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Judith Durham, Australian folk icon behind Oscar-nominated song 'Georgy Girl,' dies at 79

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Judith Durham, the Australian folk-music icon who sang lead on the Oscar-nominated single "Georgy Girl" with the Seekers, has died at the age of 79.

Durham died Friday at Alfred Hospital in Melbourne as a result of complications from a long-standing chronic lung disease, according to a statement from Musicoast Pty. Ltd. and Universal Music Australia posted to the Seekers' official Facebook page.

Durham joined the Seekers in 1963, and the group soon rose to international fame with hits such as "I'll Never Find Another You" and "The Carnival Is Over." The track "Georgy Girl" was the title song for the 1966 Lynn Redgrave film of the same name.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Joel Goodman/Lnp/Shutterstock (3785643h) The Seekers - Judith Durham The Seekers in concert at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, Britain - 29 May 2014
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Joel Goodman/Lnp/Shutterstock (3785643h) The Seekers - Judith Durham The Seekers in concert at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, Britain - 29 May 2014

Joel Goodman/Lnp/Shutterstock Judith Durham

In March 1967, the Seekers claimed a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for their performance at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne, which was attended by 200,000 people — roughly one-tenth of the city's population at the time. The Seekers eventually sold 50 million records.

Durham left the group for a solo career in 1968 but returned to record with them throughout the 1990s.

"Our lives are changed forever losing our treasured lifelong friend and shining star," Keith Potger, Bruce Woodley, and Athol Guy, the surviving members of the Seekers, said in the statement, which also included a comment from Durham's sister Beverly Sheehan. "Judith's joy for life, her constant optimism, creativity, and generosity of spirit were always an inspiration to me," she said.

Tributes to Durham poured in on social media, with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese tweeting, "A national treasure and an Australian icon, Judith Durham gave voice to a new strand of our identity and helped blaze a trail for a new generation of Aussie artists. Her kindness will be missed by many. The anthems she gave to our nation will never be forgotten."

Chris Minns, the leader of the Australian NSW Labor Party, wrote that Durham was "someone who defined not just a generation, but what it meant to be an Aussie."

In 2015, Durham was named the Victorian of the Year, an honor given by Victoria, a Southeastern state in Australia. She was also awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia alongside her bandmates in 1995. The Seekers were jointly named Australian of the Year in 1967.

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