From the Early Years

Johnny Ashcroft–Little Boy Lost–declared, at 9 years old, that when he grew up he would write songs and sing them to people

1927 Born in North Sydney on February 1.
1941 First instrument: A combination banjo, mandolin and guitar with correspondence music lessons.
1942 First guitar: Acoustic Hawaiian lap steel
1942 Wrote first factual song, Lonesome Pal.
1944 Took wool classing course at East Sydney Technical College.
1944 Performed Lonesome Pal on nationally broadcast Australia’s Amateur Hour–came second.
1946 Performed the Overlander Trail on Australia’s Amateur Hour–came first.
1946 First recording: When I Waltzed My Matilda Away, a 78rpm for radio only.
1946 First road shows: the Spastic Centre Show and Jerry Hartley and His Serenaders.
1947 First major road show: the 2000-seat Great Levante Show, the biggest ever vaudeville outfit in Australia.
1948 First overseas show: toured New Zealand with Varieties of 1948.
1948 First radio production: Roundup Time, an 8-programme series rebroadcast for three years, aired through New Zealand’s National Radio Network emanating from 2YA Wellington.
1948 Married first wife, New Zealander Shirley Williams. Three children–John, Tracey and Mark.
Circa 1953 Wrote and performed series for ABC Radio, Songs of the Homestead, produced by Kay Kinane.
1954 First commercial recordings: Six sides for Rodeo Records, recorded in Radio 2UE’s studios, Sydney.
Circa 1954 Performed in first in-house experimental pre-TV test at Frenchs Forest, Sydney.
1955 Toured the whole year with Slim Dusty's first national tour.
1955 Wrote Australia’s first trucking song, Highway 31.
1956 RSongs of the Western Traileleased very first Australian vinyl micro-groove country and western album, Songs Of The Western Trail (Philips).
1956 One of the first artists and the first country and western artist to appear on Australian television (ABC Channel 2 Sydney with Gordon Chater). Also wrote show’s theme, Crazy (Kings) Cross.
1958 First Dixieland record, Dig That Dixie, with Graeme Bell.
1958 Recorded his first R&B song Bouquet For The Bride and his first rock song Buzz, Buzz, Buzz.
1958 First hit: They’re A Weird Mob recorded in skiffle style.
1960 Wrote and recorded smash hit single, Little Boy Lost (with Nancy Eichhorn).
1960 Little Boy Lost released in most other English-speaking countries throughout the world. Covered by overseas recording artists, including Jimmy Dean (USA) and Michael Holliday (UK).
1960 First Australian 45rpm Gold Record issued for Little Boy Lost.
1961 First New Zealand Gold Record issued for Little Boy Lost.
1963 Recorded the Top 10 Changi prison-camp hit single, The Girl Behind The Bar.
1964 With family, became the first non-Indigenes to be accepted as members of Sydney’s Foundation For Aboriginal Affairs.
1964 Released One More Time Around, an album of previously released singles.
1965 Released the album Mostly Folk, featuring folk version of Little Boy Lost.
Circa 1967 Mostly Folk album re-released as Little Boy Lost. Went Gold.
1968 Released You And I Country Style with Kathleen McCormack.
1970 Worked from a pontoon in the middle of Sydney Harbour to 110 000 people gathered on the foreshores and Sydney Harbour Bridge (Bi-Centenary of Captain Cook claiming the east coast of Australia for England).
1971 Suggested, at a triple Gold Record presentation in Tamworth NSW, that Tamworth should present Country Music Awards. Adopted in 1973.
1973 Released Number One hit Playground In My Mind.
1973 Life threatening melanoma removed.
1974 Under the auspices of the Australian Festival of Performing Arts, starred with Gay Kayler in the first all-Australian country music show in the Sydney Opera House three months after it opened. When they headed up the Australian Variety Show in that same prestigious venue two months later, it established both artists as leaders in the popular arts.  
1975 Wrote first Australian female trucking song, My Home-coming Trucker's Coming Home. Recorded by Gay Kayler.
1975 First record production–My Homecoming Trucker’s Coming Home/Nobody’s Child.
1975 Wrote and recorded the Red Shield Appeal’s hit song, Holy Joe The Salvo. Thereafter the 'Sallys’ were known as the‘Salvos’.
1975 Toured Papua New Guinea with Gay Kayler–auspices Niugini Airways.
1975 Inaugural President of Tamworth Songwriters Association (TSA).
1977 Imprinted in the inaugural Australasian Country Music Hands Of Fame.
1978 Recorded the movie version of Little Boy Lost with Gay Kayler.
1978 Supported Gay Kayler on soundtrack of Little Boy Lost movie. Cameo appearance with the real Little Boy Lost, Stevens Walls.
1978 Steven, the real life Little Boy Lost, receives a kiss from Mum, Dorrie Walls. Performed at world premiere of Little Boy Lost movie, with child star Nathan Dawes. Movie received Catholic Award For Decency in Germany. Later released world-wide on DVD.
1979 Elected Inaugural Vice-President of the Professional Country Music Association of Australia (PCMAA).
1979 After two approaches by others, successfully represented PCMAA to have country music accepted as separate entity in the Australian Variety Artists Mo Awards.
1979 With Gay Kayler, wrote, researched and produced the highly successful Australiana series called The Imagine That! Australiana Show, which ran for eleven years.
1980 Recorded Beyond His Best on the sound track of Des Renford’s Logie-Award-winning Sports Documentary, Ironmen Of The Sea.
1980 Australian Variety Artistes Mo AwardsReceived the first Australian Variety Artists Mo Award for Male Country Entertainer.
1981 Queensland Country Music National Male Award presented by the Hon Bill Hayden.
1981 Married second wife, Gay Kayler.
1981 Wrote and recorded (with Gay Kayler) the David Callan At Your Club commercial–played over 31 000 times on Sydney radio stations 2GB, 2WS and 2CH.
1981 Created his disco-singing alter ego, the Baron.
1981 Released A Time For Change album on RCA.
1981 Released the Baron’s 12-inch disco single of Sixteen Tons Of Hit The Road Jack.
Circa 1981 Recorded multiple tongue-twisting sound tracks for the Castlereagh Line–the Grace Gibson big-hit radio serial broadcast Australia wide. Still being re-broadcast.
1982 Badly injured (with Gay Kayler) in major road accident.
1986 Elevated to the Australasian Country Music Roll Of Renown.
1987 Formed Heritage Productions P/L with Gay Kayler, Bettybo and Kevin Reiman–the last true theatrical company to appear on the Registered Club Circuit.
1990 Johnny Ashcroft, Gay Kayler, Bettybo & Shep DavisHeritage Productions released best-selling album, The Cross Of The Five Silver Stars.
1990 Awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
1990 Educational performances of the Imagine That! Australiana Perspectives disbanded. Previously seen by over half a million children.
1991 Heritage Productions also disbanded due to death of a key shareholder.
1995 Johnny AshcroftAppointed a Fellow of the Australian Institute of History and Arts (FAIHA).
2004 Adopted into the Gamilaraay Nation by Gamilaraay elder, Centennial Medal holder and United Nations keynote speaker, Barbara Flick, because of 'ground-breaking' presentations of Australia's First Nations people, both traditional and present day.
2021 Johnny Ashcroft died peacefully in Sydney on 19 May 2021, aged 94 years.
2022 Gay Kayler presented The Johnny Ashcroft and Gay Kayler Legacy Collection to the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame, Tamworth (Gamilaraay Country). 977 items, 79 recordings, multiple posters and 18 recorded backgrounds joined Johnny’s and Gay’s artefacts already in the Museum.
© copyright 2024, Johnny Ashcroft & Gay Kayler.