Person - John Meredith

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A self-taught musician, Jack Meredith was the founder of the Bushwhackers whose playing in 1953 ensured the success of Reedy River. While participating in the show he lived at Clovelly, his landlord Milton Moore. He collaborated with Joan Clarke on the musical The Wild Colonial Boy about bushranger John Donahoe. For the 1982 NT play competition he submitted a work entirely different from the bush music tradition: his version of Oedipus as a ballad opera set among Greek immigrants in present-day Sydney. The hero Eddie, a foul-mouthed cocaine-sniffing guitarist in a rock band The Stars of Mykonos, takes part in the gang rape of a Greek woman who turns out to be his mother, blinds himself with a broken ouzo bottle, and throws himself off a balcony.

Meredith recorded songs and music from all over Australia. He was a founding member of the Bush Music Club (formed in 1954 to popularise Australia's folklore as a reaction to increasing Americanisation) and edited its magazine Singabout. In 1980, researching a book about the 1915 Coo-ee march from Gilgandra, he was seeking out the 50 entries to the Coo-ee song competition.

Originally from Queensland, the youngest in a rural family of seven brought up by their widowed mother, he had little formal schooling. In 1944, with no qualifications or prospects, he left the NSW town of Holbrook and "rode into the sunrise on his pushbike". He joined the CPA and eventually resigned but remained loyal to Stalin. Near the end of his life he lived near Picton. He died in March 2001.

John Meredith has a Wikipedia entry. His personal photographs and papers 1948-2001 (30 boxes) are held by the National Library of Australia. Keith McKenry's More Than a Life: John Meredith and the fight for Australian tradition was published in 2014.

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