Australia Day

26 January 2015

93 days to go

Don Spencer

Australian born Don Spencer was 20 years old and hitch-hiking through Africa when he met up with the legendary Roger Whittaker in Nairobi, Kenya. It was this chance meeting that started Don’s career as a singer/songwriter. The songs he wrote with Roger inspired Don to embark upon a career that has resulted in hundreds of recordings and over 500 published songs, and countless TV, radio and film credits. He has many gold and platinum albums and DVD’s and has written music for film, TV, Orchestra and many solo performers and groups.

Don’s career was launched in England when his smash hit recording of Fireball XL5 was the theme song for the hit TV series of the same name. Other original recordings followed and Don toured the UK for several years with the Rolling Stones, The Hollies, The Four Seasons and many other world famous artists.

Whilst continuing his singing and song writing commitments Don expanded his career into TV and Radio when he hosted his own show Gangway for seven years in England and at the same time co-hosted the top rating radio music show on the BBC called Pop-Inn. Guests were the ‘who’s who’ of show business. On TV, Don’s guests included Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Liv Ullman, Joanna Lumley and many, many other stars.

Don has made many children’s TV series for the BBC in the UK including 17 years on Playschool, which he also wrote music for, and recorded many albums. Other BBC TV shows were Hokey Cokey, Animal Fair and Playaway to name a few.   On BBC radio he was a permanent member of the cast in the long running show Let’s Face It with the fabulous Ronnie Barker.

At the same time Don was also performing in Australia, on TV, in concert and cabaret. Don hosted Playschool on ABC TV for 28 years, He is the only person who has presented Playschool in England and Australia. Don also hosted the long running ABC children’s radio show Kindergarten of the Air. He appeared in several feature films including Barry Mackenzie Holds His Own with Barry Humphries which was filmed in London. Don also acted in many TV shows including The King’s Men, Country Practice, Sons and Daughters, East of Eden and many others.

Don has written, recorded and produced many gold and platinum albums and DVD’s for children including Feathers, Fur or Fins, Don Spencer for Kids, Australian Animal Songs, Walkabout, Times Tables and has also sung and written for many award winning Playschool albums.  The ABC has just released four more Don Spencer DVD’s and another four educational CD’s including Don Spencer for Kids will be released shortly.  Don has also been receiving a wonderful response around Australia from the Don Spencer’s Baby Karaoke series.

In 2002 Don founded the Australian Children’s Music Foundation. The Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that uses the power of music to inspire and enrich the lives of Australian children and youth, particularly the disadvantaged and Indigenous. The ACMF provides free tuition and instruments and has programs in every state in Australia including Juvenile Detention centres, disadvantaged schools in cities and remote areas and Indigenous schools and communities. The ACMF also conducts the National songwriting competition that is open to every school in Australia.

Don has won many awards for recordings such as ‘Cooee’ which won Best Educational Recording in the Children’s Music Web Awards, Parents’ Choice Gold Award and the Storytelling World Award.  In 2007, Don was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his service to children’s music and television as a songwriter and performer and through the establishment of the Australian Children's Music Foundation.  In 2008, Don was awarded for Excellence in Community Support presented by Support Act Limited. In 2011 Don received the Life Education Australia Gold Harold Education Award.

In 2008 and 2009, Don appeared on ABC TV, Channel 7 and Channel 9 and on radio and in concert. He has also performed with the Sydney University Symphony Orchestra with a program of his songs conducted by George Ellis. He made a special guest appearance as Don the Postman in the popular Dorothy the Dinosaur DVD and TV series.

In addition to his artistic skills, Don represented NSW in hockey (Australian Champions), played international hockey for Kenya, was a member of the Kenya Olympic Squad, played provincial rugby Central Province (Africa), first grade cricket/squash and championship table tennis.