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Johnny O'Keefe

1935 – 1978

Johnny O'Keefe (1935-1978) was Australia's first rock 'n' roll star. At a time when radio stations were reluctant to promote local talent, O'Keefe was the first Australian rock performer to have a chart hit with the 1958 song 'Wild One'. A raw, energetic and exuberant performer whose nickname 'the Wild One' reflected his antics both on and off stage, O'Keefe recorded 30 chart hits including the legendary Shout. In 1959 he compered the television show Six O'Clock Rock and later hosted The Johnny O'Keefe Show. Despite his public success, O'Keefe's personal life was tumultuous. He suffered periods of depression and his first marriage ended because of his violent outbursts; in 1960 a near-fatal car crash necessitated reconstructive surgery to his face. A pattern of dynamic performance leading to overwork, depression and breakdown led to his death from a heart attack at the age of forty-three.

Updated 2018