In December of 2020, Rolling Stone Australia released a special edition issue which looks at the 50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time, paying tribute to the best and most impactful artists in Australian music history. While it would have been easy for the editors and writers of the publication to profess their love of the listed artists, the decision was instead made for those who found themselves inspired by these world-renowned names to share their own testimonials of why these artists deserve to make the list.
In celebration of the issue’s release in December, we’re counting down the full 50 artists and their accompanying testimonials in this ongoing online feature. If you want to get your hands on an physical copy of the magazine, be sure to subscribe now to experience the double-length edition featuring some of Australia’s best and brightest discussing the finest names in local music.
50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time – #20: Olivia Newton-John (by Daryl Braithwaite)
The year is 1961 and we are having our class photo taken for Christ Church Grammar School in Melbourne, Victoria.
I am the first boy in the third-from-the-bottom row on the left-hand side. The fourth girl along the same row is Olivia, next to Jonathan. We actually were boy/girl friends for a very short period of time.
In 1963 my family moved to Sydney and contact was lost with Olivia and all my school friends.
It wasn’t till the late Sixties that I heard that Olivia was a singer, which surprised me as I had never heard her sing at Christ Church Grammar School.
It was 1971 when Olivia had success with “If Not For You”, and it was then that I realised that she was a great singer and that she was the girl in my class at school.
“…it was then that I realised that she was a great singer and that she was the girl in my class at school.”
It’s funny, or fortuitous, how things work out, and in 1978 I went to Los Angeles with Roger Davies who managed Sherbet and lo and behold he ended up managing Olivia. How cool is that?
I remember “Physical” and then there was the movie Grease, and so many great songs after that.
Dame Olivia has had incredible success over the years and besides her many recording achievements and awards that she has won, including four Grammy Awards, she turned her attention to helping people.
She was such an inspiration to so many people after she won her battle with breast cancer and further health issues after that.
I feel that she has left (so far) a legacy of undeniably great songs and so many achievements in the entertainment world, but I think that what she has created with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation and her dream to help find kinder cures for cancer has left a legacy that will endear her to all of us forever.