Sunday History Photo / Person

Submitted: Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 08:43
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Jack O'Hagan (OBE) was an Australian singer-songwriter and radio personality
He was born as John Francis O'Hagan, in Fitzroy, Victoria, a suburb of Melbourne. He was the son of Pat O'Hagan, a hotelkeeper and Alice née Quinlan. He went to school at St Patrick's College and then later at Xavier College in Melbourne. His first job in the music business was at Allans Music in Melbourne - he played sheet music for potential customers. When radio was introduced to Australia, he was one of the first to broadcast for 3LO station.
Between 1916 and 1961 O'Hagan wrote over 600 songs, more than 200 of which were published. Some of O'Hagan's well-known songs are:
Along The Road To Gundagai 1922 (used as the theme to the Dad and Dave radio show) The song was first performed by Bass-Baritone singer Peter Dawson in 1924 and recorded in London before selling some 40,000 to 50,000 copies in the first three months.

Our Don Bradman 1930, Dog on the Tuckerbox 1938, Ginger Meggs 1948, God Bless Australia 1961, It was used in a film-theatre advertisement which was run during the 1960s by the then Australian petrol company, Ampol and sung to the tune of Waltzing Matilda.
In the 1940s and 1950s, O'Hagan wrote many radio commercials and campfire songs. However, the combination of the rising popularity of rock and roll and television ended his career. Despite writing songs about the town, O'Hagan first visited Gundagai in 1956 when he was guest of honour at the centenary celebrations of the town.

The popularity of O’Hagan’s ‘Down Caroline Way’ in 1921 led him to attempt something more local. Though he had already had a flop with a song called ‘Blue Mountains’, O’Hagan accepted the challenge and penned his most emphatic hit. It was originally to be called ‘Along the Road to Bundaberg’, but as that city lacked a river whose name had the requisite number of syllables, the honour went to the Victorian town of Gundagai: ‘where the blue gums are growing, and the Murrumbidgee’s flowing…
There at last is not the slightest doubt about Australia being on the melody map,’ said

The Australian Musical News in 1923. ‘Not so long ago, Allan and Co, as the biggest music publishers in Australia, used to receive about one song a year of the popular order for their consideration. Since Jack O’Hagan made his big hit with “Gundagai” his success has provided such an impetus that the same firm received an average of about six popular songs a day. Australia has a lot more potential composers than anyone used to imagine. They were lured right out of their odd corners and hiding places. Some of them from the remote bush, and in many cases they showed in spite of crudity of musical expression, that they had a distinct turn for tunefulness’.

A ‘distinct turn for tunefulness’ certainly characterised John Francis ‘Jack’ O’Hagan. The son of a publican, O’Hagan was born in Melbourne, Victoria, on 29 November 1898. Although he was taught music, he claimed that mostly he played by ear. He certainly started his musical career when he was still in his teens. His first documented effort was ‘That Hesitation Rag’, for which he provided the words to Cliff W. Hanson’s melody. It was copyrighted in 1916. The following year he had four songs published; three had music by Henri Penn, who introduced him to George Sutherland, managing director of Allan’s music house. Sutherland employed him as a ‘professional manager’ – in effect a song plugger whose job it was to get Allan’s songs heard in theatres and dance halls.
The portrait of O’Hagan by Stanley Ballard, which received an honourable mention in the 1958 Archibald Prize, has been donated by O’Hagan’s family to the Gundagai Historical Museum, where it holds pride of place in a permanent O’Hagan display.
Jack O'Hagan (OBE) passed away on 15 July 1987
Six years after O’Hagan’s death, a Melbourne amateur group staged Jack: A Musical Tribute to Jack O’Hagan and, in 1997, Melvyn Morrow and David Mitchell used O’Hagan’s vast output to create an affectionate tribute called Here Comes Showtime. Directed by Nancye Hayes, ‘Australia's Biggest Little Musical’ premiered at Sydney’s Marian Street Theatre in 1997. In The Sydney Morning Herald James Waite called it, ‘A class act... a high cholesterol slice of popular Australian entertainment.’ Frequently revived under its new title, Jack O’Hagan’s Humdingers, it celebrates the achievements of the man who proved that Australians could create and enjoy their own popular music.

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Reply By: MUZBRY- Life member(Vic) - Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 09:04

Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 09:04
Gday Doug
My dad listened to the Jack O'Hagan show on the radio when we were little kids , so a long time ago.
Great place to be Mt Blue Rag 27/12/2012

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Reply By: Member - Tony H (touring oz) - Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 10:32

Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 10:32
Great read as usual Doug .....thank you.
Gotta pull you up on one thing though.......Gundagai isn't in Victoria. lol
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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 11:01

Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 11:01
G'day Tony, damn it, I didn't see that error, I know where it is, I drove trucks through and then then the by-pass for many years , when I first began trucking Adelaide - Sydney used the old wooden bridge . Some reporters for media are total idiots. Keep an eye on the website, I just sent a stinging email to them.. EDIT...the email address is invalid
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Reply By: Ron N - Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 11:25

Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 11:25
Another interesting Sunday read - Thanks, Doug!

Here's a bit of Gundagai historical news that I never knew, either - although perhaps many of the Eastern States-based EO readers did.

On June 25th 1852, the town of Gundagai was swept away by a flash flood. Out of a town population of 250, one third were drowned. Local Aboriginals, using a repaired local boat and bark canoes, were credited with saving 40 people, and 3 of the Aboriginals were later awarded bronze medallions for their bravery - although it took until 1875 for the medallions to be awarded.

Gundagai floods

Cheers, Ron.
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Reply By: Member - Keith P (NSW) - Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 12:48

Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 12:48
A few years ago....I and a few other riders from here used to ride our bikes to Philip Island for the GP weekend, and Gundagai was the first stop for everyone to catch up and have a break
So the Truck stop on the southern side carpark was slightly packed with 20 or so bikes...but a few of us stopped in town at a coffee shop. The townsfolk welcomed us ...were friendly ...and often came out to check out the bikes. I rode a Honda 1200 Goldwing Aspencade at the time...and it was a bit of a crowd puller. We last pulled into Gundagai in June last year in our 4by and van....and was talking to a local shop owner who remembered us Wing in particular.
Top history post Doug...and sometimes history comes up for memories hey.

Cheers Keith
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Reply By: Member - Talawana - Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 17:07

Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 17:07
Another great read Doug many thanks
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