4TR’S FAVOURITE AUSTRALIAN CHRISTMAS SONGS

rolf harris1

Six White Boomers (R Harris/J Brown) – Rolf Harris 1960

Six White Boomers was unique as it was an Australian Christmas song, in a genre which has been dominated for centuries by images of snow, sleighs, reindeer, pine trees, holly, mistletoe, characters from the Nutcracker Suite and vaguely hymnal creations. There was nary a eucalyptus tree, a kangaroo, or a balmy/hot Christmas Day to be seen. Rolf Harris decided to do something about this when he shared co-song-writing duties with American John Brown, when they were working together on Harris’s Perth TV show Spotlight on TVW-7, to create a uniquely Australian seasonal song.rolf harris3Six White Boomers is an Australian spin on Christmas as Santa harnesses up six white kangaroos – the boomers – instead of reindeer- the boomers are Bluey and Curly,(Australian comic strip characters) Jackaroo (an Australian stockman), Two-Up (a simple gambling game), Desert-Head (bald) and Snow (white-haired) – and their mission is to re-unite a young Joey who has been separated from his mother. The music and melody are simple in a sing-a-long-kind of way, Harris threw in a piano accordian, acoustic guitar, piano, trumpets, the voices of the little Joey (Harris himself) and Santa Claus who has an American accent, courtesy of co-composer John Brown. It was a seasonal song with a sentimental comic twist, and it charted # 12 nationally, in 2001 Harris and illustrator Bruce Whately published a picture book titled Six White Boomers

A year later Harris followed up with one of his biggest hits in the UK as Sun Arise soared to #3 there, the Brits found the didgeridoo sound both fascinating and beguiling, despite the fact that producer George Martin had used eight double basses to replicate the sound of didgeridoos, in an “Antipodean Wall of Sound.” The song was an early and popular venture into World music by Harris and his co-composer, naturalist Harry Butler, and a timely step away from the comic turns – Jake The Peg and  The Court of King Caractacus, with which he had previously been associated.rolf harris2Fifty years later Rolf Harris would be found guilty in the UK courts of sexually abusing young girls and women throughout his career and incarcerated for five years, he is now a discredited figure and has been stripped of his imperial (CBE) and national (OA) honours. In 2014 his 2008 induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame by the Seekers, was rescinded, and by 2015, one year after his conviction of child sex offence charges, Six White Boomers  was removed from all Australian child-care centres where it had been a seasonal Christmas favourite, and The Wiggles had Harris digitally removed from several of their videos in which he had appeared.

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