Phil Younger was renowned for standing his ground in wars with the country music establishment.

But the gentle giant, who transfixed audiences with his warm stage presence, lost his last unscheduled battle at 2 am on Tuesday January 6.

The British born baritone met his maker during a short but spirited battle with cancer after starting chemotherapy treatment on Christmas Eve.

Phil's wife and soul mate Maureen was at his bedside when he passed.

Younger, just 52, was the ninth of 12 children - his daughter Sarah also survived him.

"Phil had started chemo treatment on Christmas Eve but it appears that he succumbed to the complications of the cancer and sadly passed away," fellow country singer Jan Dandridge reported.

The funeral was held on January 15.

The vibrant vocals of Younger first boomed in Australia when he followed sister Kay here she strutted her stuff with the historic Yarra Yarra Jazz Band.

Phil's three-octave voice filled the foyer of the trendy Nova Theatre, Carlton, when he played at the Victorian premiere of Johnny Cash movie Walk The Line on February 6, 2007.

Younger beat an enthusiastic posse of country artists and refried rockers in the bid to entertain movie fans - many of whom were reared here on hits and memories radio.

"The Nova gig was fantastic," Younger revealed after the launch.

"It was standing room only. The crowd was a mix of all ages getting off on country music."

It was also a culture shock for the inner suburban attendees, more accustomed to the latte pursuits of their environs.


Younger, 6ft 6 in the old currency, also headlined a recent Red Hill Country Music festival with one of his bands Country Brew.

Sadly Phil passed away in the eve of the long running festival's 21st anniversary on Sunday January 11.

This year many of his peers honoured him at the picturesque peninsula showgrounds with overseas visitors Billy Wyatt from Apache Junction, Arizona, and Travis List.

Younger, who filmed video clips to promote his colourful career, also performed at a Nu Country TV showcase at Hotel Kew to help keep the station on air on C 31.

He wrote 12 original songs for his album Concrete Jungle Cowboys album that made the English country charts and received exposure here on ABC and community radio.

His song Seven Years was played at the funeral of his mother who raised her kids in England.

"Country music to me is a passion and a love," Younger said after its release.

"Wherever we perform, we get great responses, if we didn't we would have packed up years ago. Our album is now fully licensed by an American Company, we are signed to a UK record label with distribution throughout Europe."


Younger eulogised unsung heroines - jillaroos - on his debut single Sweet Jillyroo and highway honky tonkers in Long Distance Truckie.

His music embraces rural and urban themes with the bluesy belter Rear View Mirror, Be Proud Of Who You Are and Stuck In Prison.

Among guests on his album were violinist Jen Anderson, Git singer Sarah Carroll, Ian Collard on harmonica and Ed Bates on pedal steel.

"Concrete Jungle Cowboys took a year to record, financed completely by us," says Younger.

"We are very proud of it."

Younger also followed his heart and soul in an historic battle with the Country Music Association of Australia.

The singer resigned from CMAA and claimed on his web page he was snubbed in the annual Golden Guitar awards and ignored by the Gympie Muster and Mildura country festival organisers.

It's a little liked the battle with the law in the Wild West in the 1860's with historic outlaws Jesse James and The Younger Brothers.

"I never wanted to be a rebel but someone's got to keep the bastards honest," Phil told me at the time.

"The thing is there are lots of people in the industry who feel the same way. Jimmy Barnes and Shannon Noll headlined the Gympie Muster and now Russell Crowe is going to sing at the awards night in Tamworth. I cannot understand why they keep selling country music short. There are lots of fine Australian artists who deserve to be heard and would make far better ambassadors in the promotion of country music."

Younger, like many peers, was not sold on the use of pap celebrities to market the genre to mainstream metropolitan media - especially commercial television.


So it's no surprise that Younger was thrilled to play an outlaw in the indie movie One For The Money.

Trivia buffs may note it's not the movie of the same name starring Reese Witherspoon who played June Carter Cash in Walk The Line.

"I play a criminal that takes out the main character," Phil revealed after being offered a role.

"It's very much like Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels. It's a lot of fun and should be released at the end of the year."

The physical life of Phil Younger may have ended in the early hours of January 6 but peers will walk tall in the long shadow of the Melbourne man in black.

The funeral was held on January 15.

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