Bryan Watkins

Bryan Watkins was born at Swansea, New South Wales, Australia and grew up at Wallsend, then a coal mining and dairy farming area.   It was here that his love for country music began.

At 15 years of age he ran off to sea in the merchant service.   After two years he joined the Royal Australian Navy where he stayed for seven years.   It was during his naval service that Bryan taught himself to play the guitar by listening to Wilf Carter records on a portable wind up gramophone and playing along.   On leaving the navy he tried to get into the entertainment scene, but unfortunately Rock and Roll had just arrived, making things very difficult for an enthusiastic C/W performer.   He had a little success in talent quests around this time, but eventually abandoned his performing career during the mid 1950s when he became disillusioned with the direction that Australian country and western music was taking.

He settled to a quiet family life, a good steady job and the security of his own home.   In 1974 Bryan entered a poetry competition conducted by Geoff Gregory, then a country music DJ with 2HD Newcastle.   Bryan put his entry to music and sang it as a country song.   This gained him first place and tempted Bryan to once again develop a career in country music entertainment.  With Geoff's encouragement, Bryan attempted writing seriously, which resulted in Bryan's first song "Copeland" (which appeared on his first album.)   Many more songs followed, all of which were put to air by 2HD, and Bryan gained a considerable following throughout the Hunter Valley and beyond.

Bryan's recording career started as a result of the 2HD poetry competition, because Geoff Gregory was so impressed that he contacted Eric Scott of Hadley Records.   Bryan signed with Hadley in 1976 and his first album was released on 7th February 1977.   This was followed by two more albums in 1978 and 1979.   A writer of much fine Australian bush verse and fired with the enthusiasm of success, Bryan entered some of his writings in the 1977 "Barcoo Bush Ballad Competition."

He was judged the outright winner, and also won two other "highly commended" plaques.   More honourable recognition of his work came in 1979 when he again won top honours at the Barcoo Bush Ballad Competition with his verse titled "Walk Away." Not only that, he added yet another meritorious award for a second entry.

On 30th September, 1979 a heart attack and subsequent surgery took Bryan away from country music for a year or so. During his belated musical career, Bryan quickly established himself as a true authentic writer of Australian Country Music - extremely rare in these days of pseudo-American adaptations by local performers.   Intensely concerned at maintaining the Australian heritage in song, Bryan writes and sings of real people and events, with just the right amount of humour or sorrow to suit. 

PERSONAL DETAILS Bryan and his wife Dawn have two children: Karen who is married with a family, and David (deceased.) Likes in Country Music:   Likes all genuine country music with a particular leaning towards Aussie Bush Ballads. Favourite Artists: Wilf Carter and Hank Snow from overseas and Buddy Williams and Slim Dusty on the local scene. Being a writer, Bryan has a great admiration for the late Stan Coster, Eric Watson and Keith Dixon. He also has a deep respect for the musical talents of Norm Bodkin and Lindsay Butler. Successes: In 1977 Bryan won the Barcoo Bush Ballad Award and also gained meritorious awards.   He followed this with one meritorious award in 1978. In 1979 he again won the Barcoo Bush Ballad Award and another meritorious  award. At the Australasian Country Music Awards in Tamworth, Bryan has been in the Judges finals of one category or another, every year entered. He was inducted into the Hands of Fame on 27th January 1990. Hobbies:   include electronics, wood turning, woodwork and computers. Travels: During his naval service, Bryan travelled twice to England and visited most countries except Africa.

2nd January, 1998