Jim Keays, Singer with Australian Rock Legends Master's Apprentices, Dies At 67

Jim Keays, frontman of celebrated Australian rock group the Master's Apprentices, has died at the age of 67 after a long battle with cancer.

Born Sept. 9, 1946 in Glasgow, Scotland, Keays performed on a raft of domestic hits from the band’s inception as a pop group 1965 through to its split in 1972, now a fully-formed rock ‘n’ roll group.

During that stretch, the group spun the singles “Undecided", "Living in a Child's Dream", "5:10 Man", "Think About Tomorrow Today", "Turn Up Your Radio" and "Because I Love You," and they'd earned the reputation as one of the country’s best live rock bands.

Keays' group was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame back in 1998 alongside the Angels, whose frontman Doc Neeson died earlier this month. The year after Hall of Fame induction, Keays published his memoirs, “His Master's Voice: The Master's Apprentices: The Bad Boys of Sixties Rock 'n' Roll.”

The Master’s Apprentices’ debut eponymously-titled album came in at No. 35 in the 2010 publication, “The 100 Best Australian Albums”. Deniz Tek, the American-born frontman of Australian alternative rock outfit Radio Birdman, recalls listening to “The Master’s Apprentices” as a young teen. “The album was a revelation. I like the originals best, but the album was so eclectic,” he writes in “The 100 Best Australian Albums”. “They seemed to be saying, ‘Check it out. We can play anything.’”

Keays is reported to have passed away peacefully on Friday morning from pneumonia due to complications from his seven-year battle with multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer. He’d been on life support since Monday. 

In a statement issued by his friend Dianna O’Neill, Keays is said to have been putting the finishing touches to his latest album, which was due in August. He’d continued to tour in recent years as a solo artist and with Cotton Keays and Morris, alongside Darryl Cotton and Russell Morris.

Famed artist manager and industry entrepreneur Glenn Wheatley paid his respects to his former bandmate. “I had the pleasure of sharing some of the best years of my life with Jim Keays. I will always remember him as a consummate showman. Jim had an aura about him, you always knew he was in the room,” he says in a statement. “Always the Master, never the Apprentice. His presence will remain with me always. Do what you wanna do, be what you wanna be Jim. Vale my friend, you will be greatly missed”.

Keays is survived by his partner Kari, and his three children Holly, Bonnie and James.