Slim Newton

A native of Perth, Western Australia, Ralph Ernest (Slim) Newton came from a family of three boys.   He is a man steeped in the tradition of authentic Australian country music, and draws inspiration from artists of the genre of Hank Williams and Slim Dusty.

With a long standing flair for songwriting, Slim's lyrics show his great insight into both serious and comic subjects. Slim first came to the notice of Hadley Records in 1969, when he wrote to Yeldah Music (Hadley Records publishing subsidiary) with a tape of his songs.   Yeldah was so impressed with them, Slim became the first composer to be offered a ten year songwriter/publisher contract.

Slim has written well over a hundred songs, some being recorded by Rick and Thel, George Payne, Geoff Brown and others. (Remember Rick and Thel's "You Can Say That Again"?)   Early in 1971, Yeldah Music suggested to Slim that he make the move to Tamworth "to have a go" at C/W music in earnest.   Apart from his getting a little more information about Tamworth, nothing more was heard about this idea until one Friday, Eric Scott at Hadley Records received a phone call from Slim saying ... "Well, I'm ringing from the Tamworth post office.   I have the whole family with me in the caravan, and we're here!"   Slim had taken the plunge!   With his wife and four children, he had brought everything he possessed right across Australia in a tired old Standard Vanguard drawing a beaten up plywood caravan, to realise a 23 year old ambition to make records!

You need guts to make a change like that, and for Slim Newton it paid off.   His first record, "Redback on the Toilet Seat" made history, and has earned Slim three gold records.   Slim sang the song on the live "Big 'T' Jubilee" radio show (2TM, 3MA, 4CA, 7LA) with a huge and immediate response.   An instant blackout was placed on the song until the disc was released in March 1972.   Late in April "Redback" was showing the first signs of being a gigantic hit.   The E.P. broke via 2CH and 2UE and started to appear on prediction charts around Australia soon after.

Slim's personal appearances were many during June, with phones ringing constantly with offers of club work, appointments for newspaper interviews and T.V. bookings; and just to help make this a time Slim will never forget, during the hectic pace of things, his wife presented him with a daughter, Jody Gai, early in July!

In August Slim joined the Tex Morton Show, then based in Brisbane, and performed on the grand opening at Mount Gravatt before heading off to northern Queensland.

October saw Slim back in Tamworth to promote his second record "How Did the Redback Die?" in which he recorded two different versions of the demise of his creepy crawly friend.   It is not generally remembered that with practically no radio exposure at all, this record sold 17,000 copies - half way to gold record status!

During that month, "Redback" passed the 60,000 sales mark and Slim had earned his second gold record.

During early November, the "Redback" L.P. was released and added more fuel to the already brightly burning fire!   Slim was commissioned to write and record a special singing commercial based on "Redback on the Toilet Seat" for the pest control company, W.A. Flick & Co.   It was used throughout 1973 in a national radio advertising campaign.   In January, 1973, this great hit was awarded a Golden Guitar during the first Australasian Country Music Awards in Tamworth.   The trophy was for section B -"Top Selling Australasian Country Music Track for 1972." Shortly afterwards, it achieved it's third Gold Record!

The Australian Commonwealth Film Unit approached Hadley Records and Yeldah Music in March 1973 for approval to use the song as background for a film on "The Population Drift to the City" for world release.   Within the first 12 months of the release of "Redback on the Toilet Seat" there were recorded four cover versions of the song: three in Australasia and one in the USA (by a New York rock group!)   Slim's recording had also been issued in New Zealand, and Australasian sales of that original E.P. record (it was never a single!!) passed the 100,000 sales before being deleted on 8th June 1978.   The cassette still sells steadily.

An immense change of pace of life had touched the overwhelmed Slim Newton!   In less than a year's recording work, he had changed from a totally unknown part-time singer and composer of country songs to an Australasian recording celebrity whose name will always be remembered as the creator of one of Australia's greatest run-away country hits.

These days Slim lives a much quieter lifestyle with only short stints on the entertainment road.   Yeldah music still negotiates "the Redback" with book publishing companies, with publications ranging from the usual hard-bound and soft paperback productions to a plastic version for use in the shower and bath!   Oh, and if you have a pianola - then you'll find two versions on piano rolls through Mastertouch.

2nd January, 1998