When Jimmy Little launches his 30th album 'Down The Road' at the Corner Hotel in Richmond on Sunday he anxiously awaits a good tidings phone call.

News - a compatible kidney has been found for a transplant.

"I'm waiting patiently for a kidney transplant," Little, 66, told Nu Country on the eve of the launch.

"I've got to be at the ready. In the mean time I'm doing well with self dialysing 4 times a day. I know the hospital method is good for many patients but because of my work style and life style, self dialysis is better for me. I can't afford to have 3 days off in hospital. It interrupts my voice so the doctors gave me this alternative to which I have become accustomed."

Little and Slim Dusty, who has had a kidney removed because of cancer, have continued recording despite serious kidney ailments.

"The transplant waiting list is long," Little revealed, "it's almost like a lottery because my blood type is the most common and most in demand. We don't have a nation of donors like we do in other countries. It's a long list and matter of good fortune. But we're surrounded my miracles every day in life. Once it was a straight forward death sentence.
Now we can alleviate that and hang in there."


Little, grandson of a violinist and son of a harmonica playing story teller father, was the first of seven children born at Cumarengunga on the Murray near Barmah.

He left home at 15, won his radio break and wed wife Marj whom he met at 17 at a footy club dance at Alexandria Town Hall in Sydney.

Marj and daughter Frances have stood by their man who takes grandson James Henry on the road in his band.

Henry also performed in the studio on Eric Bogle tune 'A Reason For It All' to complete the fifth generation musical cycle.

And Jimmy, who arrived in Sydney in 1952 - the same year as yodeller Mary Schneider - duets with Mary's daughter Melinda on his new album.


Little and Schneider, 32, perform her song 'Reach Out.'

"Reach Out seemed a natural song for us," Little says of the song he recorded with the singer who also performs in Melbourne on September 28 and 29 with the Dixie Chicks after a Victorian regional tour including Hallam Hotel with Michael Carr and Brendon Walmsley on September 23.

"I felt like I could handle the story line and key range. We both did our parts in an hour and It just seemed the right time and place for the song, and we had a wonderful time recording it together."

Little also teamed with award winning Grafton singer-songwriter Troy Cassar-Daley on the Cassar-Daley-Don Walker album title track 'Down The Road.'

"They sent me a song for previous album 'Resonate' and Troy said 'this will suit you Jimmy, he played it on the piano," Little recalled, "we put that down in 10 minutes. He was comfortable with his part. We did two or three takes and used the first one. It was spontaneous, a great sense of humour shared by two indigenous artists. When we teamed up together for the first time we were in my element with that spiritual image, old fashioned Jimmy Little."

Although there's a brace of Australian tunes on the new album including John and Genni Kane's 'Pearls Of Wisdom' performed with Brooke, Samantha and Mollie McClymont.


Jimmy reached back for the Sonny Throckmorton-Curly Putman tune 'Smooth Sailing.'
Doris Day also cut the song but it was a version by Connie Smith - singing spouse of Mississippi born star Marty Stuart - that caught Little's ear.

"There's a country singer I like, Connie Smith," Little confided, "I bought an album of Connie singing it a couple of years ago. I like a lot of her work. I finally got my voice around it.'

When Little first left home at 15 he was prepared to chance his voice on a career and then return to the clan if it didn't work.
But after 47 years of recording and 51 of marriage the singer is making the most of every mile.

"It's great to have a partner who grew up with me in the industry," says Little, "she's my stabilising influence. We grew up together from 17 and are still on one long honeymoon. We are blessed with one daughter."

Serendipity has been a bonus for Little who performed with the late Marty Robbins in Mooroopna in 1976.


And more importantly scored major roles in the Billy Graham fifties movie 'Shadow Of The Boomerang' and much later Wim Wenders movie 'Until The End Of The World.'
Little played head stockman on a cattle station in the Graham movie - a film about culture clashes.

"There was an audition for another young man but I was in the right place at the right time,' Little revealed.

"I already had a profile, had the right features and could handle the dialogue. It has now come out on video."

Little debuted on Regal Zonophone in 1956, recorded for Columbia before signing to Festival in 1959.

But it was much later in a musical career punctuated with stage roles, that Little was chosen for Wenders movie.

"Once again I was in the right place at right time," says Little, 'I played the elder statesman of the clan. We filmed for four weeks in Alice Springs and five weeks on the Gold Coast in the Warner Bros studio."

Little performs a free show at the Last Record Store at 304 Smith St, Collingwood, on Saturday as a preview of his launch at the Corner Hotel, Swan St, Richmond, on Sunday.
Bookings Phone 94279198 - $18 cover or www.cornerhotel.com

top / back to diary