OBITUARY BY DAVID DAWSON with a little help from his peers.



Country music columnists and feature writers are a dying breed here in the unlucky radio country.

Veteran journalist Feyne Weaver died at 4 am on August 4 at the John Flynn Hospital on the Gold Coast after a long battle with cancer.

Feyne's wife Joan, children and grandchildren held a bedside vigil in the final chapter in a life that began on the Weaver Riverland family farm at Loxton in South Australia.

Weaver was well known throughout Australia - especially Victoria - for being one of the few professional journalists to enjoy the luxury of writing a regular country music column in a mainstream newspaper.

Feyne's country music column appeared in the mass circulation Melbourne Sun for a decade from the seventies.

He covered the first tour by Shotgun Willie Nelson, now 75, and Leon Russell & The Newgrass Revival in 1981 and many other tours including Emmylou Harris, Flying Burrito Brothers, Bellamy Brothers, Johnny Cash, Jerry Jeff Walker, Charley Pride and many more.

Equally importantly Weaver also wrote about the diverse local artists who enjoyed exposure on 3UZ - in one of its two country music eras - and many local festivals and venues when Melbourne was the HQ of Australian country music.

This was not an easy task as country music, despite its popularity, was perceived as uncool by some of Weaver's peers and rock promoters anxious to douse the genre.

But Weaver and second wife Joan fanned the flames as country music found a home on ABC and embryonic community radio.

He wrote about mainstream artists such as Johnny Chester, Hawking Brothers, the Fisks - Gene and Donna - Stoney Creek, Chad Morgan and progressive acts diverse as Saltbush, Dead Livers, Hit & Run, P.C. Caulton & The Pick-Ups, Suzie Dickinson and Leslie Avril.

Weaver's reign coincided with the birth of Across Country Magazine - published by Christine Whyte and late Homestead drummer and altruistic historian Jazzer Smith.

This was an era when country was a staple diet of pubs, clubs and venues throughout the city, suburbs and bush.

It was also when country music columnists and feature writers were professional journalists - replete with cadetships in the bush and beyond - and not publicists.

Fellow newspaper columnist Dave Pincombe, who did his cadetship on a Broken Hill newspaper later filled the Weaver void on Sunday Press in Melbourne while singing and song writing as a creative pursuit, also died this decade.


Photo contributed by Graham Gould
Weaver grew up on the family fruit farm at Loxton in South Australia.

At 17, he gained a cadetship as a journalist at the Murray Pioneer in Renmark.

He graduated to Mildura in 1967 not long after his first marriage failed and worked at the Sunraysia Daily as a reporter.

He boarded with a Mrs Erskine and son, Alan, - a cadet at the newspaper.

Weaver's embryonic career, transient as it was to succeed in that era, took him to the Adelaide Daily News and Sunday Mail.

Feyne was on the road again when he moved to Melbourne and worked for the Herald and Sun News Pictorial.

It was during Weaver's Melbourne era his passion for listening to and writing about country music blossomed.

Melbourne was also where Feyne met and married wife Joan who joined him in his country music pursuit.

This included several years as judges for the Australian Golden Guitar Awards in Peel River city Tamworth.

In 1981, Weaver was appointed editor of the now defunct Australasian Post - another magazine with a penchant for country music.

He remained until 1984 when he and Joan moved to the U.S. to indulge their passion for country music and American history.

That year the couple published a book called Everyman's Guide to Australian English that was later repackaged for the international market as Everyman's Guide to Down Under.

The book was illustrated by then Melbourne cartoonist Jeff Hook and copies of it can still be found for sale on Ebay.


The couple's American sojourn ended in 1985 when they were offered positions at The Gold Coast Bulletin.

In 1996, Feyne became editor of Sun Community Newspapers that included the Gold Coast Sun, Hinterland Sun and Robina Sun.

In his decade long tenure as editor, he saw the combined Suns flourish and prosper. The crowning moment came in 2005 when the paper won the prestigious Pacific Area Publishers Association (PANPA) award for the best free weekly newspaper.

"That was wonderful. They don't come any higher than that," Weaver said at the time.

Feyne retired because of illhealth in early 2006.

"But that was only the start of his courageous battle against the ravages of the disease that would claim his life," Col McCleland wrote in the Gold Coast Sun after Weaver's death.

"His death leaves a huge gap in the lives of all who knew him. Our sympathy goes to Joan, their two children Scott and Shaunagh and 17-year-old triplet grandchildren Ellie, Kassie and Paul who went to live with Feyne and Joan in 2001."

Son Scott Weaver, like old Hank Jr, followed in the family tradition and works at the Townsville Bulletin.

Instead of a funeral, a celebration of life for Feyne was held in Nerang on Tuesday.
That is a true country tradition.

< Donna Fisk with Feyne Weaver
Photo courtesy of Donna Fisk

DAVID DAWSON enjoyed a friendly rivalry with Weaver as a fellow country music columnist, news, crime and feature writer since enjoying his cadetship on Launceston Examiner in 1965.

Dawson's country music columns and feature stories have appeared in The Examiner, Albury Border Mail, Herald Sun, The Age, Sydney Daily Mirror and Sun, Brisbane Courier Mail, Listener In, Australasian Post, People, Juke, Truth, Mixdown, Across Country, Beat, InPress, MAG and other magazines.

Dawson, community radio broadcaster for 20 years is now producer of Nu Country TV and occasional songwriter, and refugee to his family dairy farm on the banks of the Hopkins River near Warrnambool on the Shipwreck Coast of Victoria.

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