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Ted Albert Award honours for Colin Hay and Colleen Ironside

Media Published Thursday 13 April 2023

APRA AMCOS has today revealed that the 2023 Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music will be bestowed upon two giants of the Australian music industry – songwriter and singer Colin Hay, and the late trailblazing tour promoter Colleen Ironside.

The multi-talented Colin Hay rose to international fame with seminal ’80s hitmakers Men At Work. While the band would reach the heights of stardom—they took home a GRAMMY Award for Best New Artist and sold more than 30 million records worldwide on the strength of #1 singles like Who Can It Be Now? and Down Under - by 1985, they’d called it quits. Over the course of the next three-and-a-half decades, Hay went on to record fifteen critically acclaimed studio albums, with Rolling Stone praising his “witty, hooky pop” tunes, and late-night hosts from David Letterman to Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel welcoming him for performances. His songs would feature in the GRAMMY-winning soundtrack for Garden State which introduced his music to a whole new generation of listeners. On top of his rigorous schedule as a solo artist, Hay could often be found touring the world playing guitar in Ringo Starr's All-Star Band. Colin Hay was recently presented with the APRA Billions Award for Down Under and completed a run of solo shows in Australia and the UK, as well as an acoustic tour of the West Coast of America.

Colin Hay said, “To receive the news that APRA wanted to bestow this most prestigious Ted Albert Award is very special indeed. This award is for outstanding services to Australian Music. I think services is the key word here. It’s important to realise at some point in your life that it is a valuable thing to be of service. To be of some use.”

Colleen Ironside, with her force-of-nature personality, set the groundwork for a Pan-Asian touring network and produced scores of tours in the region. She began her career with the Harbour Agency in Sydney, before branching out with her own booking agency APA, promoting clients such as INXS, Ratcat, Jenny Morris, Wendy Matthews, James Reyne and Def FX. In 1994 Frontier Touring hired Ironside as Head of its Asia division, where she managed tours by Pearl Jam, REM and Tom Jones among others. In 1999 she set up Live Limited and toured the Rolling Stones, Elton John, David Bowie, Sting and countless other music heavyweights. In 2005 she was Senior Vice President of bookings for Live Nation in Pan-Asia where she worked for five years before reviving Live Limited, promoting heavyweight artists Janet Jackson in Hong Kong, Bruno Mars in Malaysia and Bob Dylan in Hong Kong and Vietnam. Colleen died in 2022 in her beloved Thailand where she had lived for many years, her legacy as an acclaimed promoter intact.

“We are very proud to salute two uniquely Australian music industry figures, the late Colleen Ironside, and Colin Hay who both honed their talent and started careers at home, which sent them out into the international scene and onto huge success. Colleen championed Australian songwriters and artists and created live music pathways into Asia with a business acumen that was years ahead of her peers. Colin is a songwriter of the highest level and with the biggest heart, whose songs continue to connect and hit #1 on the charts. We look forward to honouring them with the Ted Albert Award at this year’s APRA Music Awards,” said Dean Ormston, CEO, APRA AMCOS.

Hitting the APRA Music Awards stage for the first time is Yolŋu surf rock legends and triple nominees King Stingray. Also on the line-up is Perth sensations Alter Boy, the self-described queerlectro pop band set to shake up live music representation. Vocal powerhouse Queenie, the trash queen alter-ego of Melbourne musician Eloise Thetford, joins in as does R&B/Soul nominee Becca Hatch who will perform with songwriters Lucy Blomkamp and Caleb Williams. Yolngu singer, songwriter, and storyteller Yirrmal, whose music is deeply connected to his Rirratjingu culture, will make a special appearance with a band featuring Darren Middleton (Powderfinger), Ben Hakalitz (Yothu Yindi), Dallas Frasca, Schrav, and Chris Pearson. Noongar woman and artist Bumpy will team up with Folk Bitch Trio who marry confessional songwriting and gentle instrumentation. Violinist Erkki Veltheim, guitarist Stephen Magnusson and bassist Sam Anning will bring their musical virtuosity, and dual nominee Ruel will perform hot off the release of his debut album 4TH WALL.

The Most Performed International Work has been awarded to global smash hit As It Was by Harry Styles (with co-writers Thomas Hull and Tyler Johnson). As It Was, the lead single from his third studio album Harry’s House, has been both critically acclaimed and a commercial success that has broken all kinds of records including the Guinness World Record title for the most streamed track on Spotify within 24 hours by a male artist, and the Apple Music streaming record for most first-day streams for a 2022 release.

The APRA AMCOS Licensee of the Year is the Triple M network. Comprised of 49 radio stations including six digital stations around Australia, Triple M commenced broadcasting back in 1980, firstly in Sydney before extending their presence on radio airwaves across the nation. With their mix of the greatest old and new hits, their playlist exhibits a distinct Australian flavour, supporting our local artists. Their stations always exceed their local content quota and lead the commercial radio pack in terms of their support for homegrown artists.

Dean Ormston continued, “Congratulations to Licensee of the Year, Triple M, for their unwavering support of Australian songwriters and music - both new and classic. In a very competitive media landscape, we want to honour Triple M for giving homegrown artists a prominent place on the airwaves, which is proven to be appreciated by radio listeners and music fans alike.”

The 2023 APRA Music Awards will be held on Thursday 27 April at ICC Sydney, Gadigal land with hosts Celia Pacquola, Fred Leone and Henry Wagons.

Watch Colin Hay react to the Ted Albert announcement.