1925 – Born
August 16, Sheffield
1930s - Athol achieved the
international record for a bargain priced guitar for 5
Other artists paid 2 pounds 30
shillings. Then again it was not a spruced-backed, maple-necked piece
of craftsmanship – it was a beat up old box!
1935 – Age 10, Athol was playing
piano at local dances. When he left school he worked on his
father’s farm and then as a farmhand on neighbouring properties.
It was the guitar, the Tex Morton and Wilf Carter music that
claimed his attention.
1947 – Age
22, his first break came when he was asked to sing on a radio
program on 7AD Devonport. The program was on Tuesday nights and
ran for three and a quarter years.
1950 – Moved to Melbourne
to expand his range of opportunities.
Won his heat of
Amateur Hour in 1950 and recorded for EMI.
1951 – Won the novelty section on the
‘prestigious’ radio show
P & A Parade.
This win brought him fairly constant
work in radio and live performances but not a great deal of
1951-1958 – He worked as a barman in
1956 – He topped the poll on Terry
Amateur Hour with over 10,000 votes.
On the strength of that success, he
Sydney for an
audition with Regal Zonophone and was accepted. The first track
he recorded Wilf Carter’s ‘Swiss Moonlight Lullaby’ and his own
composition ‘Tassie Tears’. The recordings made him the first
Tasmanian to sing from the magic grooves! Sales warranted more
1956 & 1958 – Puts down 4 additional
tracks each year.
An outcome of the recording contract
was an offer of a promotional tour of eastern states on Noel
George’s ‘Australian Wild West Show’. The show also featured
American Indian Wrestler Big Chief Little Wolf. Other tours for
Athol at this time were also with the ‘Reg Lindsay Show, Chad
Morgan and Rick and Thel Shows’.
1961 – By the
time he organised his own travelling show the best days for this
type of entertainment had passed on the mainland. They were hard
times for travelling shows. Nearly all the shows went bust.
Athol headed back to Tasmania.
1966 – Athol toured full time again.
He teamed up with his boyhood idol ‘Tex
Morton’ with a show called The Morton’s and McCoy’s
The tour started in Morven QLD,
through to the Isa, across to Alice Springs, back through the
settlements to Darwin
where they did a three-week season showing nightly, across the
down to Western Australia
and across the Nullarbor.
After the Tex shows ended, he
toured with Terry Gordon, Ray Haselar Lindsay Butler and others.
Back in Sydney he recorded
for RCA with Eileen Wood on fiddle who also toured with him and
then became Mrs Athol McCoy”.
1969 – At the
end of the year, he had a break from touring and gained a job
with the Reserve Bank in Melbourne.
1972-1973 – He
made his last tour of
1973 – Hadley Records in Tamworth acquired the rights to
most of Athol’s recorded output and issued an album of his work.
Athol and Eileen settled in Bega NSW
and had their own business.
They also worked clubs occasionally as
the ‘Real McCoy’s’ duo.
1980 – Inducted
Hands of Fame in
1996 – June 6
Athol passed away in
2005 – Inducted to the Australian
Country Music Roll of Renown.