Vale – Ross Kettle 24.4.1943 - 12.9.2007

Country music singer-songwriter Ross Kettle, part of the highly acclaimed Singing Kettles, died peacefully at his home in outer Sydney on Wednesday, September 12, shortly before 6pm, surrounded by his loving family.

Born April 24, 1943, in Launceston, Tasmania, Ross, for many years, had bravely battled several different forms of cancer. His initial diagnosis of nose cancer in 1981 was just the start of his long struggle with health problems, but he didn’t let it stop him doing what he loved best  performing and writing songs.

Although he enjoyed a successful solo career, Ross was possibly best known for his role in the band of brothers the Singing Kettles.

Ross’s older brother, Bill, became interested in country music at age 12, and took some guitar lessons from an uncle, with young Ross watching his every move. Naturally gifted with a unique sibling harmony, Bill and Ross won the 7LA Launceston Talent Quest in 1952, where announcer Clive Windmill made a tape recording of their song, and played it each afternoon on air. Later Bill and Ross met Eric Scott, who became owner-operator of Hadley Records, later to be based in Tamworth. Eric suggested The Singing Kettles consider recording. 

Hadley’s first output was a Singing Kettles single, “Judy I Miss Holding You”, released December 1, 1961. Another single followed and in 1963 younger brother Max joined the team and they released their first EP. This outing featured “White Silver Sands”, which gained quite a deal of airplay across Australia’s eastern states. 

Ross Kettle with his Roll of Renown plaque - Tamworth 2005The Kettles’ first album release for Hadley was Country Harmony, and nine Hadley albums were to follow, together with single releases such as Toy Telephone and a version of Johnny Ashcroft’s big hit, “Little Boy Lost”. The Kettles based themselves in Tamworth and continued recording and performing throughout the region and the state. Then in 1969 the brothers were part of an all-Tasmanian contingent to tour Vietnam, presenting 25 shows in 18 days. Little did Ross know at that time just how much this short tour of duty would mean to him later in life. 

Tragedy struck the trio in 1971 when Max suffered a fatal asthma attack on January 22. He was just 21 years old. Soon after this, Bill and Ross left Tamworth and moved to Sydney, where they continued their act as the original duo. The Kettles toured extensively on package shows and with their own travelling country showcase and in 1978 they were inducted into the Hands of Fame in Tamworth. The brothers’ act disbanded in 1988, with Ross turning his talents to a solo career and Bill and his fiancée Kathy Thompson, working as a duo. Ross was much sought after on the Sydney club and pub scene, and stayed in remission from cancer until December 2002, Ross at the Roll of Renown Rocks in Tamworthwhen it returned to make another assault, attacking his left ear and jaw. 

In 2005, the Singing Kettles had an emotional return to Tamworth, where they were awarded Australian country music’s highest accolade, with their elevation to the Roll of Renown. 

A few months after that highlight, Ross’s health took a downward spiral. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs came to the fore, assisting Ross and wife Marlene with special accommodation to suit Ross’s medical needs and also medical equipment to make his palliative care more comfortable. Ross is survived by his loving wife Marlene, and their children Faron, Deanna and Nellette. He was a treasured grandfather of Michael and Madison and a brother to Bill, Tony and the late Max.


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