Born Edwin Haberfield in October 1925 and nicknamed "Bob" by family and friends, Shorty is the eldest of six children. His parents were engaged in mixed farming on the Nulla Nulla Creek, New South Wales, only three miles from the original Slim Dusty homestead. Shorty and Slim attended the Nulla Nulla school and were friends from the first day - a friendship that has lasted until the present.
Shorty and Slim went together to take their thirty shillings ($3) across the creek to purchase their first guitar from Jack Kyle (Clem Rogers.) Shorty was there "When the Rain Tumbled Down in July" and was the first to hear the song. He took part in the early trips in which they tried to make a start in entertaining, and a common sight at Nulla Creek was the two boys with guitar and bags catching the cream lorry down to the railway for a trip to Sydney or "Up North."
The boys busked in the streets of MacLean and Coffs Harbour, each taking his turn at passing around the hat. They were engaged to sing at the Mayfair Theatre, Kempsey for two pounds ($4) and enthusiastically plied their chosen careers in the early broadcasts of radio station 2KM Kempsey. They travelled Queensland with Hayden's Circus and Zoo and again with Dante the Magician.
All these experiences paved the way for the many successful Shorty Ranger songs to be recorded later by artists of the calibre of Slim Dusty, Buddy Williams, Reg Lindsay, Rick & Thel, The Singing Kettles, Lindsay Butler and many others.Some of the Shorty Ranger classic compositions are "Winter Winds", which made Barry Thornton famous on record as a lead guitarist, ""My Old Aussie Homestead", "Somebody's Mother", "Somewhere Up in Queensland", "Willy Willy", "Song of the Macleay", "Old Rusty Bell", "Toy Telephone" (with Ivy Waters), "The Big Banana Land", "Buggy and Pair", "Queensland Texas Rose" and "Old Kentucky Rig."
Known as "The Singing Wanderer," Shorty recorded 10 sides for the Rodeo Label in 1951-2, after coming runner up to Reg Lindsay in a mammoth talent quest in the Sydney Town Hall. (Two of these tracks remained un-released when the company folded.) Through the 1970s he recorded albums for Hadley Records, and in the 1980s formed his own record label, Wildwood Records, to continue to release and market his own material.
For some years, Shorty devoted himself to country gospel songs, sometimes co-writing with Jim Wesley, and in 1978, an album called "Heaven Country Style" was released. Perhaps Shorty's best know gospel composition so far has been "Only God Can Make a Flower."
However, the pressure continued upon Shorty to write Bush Ballads, so he once again embraced the task of creating songs in this genre. In 1968/9 Shorty wrote all of the material used by Buddy Williams on his "Big Banana Land" album, and half of the songs for Buddy's "Along the Outback Track."
Although Shorty has performed on every major C/W Show in Australia over this half century, he made the decision early on in his career to give his first priority to being a family man. This has meant that life was too full for him to go out on the road for any length of time, so he has put the major effort into being a songwriter. He and wife Ruby have four boys and twin girls.Shorty still lives with Ruby in the town of Kempsey, New South Wales, only a few miles from the place of his birth. AWARDS 1977: Inducted into the "Hands of Fame", Tamworth. 1989: Awarded Tamworth Song Writers Association Salute for his writing "Winter Winds."
2nd January 1998
Shorty Ranger passed away June 2007 in Kempsey NSW