Edwin Duff takes his final bow

October 14, 2012

90's Flashback


Edwin Duff and Janet Mackenzie at the 1996 South Pacific Song Contest on the Gold Coast.

Edwin Duff and Janet Mackenzie at the 1996 South Pacific Song Contest on the Gold Coast.

By Shirley Broun

Widely considered the doyen of Australia's jazz singers, the death of Edwin Duff in July, 2012 marks the end of a wonderful career in showbusiness.

Edwin Duff was aged 84 and living in a nursing home in the Sydney suburb of Vaucluse.

I first met this inspirational and smooth-voiced jazz singer at the South Pacific International Song Contest on the Queensland Gold Coast in 1996. I snapped a photograph of him with Janet Mackenzie and the two were exchanging stories of their days at the Theatre Royal in Brisbane.

Edwin was also a regular at Sydney's famous Kings Cross where his name is immortalised in stone on the footpath. During the 1960s and 70s Edwin was part of trio of singers who appeared regularly on TV shows including Graham Kennedy's Tonight in Melbourne and the Don Lane Show in Sydney. One of the them, Norm Erskine became a club regular while the other Tony Monopoly went to the UK where he found fame as the winner of the Opportunity Knocks talent quest. All three teamed up for Edwin's 60th birthday in 1988 for a concert held at Easts Leagues Club in Sydney.

Edwin Duff was cremated at a service officiated over by much-loved peers Barry Crocker and Delilah.

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  1. Dunks Says:

    Hey guy’s I just posted a great video which I found here. http://youtu.be/EkPYsjmQl1Y

    I thought this was well said by a friend of Edwin’s too….

    Edwin Duff was one of the characters of Kings Cross, Sydney. He was a master of stagecraft, sang beautifully and could pump out one-liners that brought the house down. He was openly gay long before it was safe or fashionable to be so, and he dressed to thrill. Or shock. His sharp tongue and disrespect for authority lost him a lot of friends and opportunities over the years but, like or lump him, he was a sign of life, and a brilliant one at that.
    His name is preserved in brass in the footpaths of Kings Cross, outside the Empire Hotel – when it was installed he was the only person in the history series still living – and performing. The photos from his earlier life shown here were supplied by his brother, Bill. The later shots are mine, taken mainly at El Rocco in Kings Cross. The song ‘A time for love’ used here was also recorded at El Rocco. Edwin’s band here are Dave Smith on guitar, Jim Mitchell on bass and Chris Mitchell on drums. This video was played at Edwin’s funeral on 16 July 2012.


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