With a career starting in the early-’50s, O’Keefe became a national identity as a performer, and later host, on one of Australia’s first rock music shows, ABC‘s Six O’Clock Rock, from 1959 to 1962.
Amidst a recording career that produced over 50 singles and 100 albums, O’Keefe survived a near-fatal car crash and several nervous breakdowns before staging a comeback in the ’70s. He was honoured in an episode of the original This Is Your Life in 1975, and made a guest appearance on Sounds only days before he passed away in October 1978 at the age of 43.
The life of Johnny O’Keefe was later dramatised in a TV mini-series Shout! and in more recent years his life story was also adapted to a stage spectacular. In 1988, he was posthumously inducted into the ARIA‘s Hall of Fame.
Johnny O’Keefe: The Wild One. Thursday 6 November, 9.30pm. ABC1