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Smoky learnt all the old folk lore

'Mail' Adelaide Office

Years ago, a small boy was found smoking a pipe. His father stood over him until he had smoked the last shred of tobacco. The small boy didn't smoke a pipe again for years.

Time went by. One day in Melbourne the same boy, now a well-known enter- tainer, was casting round for a name to suit his new role as a singer of cowboy songs. He remembered the incident of the pipe. "That's it," he said, "Smoky Dawson." And Herbert Henry Dawson has been Smoky to his fans ever since. In Adelaide this week 37- year-old Smoky Dawson de- scribed himself as a Western singer of cowboy songs. And how did he begin? That went back a long way. He ran away from his Warrnambool

(Victoria) home, went to work on farms round Benalla. He worked for one farmer, Frank Duggan, who had been a friend of the famous Kelly brothers. Young Dawson gathered up all this folk lore—stories of ex-   citing rides, hold-ups, even of romance in those old days. It was to come in handy later when he began writing his own songs. Then at nights he went along to country barn dances with his accordion. He used to sing haunting songs like 'The Little Brown Cottage.' The country people liked them. Then he went to Melbourne to try his luck. He began by working at the Abattoirs, but didn't like it much. So he worked in a tannery. Up in the country he learned to yodel when he was calling the cows. In the city he put it to good use. He learned to play the steel guitar, got a singing group together called the 'South Sea Islanders.' They introduced some of the first Hawaiian music into Australia. At one stage the group included Peggy Brooks, who has made her name overseas as a vocal- ist. There was Alec McKellan, better known to listeners now as Al Royal. The tannery went broke in the depression. But Smoky was auditioned by an American toothpaste firm which asked if he could do cowboy songs. He said 'Yes,' and got the job. Smoky has made recordings of 60 songs. He has made many radio serials, appeared in radio programs. He says he has written about 280 songs — words and music. They all have a cowboy setting —with a dash of romance. Lots of people write to him. They ask, 'Are you married?' or 'What color are your eyes?' Said Smoky: 'They're blue, and I'm married.' His wife, Florence, is Auntie June of 3KZ, Melbourne. 'I only see her about four months of the year,' said Smoky. 'In the other eight months I'm travelling round.' He likes the varied life of the rodeo and circus with which he now travels. He likes meet- ing people, especially children. Smoky has exchanged letters with Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, cowboys of Hollywood fame. He may take a trip to

the United States later on. His records have already been played in America. Nine months ago Smoky be- gan a new knife-throwing act. Now he can split an apple placed on a person's head, ring his model with knives.   He also rides a horse—and   well. Stabled in Sydney is his own horse, Socks, the horse Chips Rafferty rode in "The Overlanders." Smoky will be touring in South Australia until Decem- ber.

DAWSON Eyes on US

   

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