The amazing story of the great Smoky Dawson is celebrated in a lavish new publication honouring the legacy of Australia’s most versatile showman.
Smoky Dawson – A Life is an illustrated, 368-page coffee table book that combines Smoky’s own autobiography released 36 years ago with a deeply researched new chapter: an extensive biography that covers the period 1985 almost to the present day, modernising his legendary status and cultural imprint as a true-blue Aussie icon.
The book is packed with facts and anecdotes, insights and memories, plus a treasure trove of more than 200 historical and contemporary photographs and illustrations – some never seen before – including artworks by Smoky’s great mate, Pro Hart.
It also includes a collection of tributes from famous entertainers such as Jimmy Barnes, his friend and one-time duet partner, who says on the cover:
“Smoky never stopped entertaining us until the day he died.”
Smoky, who referred to himself as “the grandaddy of country music”, died in 2008 at the age of 94. He was a genuine 20th century superstar: a singer, recording artist, songwriter, poet, scriptwriter, actor, television performer, horseman, stuntman, knife-thrower, double-headed axe hurler, whip cracker, raconteur, rancher and revered mentor.
He was the incomparable showman, a pioneer who became Australia’s very own singing cowboy with his long-running radio serials, The Adventures of Smoky Dawson. And he rode into the hearts of a nation – including almost a million young Deputy Sheriffs in his “Wild West Club” (two of whom were Paul Keating and Jack Thompson) – on his beloved palomino, Flash “The Wonder Horse”.
In his autobiography, Smoky chronicled his rise to fame after enduring the trauma of a cruel childhood – and the love he shared for six decades with the rock of his existence, his amazing wife Dot.
Now, in this new book, his own words are enhanced by the comprehensive new chapter, The Final Round-Up, which brims with reminiscence and previously unpublished insights into Smoky’s private and professional life, and underscores the love and respect that embraced this unique trailblazer from his peers and the public alike.
The author of The Final Round-Up is Glenn T., a playwright, actor and award-winning production designer who was Smoky and Dot’s confidant and loyal companion in their later years. No other writer could hope to match the microscope Glenn has applied to the lives of this extraordinary couple.
Proceeds from book sales will go to two charities: Bear Cottage and the Smoky Dawson Foundation. Smoky and Dot were tireless ambassadors and fundraisers for Bear Cottage, the only hospice in New South Wales for children, which is affiliated with The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick. The Smoky Dawson Foundation provides grants, awards and scholarships to members of the music industry, and also assists young people generally, not just in entertainment.