Bruce Woodley

Bruce Woodley

Bruce Woodley (born 25 July 1942 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), is an Australian singer, guitarist, and chief songwriter of the successful pop-folk group The Seekers, and as composer of the song "I Am Australian". Woodley attended Melbourne High school, where he is currently an esteemed Old Boy.

The Seekers

Before joining the Seekers, Bruce Woodley had a 'residency' performing at the Reata restaurant in Prahran. With Athol Guy and Keith Potger he formed a folk music trio in the early 1960s. With the arrival of vocalist Judith Durham they became The Seekers and had some success in Australia before travelling to London in 1964 and recording four international hit singles written and produced by Tom Springfield. Woodley played guitar, banjo, and mandolin, as well as being part of the four-part vocal harmony. While Durham sang the majority of lead vocals for the group, Woodley usually handled the lead vocals when a male lead was required on a song, and his voice is lead on a number of key album tracks. The Seekers disbanded in 1968.

While in London Woodley co-wrote the million-selling "Red Rubber Ball", (a #2 hit for US group The Cyrkle) with Paul Simon, just prior to the success of Simon and Garfunkel. Their collaboration also produced "I Wish You Could Be Here" and "Cloudy". The Seekers later recorded all three of these songs, and "Cloudy" also became an album track on Simon and Garfunkel's hit 1966 LP "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme" (the only song written by the duo to appear on both a Seekers album and a S&G album). However, Woodley's friendship with Simon deteriorated and Woodley later struggled to get his share of the royalties. Additionally his songwriting credit was incorrectly omitted from the release of "Parsley...".

Going solo

Bruce's first solo venture was a production company called Pennywheel, which saw him release a number of products for children, including a "Build an Alphabet" set of blocks and the 1969 EP & board book "Friday St. Fantasy". In 1969 Bruce headed off to America to sell the songs he'd been writing, and was to remain there for several years. During this period he collaborated with a number of writers including John Farrar and Australian folk singer Hans Poulsen. Their composition "Boom-Sha-La-La-Lo" became a hit for Poulsen.

In 1971 Bruce released his first album, entitled "Just Good Friends". In a reaction to the folk stereotype of the Seekers, the original album cover featured two naked models having sex. This was deemed too raunchy for Australia and the cover was replaced by a photo of Woodley. The original cover, however, was allowed in New Zealand, and this version of the album is a collectors item today. Three years later Bruce contributed to an Australian-themed album put out by Viscount cigarettes, called "The Roaring Days Vol. 1" (after a Henry Lawson poem). A second volume never eventuated. He also had a hit song called "Love me tonight baby" The album featured Bruce performing the traditional folk song "Eumerella Shore" and some of his own compositions, including "The Bush Girl", which he would later re-record for a double album in 1987, with the Seekers in 1997 and 2000, and with daughter Claire Woodley in 2001.

eekers reunions

Woodley reunited with the Seekers, composed of fellow original members Athol Guy and Keith Potger, and 23 year old Dutch-born Louisa Wisseling (a semi-professional folk singer formerly with Melbourne band The Settlers). In a February 1975 newspaper article about the group's reunion, Louisa revealed that Bruce had approached her at a 1974 Settlers concert at Ferntree Gully's Swagman Restaurant with an offer to join the group, and she originally turned him down. The new group recorded two albums and a number of singles, some of which, like "The Nimble Song" and "I Saw It All With Trans Tours" (both written by Woodley) reflected the boys' other careers in advertising. Woodley's composition "The Sparrow Song" became the group's biggest hit and remains to this day the highest-charting Seekers single written by a member of the group. Other tracks he contributed to this line-up included "Giving and Takin'" (the title track of their second album), "Can We Learn to Get Along" (which began life as a solo recording for the TV documentary series "Shell's Australia", and was released by Bruce on flexi-disc), "Reunion", "Country Ros", "Standing on Shaky Ground" (featuring Bruce on vocals which he felt were too low for him, but were impossible for Louisa to sing for the same reason), and "The Rose and the Briar".

In 1977 Bruce left the group and was replaced by Buddy England. He continued to focus on song-writing and advertising, producing many TV jingles including one for Courage beer. A solo (advertising) single was called "The ANZ Bank Travelling Man", and was given out free to employees of that institution as part of the promotion.

I Am Australian

1987 saw Bruce involved in the preparations for the Australian Bicentenary, and the release of an Australian-themed double album, songbook and cassette tape, featuring covers of traditional songs and some of Bruce's own compositions. The set was called "I Am Australian", after a jingle that he wrote to tie together the various threads of the project, tapping into the need he perceived for a national song in which people could take pride. One of his colleagues on the project was Dobe Newton of the Bushwackers, who helped compose the words of the title song; another was noted folk singer Rose Bygrave. The recordings also featured a children's choir including Claire Woodley.

The following year he reunited with The Seekers, this time featuring Julie Anthony as the lead vocalist, to perform "The Carnival is Over" at Expo '88 and a musical about the Seekers' journey. This line-up released an album in 1989; "Live On", the title track, was composed by Bruce, as were many of the other new tracks like "The Streets of Serenade" (which charted the story of the Seekers rather more blatantly than his '70s composition "Reunion"), "One Step Forward, Two Steps Back", "How Can a Love So Wrong Be So Right" and "Taking My Chances With You". When Julie left to have a baby (daughter Tamara), former "Young Talent Time" singer Karen Knowles joined the group. The only studio recordings by this line-up are the Bruce Woodley written songs "Fools Tonight" and "Bright Star", sold as a cassingle at concerts. "Bright Star", originally written for Julie's voice, was also performed by both the Julie- and Karen-led Seekers at Carols by Candlelight.

When original vocalist Judith Durham returned to the Seekers fold in late 1992 for the group's 25 Year Silver Jubilee, the theme song and CD-Single of the reunion was Bruce's composition "Keep A Dream in Your Pocket". A 1993 live album and DVD followed, featuring many of the group's hits and a song which would become one of their best known and most-loved, known and sung by children around the country, Woodley's "I Am Australian".

The success of "I Am Australian" was to take Bruce completely by surprise. In 1991 he performed it with Karen and the Australian Children's Choir on a televised drought appeal, featuring a new, drought themed verse which has not appeared on other recordings. "I Am Australian" has featured in all Bruce's solo tours and all Seekers tours since the reunion with Judith Durham; in 2000 the Seekers performed a condensed version at the televised Australia Day concert. Many artists have covered the song; in 1997 Judith released a version with Russell Hitchcock and Mandaway Yunupingu which entered the Australian charts. For many, it has become the unofficial anthem, and is a staple performed at many national events, by such artists as Jon Stevens, Delta Goodrem and naturally Bruce and the Seekers. At the 2001 celebrations for the Centenary of Federation Bruce performed the song with daughter Claire (now known for performing the song solo at many events herself) and co-writer Dobe Newton.

Bruce divorced in the '80s after a 14 year marriage, and he and former wife Sally have two children, Claire and a son, Dan. With Claire, a burgeoning singer-songwriter in her own right who has performed on the cabaret and conference circuit, he recorded a CD in 2001 called, once again, "I am Australian". He has since recorded an ANZAC themed version of "I am Australian", titled "The Anzac Song", and appeared on Melbourne radio advertising the release of a CD-Single several weeks before Anzac Day in 2005. Apparently due to production difficulties, it never eventuated. In 2005 Bruce was interviewed by music journalist Debbie Kruger for a new book entitled "Songwriters Speak", focusing on influential and successful Australian singer-songwriters.

Other work

Bruce's non-musical work includes public speaking through the Saxton Speakers Bureau, and he is the patron of various organisations such as the NIYPAA (National Institute of Youth Performing Arts Australia). He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the organisation TLC for Kids, and was for a time, beginning in 1997, the chairman of the Victorian branch of the Variety Club.


ongwriter and performer

*1964 The Seekers: "Myra" (Durham/Guy/Potger/Woodley)
*1965 The Seekers: "Two Summers" (Woodley)
*1965 The Seekers: "Don't Tell Me My Mind" (Woodley)
*1966 The Seekers: "Come the Day" (Woodley)
*1966 The Seekers: "Red Rubber Ball" (Woodley/Simon)
*1966 The Seekers: "I Wish You Could Be Here" (Woodley/Simon)
*1967 The Seekers: "Love is Kind, Love is Wine" (Woodley)
*1967 The Seekers: "The Sad Cloud" (Woodley/Westlake)
*1967 The Seekers: "Chase a Rainbow (Follow Your Dream)" (Woodley)
*1967 The Seekers: "Angeline is Always Friday" (Paxton/Woodley)
*1967 The Seekers: "Cloudy" (Woodley/Simon)
*1967 The Seekers: "Rattler" (Woodley)
*1969 Bruce Woodley: "Friday Street Fantasy" [EP] ("Friday Man/Little One/Little Miss Sorrow/Captain Grumblepeg")
*1969 "Friday Man/Captain Grumblepeg" [45]
*1971 "Just Good Friends" [lp]
*1971 "Friends/Rattler" [45]
*1974 "The Roaring Days Vol. 1" [lp]
*1987 "I am Australian" [box set: 2lp, book, cassette] (Woodley/Dobe Newton)
*1987 The Seekers: "The Bush Girl" (Woodley/Lawson)
*1997 The Seekers: "The Shores of Avalon" (Arrangement and original lyrics: Durham/Guy/Kovac/Potger/Woodley)
*1997 The Seekers: "Amazing" (Woodley/Cristian)
*1997 The Seekers "Gotta Love Someone" (Woodley/Cristian)
* [ND] Bruce Woodley: "Can We Learn to Get Along" [45]
* [ND] "The ANZ Bank Travelling Man" [promo 45]
* [ND] "The Colours of Your Days" [45]

ongwriter only

*1966 Simon and Garfunkel: "Cloudy", (Woodley/Simon) on the album "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme" US #4 album (Woodley co-writing credit omitted)
*1967 The Cyrkle: "Red Rubber Ball" (Woodley/Simon) US #2
*1967 The Cyrkle: "I Wish You Could Be Here" (Woodley/Simon) US #70
*Hans Poulsen: "Boom Sha La La Lo" (Poulsen/Woodley)



*Kruger, Debbie; " Songwriters Speak", Limelight Press, Australia, August 2005.
*Simpson, Graham; "Colours of my life : the Judith Durham Story", Random House, Australia, 1994, 1998, 2005.
*Woodley, Bruce; "Friday Street Fantasy and Other Stories", Paul Hamlyn & Pennywheel, Australia, 1969.
*Woodley, Bruce; "'I am Australian Songbook", Australia: np., 1987.


*"The Weekend Australian", The Australian magazine, 11-12 April 1992. p. 32-35 and cover. - Bruce's involvement with IAA (I am Australian) Foundation
*"The Age", Property, 14 August 1982. - Interview with Sally Woodley about sale of Brighton residence

External links

* [ Bruce Woodley] at the Saxton Speaker Bureau website
* [ Bruce Woodley profile]
* [ "I am Australian" lyrics with REAL AUDIO featuring Bruce Woodley and daughter Claire Woodley] at the Aussie Connection website
*imdb name|id=0940344|name=Bruce Woodley
* [ The Seekers] - Group & Solo artists - at the MILESAGO website
* [ Songwriters Speak] - Songwriters Speak Official Website

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