Many people remember this song as a #1 Country hit for Hank Snow in September 1962. But the song was first recorded six months earlier by an Australian guy who called himself Lucky Starr. Not only did he record the original version of the song, he did four different versions of it for Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Here's the original Australian version I've Been Everywhere by Lucky Starr on Festival Records from 1962:
Here's the New Zealand version, also issued on Festival Records in 1962:
Here's the United Kingdom version issued on Parlophone in 1962:
Here's the United States version issued on Dot 16506 in 1962:
Lucky's Australian version was a #1 hit Down Under in March 1962. There are more than 130 cover versions and parodies of this song, including one from 1966 by the original composer called I've Had Everything that talks about all the diseases he's contracted!
I've Been Everywhere was written years before it became a hit by Australian singer-songwriter Geoff Mack, but he sat on the song for quite a while until Lucky Starr got hold of it. Geoff Mack was born Albert Geoffrey McElhinney on 20 December 1922 in Surrey Hills, Victoria, Australia. He started performing in 1944 while stationed in Borneo as a member of the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II. He came back to New South Wales, Australia, and began touring with the Barton's Follies tent show. He went to Japan to entertain and work as a radio announcer on WLKS Radio, the voice of the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces. In 1948 he went to England and hung around Europe for the next several years. He met an English comedian named Tabby Francis in Germany and the two were married in 1953. Together, they rode their motorcycles to Ceylon (called Sri Lanka then), then shipped the bikes to Fremantle in Western Australia to continue their trip across the Nullabour Plains to Sydney. The entire trip took about a year. So, you see, Geoff Mack and his wife really have been everywhere, man!
Lucky Starr (Center)
Lucky Starr was born Leslie Morrison on 29 December 1940. At age 17, he joined a rock and roll group called The Hepparays as their lead singer. He made regular appearances on Australian music television shows Bandstand and Six O'Clock Rock, replacing Johnny O'Keefe as the host of Six O'Clock Rock for the 1960 season.
In May 1960, 19-year old Lucky Starr was involved in a scandal after having sex with Cheryl Holdridge, then a 15-year old Mouseketeer on tour in Australia. Cheryl joined the Mickey Mouse Club in 1956 when she was just 11 years old. She went on to become a working actress on American television, working in shows like Leave It To Beaver, Bachelor Father, My Three Sons, The Adventures of Ozzie And Harriet, The Rifleman, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Dennis The Menace, The Donna Reed Show, Hawaiian Eye, Ripcord, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mr. Novak, Dr. Kildare, Wagon Train, Bewitched, and others. She died on 6 January 2009 in Santa Monica at age 64 after a battle with lung cancer.
Here's I've Been Everywhere by Hank Snow on RCA 8072 from 1962:
In 1963, Lucky Starr did a tour in the United States performing at The Flamingo in Las Vegas, The Mapes in Reno, and Harvey's in Lake Tahoe. He signed with Dot records and made five singles. The Hilton Hotel group invited him to tour the world and perform in their prestigious clubs. Paying his own travel expenses, Lucky became the first Australian performer to entertain troops in Vietnam and made a total of six trips there. In 2002-2003, Lucky toured Australia with an arena show called Long Way To The Top featuring top acts from the 1950's, 1960's, and 1970's.
From a 1965 Capitol LP called All Together Now by Rolf Harris
So if you don't see me making many posts next week you'll know why. I'll be Waltzing Matilda all over Music City USA. I'll be sure to bring back some cool stuff to share with you! Why not let MusicMaster Oldies keep you company while I'm away? If I don't make it back home, tie me kangaroo down, sport!