Alan Dargin, regarded as one of the lead exponents of the didgeridoo, died Feb. 24, from a cerebral haemorrhage following a stroke. He was 40.

The indigenous player is best remembered for a series of albums and live performances in which he blended the didgeridoo with rock sounds and traditional Celtic instruments. "In light of the recent unearthing of an old Irish brass instrument that can be played like a didgeridoo, I find the didgeridoo quite interesting and musically compatible with the Celtic harp, penny-whistle and the bodhran," he once observed.

This approach was utilised on the albums as "Two Stories In One" (1994) and "Cross + Hatch" (1998) made with guitarist Michael Atherton.

Dargin duetted onstage and on record with a disparate array of musicians such as rock legends Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Australian jazz players Don Burrows and James Morrison, local guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, rock-soul singer Jimmy Barnes, and the Vienna Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestras.

His last recording, "MRD", due for release in April, features collaborations with Emmanuel and Morrison, and duets featuring the guitar, Caribbean steel drums, keyboard, Chinese flute, trumpet, electric bass, and voice.

Fellow performer Charlie McMahon, who toured with Dargin in Europe, said the Arnhem Land-born player had a distinctive sound.

"He had an original and compelling style," says the fellow didgeridoo player, who fronted the 1990s Warner Music Australia-signed band Gondwanaland. "He toured around the world, and stirred up a lot of interest in the U.S., China and Europe in Australia indigenous culture."

Dargin's grandfather, who hailed from a tribe in the Arnhem Land desert of central Australia, gave him his first didgeridoo lesson when he was five. He played an instrument, given to him by his grandfather, which was over 100 years old and made from an extinct species of eucalyptus known as the Bloodwood tree.

Dargin, who held a degree in science from the University of Toronto, also appeared in movies as "Fringe Dwellers" and "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

Print