she married in 1951.

She met Slim Dusty while on a three-week tour with him, performing with her younger sister Heather as part of the McKean Sisters duo.

McKean was his wife and manager for more than 50 years and helped him achieve nationwide success with the Slim Dusty Travelling Show.

The pair’s musical partnership produced 100 albums, sold over eight million albums and earned 45 Golden Guitars.

McKean herself has won six Golden Guitars – Australia’s premier country music award – and was a celebrated fixture on the Tamworth circuit.

A sold-out concert in honour of her 90th birthday was held at the Tamworth Country Music Festival in 2020 and featured performances by Paul Kelly and Troy Cassar-Daley. She is survived by her children Anne Kirkpatrick and David Kirkpatrick, four grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

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