Aborginal musician Little dies
SYDNEY - The Associated Press
Jimmy Little, one of Australia’s most famous Aboriginal musicians, died at 75.Jimmy Little, one of Australia’s most famous Aboriginal musicians, died yesterday after a long illness, his family said. He was 75. The iconic artist died at his home in the city of Dubbo, about 400 kilometers west of Sydney, after a long struggle with diabetes, kidney problems and a heart condition.
Little was one of the first indigenous artists to win mainstream success in Australia, playing everything from country to reggae across a nearly 60-year career. “He was a true pioneer,” said his manager, Graham “Buzz” Bidstrup, recalling the days in the late 1950s and early 1960s when Little was often forced by nightclub owners to use the back door of a venue because of his dark skin. Very often, Bidstrup said, the white musicians would stand up for Little and refuse to play until he was allowed through the front door. “All the way through his life, he was always looking for a way to unite people without preaching at them, he just did it in a beautiful, soft way,” Bidstrup said.
Little strongly supported Aboriginal education and served as a mentor for many indigenous children. The Jimmy Little Foundation works to combat high rates of kidney disease and diabetes in Aboriginal communities. Little’s family said his love for music never wavered, and that he began taking piano lessons at age 75.