BY KEITH JACKSON
A GREAT INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIAN died this morning. Jimmy Little, 75, was a much loved figure in Australia and overseas, both because of his country singing and because of his unfailing gentlemanly demeanour.
I first heard Jimmy sing in my school gymnasium in 1961 at a students' social event. There were many aboriginal Australians in Nowra (NSW), but Jimmy was the first I had seen in a role that commanded such wide admiration outside the boxing ring.
In those days of overt racism - which Jimmy battled with his customary good grace - even booking him into the school to sing for the kids must have been a struggle.
I last met Jimmy about seven years ago (see picture) at an exhibition of indigenous artefacts and relics at the Australian Museum in Sydney.
We yarned about the good old / bad old days and parted saying we must catch up again.
As so often happens with good intentions in big cities, it was never realised.
Jimmy enjoyed a string of hits from 1959 onwards including Danny Boy, Royal Telephone, El Paso, Baby Blue and One Road.
He was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1999, following the success of the album Messenger.