YouTube Discoveries: The Seekers

Just saw that Australia’s great 1960s acoustic folk-pop group The Seekers—Judith Durham, Athol Guy, Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley–have been appointed Officers of the Order of Australia with the publication of the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

The vocal quartet was the first Oz act to top the U.K. singles chart, in 1965 with “I’ll Never Find Another You,” which was written by early ’60s Brit folk trio The Springfields’ Tom Springfield, brother of then bandmate Dusty. It reached No. 4 in the U.S. and was followed here by “A World of Our Own” and the movie theme “Georgy Girl,” which made it to No. 2 in 1967. The Seekers also gave Paul Simon his first success apart from Simon & Garfunkel when Woodley co-wrote “Red Rubber Ball” with him, the song becoming a No. 2 U.S. hit for The Cyrkle in 1966.

Durham was a wonderful “girl next door” vocalist, with a beautiful voice needing no superfluous ornamentation. She left the group and it disbanded in 1969, though Potger hastily put together the poppier New Seekers: They had a huge hit in 1971 with “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony),” a rewrite of a popular multicultural Coke commercial that was also a hit for the Hillside Singers–the studio group that sang on the commercial (which took place on a hillside setting) when the New Seekers were initially unavailable.

In 1995, the original Seekers were inducted into Australia’s ARIA Hall of Fame. Durham suffered a brain hemorrhage last year during the group’s 50th anniversary tour, but has recovered.

In honor of the new Officers of the Order of Australia, then, here’s another YouTube double-play: The Seekers’ version of “Red Rubber Ball,” and “The Olive Tree,” another song from Tom Springfield and sung solo by Durham.