Doug Parkinson, Soulful Australian Singer, Dies at 74

Photo by Alan Gilbert Purcell/Fairfax Media via Getty Images

Doug Parkinson pictured in February 7, 1978.

Doug Parkinson, the hirsute Australian singer and bandleader whose distinctive, soulful vocals powered a string of hits in the 1960s and 1970s, died Monday (March 15) at the age of 74.

Parkinson’s publicist Lionel Midford broke the news, announcing “the legendary Australian recording artist with a powerful and soulful voice, passed away suddenly at home.” Parkinson, he continued, was widely considered one of the "most unusual and influential singer-songwriters in the history of contemporary music" in Australia.

A lifelong Sydneysider, Parkinson's first band was Strings and Things, formed with the children of famed cricketer Sid Barnes. Parkinson’s musical tastes matured and in 1967 he explored psychedelic rock with The Questions. The group would support The Who, tour nationally with Small Faces and place second in the finals of the prestigious Hoadleys Battle of the Sounds.

Before the ‘60s were finished, the singer formed a new band Doug Parkinson in Focus, whose reworking of The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” was a national smash. His new group would go one better in the Battle of the Sounds, taking top spot in 1969.

Parkinson moved to London in the early 1970s with the band Fanny Adams, but by 1972 he'd left to pursue a solo career. From the late 1980s, Parkinson had found success in musical theatre, landing key roles in stage productions from Jesus Chris Superstar (playing Judas), The Wizard of Oz (playing the Lion), Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (as The Big Bopper) and more.

Parkinson continue to work right up until his passing. Indeed, he was slated to perform this Thursday (March 18) at Thebarton Theatre in South Australia and again on Saturday in his hometown.

ARIA Hall of Fame inductee Marcia Hines led tributes to the late singer. “Sending much love to Susie, your boys and all of your family, friends and fans,” she tweeted.

Country star Troy Cassar-Daley wrote, “Man RIP Doug Parkinson you moved my soul brother thank you.” Singer and TV host David Campbell added, “Just heard the news about Doug Parkinson passing away. An enormous vocalist and a man who worked continually in his career. Another huge loss for the Australian Music Industry. Doug’s version of Dear Prudence matched the Beatles. Vale.”