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Smoky Dawson, MBE (19 March 1913 – 13 February 2008), born Herbert Henry Dawson, was an Australian country music performer. He was widely touted as Australia's first singing cowboy.

Born in Collingwood, Victoria and raised in the rural area of Warrnambool, his mother died at an early age and his father was prone to violence, resulting in him living for several years in an orphanage. Music was always his way of comforting himself, and during World War II he took his talent to comfort others, serving with the Australian Entertainment Unit.

When he returned from the war he married Florence "Dot" Cheers (in 1944), and they travelled to the United States to record and play at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. When he returned to Australia in 1952 he started in his own radio show—The Adventures of Smoky Dawson—which stayed on the air for ten years. At its peak, the show was broadcast on 69 stations across the country. Dot also had her own radio shows for children.

A long career of recording and performing followed his radio show, and he still enjoyed performing until he died. He has frequently been recognized for his contributions to music and entertainment. In 1978 he was awarded an MBE for his services to country music. In 1983 he was named on the Australian Country Music Roll of Renown. In 1988 he appeared in two episodes of the Australian Drama serial A Country Practice as a drifter who passes through Wandin Valley and proposes to town gossip, Esme Watson. His performance was so popular with viewers that he made another appearance in 1989. In 2005 he was inducted into the Australian Record Industry Association Hall of Fame. He has also been recognized in the United States, and received the Honor Award of the Grand Ole Opry. In April 2007 he donated his first electric guitar to the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame[1] Dawson was a Freemason.[2]

His recording career spanned more than six decades. His last album,[3] was released in 2005, at which point he became the oldest recording artist in the world.[4]



Smoky's Bar and Grill was opened in his name in 2005 at the West Diggers Club in Tamworth.


He died on 13 February 2008 after a short illness, a month short of his 95th birthday. He is survived by his wife, Dot.


  1. ^ "Smoky Dawson donates guitar to Hall of Fame". ABC News. 2007-04-09. Retrieved 2007-04-09.  
  2. ^ "What is Freemasonry?"
  3. ^ Homestead of My Dreams
  4. ^ "Folk legend Smoky Dawson dies"

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