History of Australian artists at Eurovision that did not officially represent Australia
Think Guy Sebastian was the first Australian performer to compete at Eurovision...? Wrong!
Before Australia got to officially compete in Eurovision, (as a guest) back in 2015, many Australians, some who were born here and others who called it home at some stage had already made an impact at Eurovision. One particular Aussie-born Irish man even won Eurovision twice! Yes we are claiming Johnny Logan aka Mr. Eurovision as our own for this article.
Today we look at all the Australian artists and performers where Australia has incidentally participated and competed in Eurovision. These artists have a connection to Australia or were born here but are not any of the artists who have officially represented Australia from 2015 onwards.
The New Seekers - ‘Beg, Steal or Borrow’ (2nd place - 1972 - United Kingdom)
The New Seekers was formed after the disbanding of the Australian band The Seekers from the 1960’s. In the new band there were two Australians Peter Doyle and Marty Kristian. They scored the United Kingdom’s seventh runner-up position at Eurovision with ‘Beg, Steal or Borrow’ which was co-written by Australian Tony Cole.
Olivia Newton-John - ‘Long Live Love’ (4th place - 1974 - United Kingdom)
Before English-born Australian singer-songwriter Olivia Newton-John became world-famous in Grease and Xanadu, Newton-John represented the United Kingdom in 1974 thanks to a recommendation from her close friend Cliff Richard. Her Eurovision entry was selected through a national final show ‘A Song For Europe’ where she sung six songs over two weeks. The voting was conducted through postcards being posted through the mail. How times have changed… ‘Long Live Love' finished in 4th place behind a little known band called ABBA. The Eurovision single reached no. 11 on the Australian singles chart.
The Shadows - ‘Let Me Be The One’ (2nd place - 1975 - United Kingdom)
The Shadows have had many band members and in 1975 one of its members were Melbourne-born John Farrar. Interestingly John Farrar worked with Olivia Newton-John writing and produced some of her biggest hits including ‘You’re The One That I Want’, ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’, ‘Magic’ and produced Newton-John’s ‘I Honestly Love You’ which won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1975.
Brotherhood of Man - ‘Save Your Kisses for Me’ (1st place - 1976 - United Kingdom)
This maybe a hugeeeee stretch but we are claiming Martin Lee who was part of Brotherhood of Man. He was born in Purley, Surrey in the UK but spent five years of his childhood in Australia. Lee was the lead singer on Brotherhood of Man’s winning entry ‘Save Your Kisses for Me’. Their Eurovision single was a huge success and reached no. 1 in seven countries across Europe and reached no.5 in Australia on the Kent Music Report chart.
Johnny Logan - What’s Another Year? (1st place - 1980 - Ireland)
‘Hold Me Now’ (1st place - 1987 - Ireland)
We can truly claim Johnny Logan as our own as he was born in Frankston, Victoria back in 1954. His family returned to Ireland together with Logan when he was just 3 years old. The Aussie-born Irishman ended up winning Eurovision twice as an artist for Ireland, a feat not yet repeated, and won Eurovision again for the third time in 1992 as composer for the Irish entry ‘Why Me?’ by Linda Martin. He also was composer to Linda Martin’s 1984 Irish entry ‘Terminal 3’ which finished in runner up position. Thats why they call him ‘Mr. Eurovision’.
Gina G - 'Ooh Aah... Just a Little Bit' (8th place - 1996 - United Kingdom)
One of the better known acts in Australia, Gina G represented the UK in Oslo with 'Ooh Aah... Just a Little Bit’. She was born in Brisbane but went on to become a DJ and singer in Melbourne before heading over to the UK in 1995 to pursue her singing career. 'Ooh Aah... Just a Little Bit’ went on to finish in a slightly disappointing 8th place at the time, it would now be seen as a huge achievement. It did however give Gina G some worldwide charting success, 'Ooh Aah... Just a Little Bit' scored her a no.1 single in the UK and reached no.5 in Australia. Her single also got her a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording.
Texas Lightning - ‘No No Never’ (14th place - 2006 - Germany)
This musical quintet from Hamburg is fronted by lead singer Jane Comerford. The singer songwriter was born in Newcastle, Australia and after a holiday in Europe she ended up staying there. She joined the old fashioned and hip country group Texas Lightning in 2005. They were invited to participate in in the German National Final show along with to other competitors, Thomas Anders from Modern Talking and the 1972 Eurovision winner Vicky Leandros. Texas Lightning won with Jane’s self penned song ‘No No Never’ beating second placed Thomas Anders by nearly 150,000 votes. They managed a 14th place in the Eurovision 2006 Contest in Athens.
Genealogy - ‘Face the Shadow’ (16th place - 2015 - Armenia)
The group Genealogy who represented Armenia in 2015 consisted of six members with five from each different continent of the Armenian diaspora. In the group Mary-Jean O’Doherty who is an American-Australian operatic singer represented Oceania. She was born in Houston, Texas to an Australian father and an Armenian mother who was from Greece. Their song ‘Face the Shadow’ finished up at a respectable 16th position in a very tough year.
Anja Nissen - 'Where I Am' (20th place - 2017 - Denmark)
Anja Nissen is the winner of the third series of 'The Voice Australia’. After winning the series she released her debut album which reached no.11 on the Australian album chart. Her parents both came from Denmark and Nissen followed her Danish heritage and took part in ‘Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2016’ where she sung ‘Never Alone’ which was co-written by Danish Eurovision winner Emmelie de Forest. She came second with 36% of the vote. This didn’t stop her though as she returned the following year to win and represent Denmark with ‘Where I Am’. The huge powerful ballad surprisingly finished at 20th place in 2017, 11 spots behind Australia's Isaiah Firebrace who finished in 9th place.
In addition to these artists there have been a number of creative directors, songwriters, back up singers, dancers and more Aussies that have been involved in the Contest. It shows just how far we've come and why we have a special place in the biggest song contest in the world.