15 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Australian Musicians Of All Time

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What comes to your mind when you hear the word Australia? Most people might start thinking of kangaroos, koalas, and snakes. Others associate the country with unique accents, BBQs, and Australian instruments like the Digeridoo. 

All this might be correct, but the island continent has also produced a lot of incredible musical talent. And in this post, we’re going to explore the lives and careers of 15 of the greatest and most famous Australian musicians who have made it big in the music scene.

1. Tommy Emmanuel

Up first we have Tommy Emmanuel is one of the most accomplished guitarists in the world let alone Australia.

Born in Muswellbrook, New South Wales in 1955, his skills on the acoustic guitar, unique fingerstyle techniques are astounding and have gained him fans across the globe. Additionally, his percussive effects on the guitar gained him recognition locally and internationally.

Like almost every other musician, Emmanuel started his music career early. He would play as a guitarist for different bands in Australia before making it on his own as a solo artist. He released tons of projects (singles and projects) that saw him receive tons of awards. 

Some of his most successful music projects include “April Sun in Cuba,” “Endless Road,” and “Running Free.” 

2. Kylie Minogue

Next, we have Kylie Minogue who is, without a doubt, one of the most famous Australian musicians in the world.

Born in Melbourne in 1968, she rose to fame in the late 1980s with her debut album “Kylie” and has since sold over 80 million records worldwide. 

Kylie is also a successful actress, having appeared in films such as “The Delinquents” (1989) and “Moulin Rouge!” (2001).

Minogue has been honored with numerous awards throughout her career, including the Grammy Award for Best International Female Artist in 2002, and in 2008, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her services to music and charity.

3. Nick Cave

Third is Nick Cave is an Australian singer and songwriter born in Warracknabeal, Victoria in 1957.

Most people know him from being the lead singer of a rock band, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. 

His songs are extreme, heavily themed, and well crafted, and his commanding stage presence is second to none. 

His efforts in the music industry were recognized when he got inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame.

4. Kevin Parker (Tame Impala)

Almost everyone who knows Kevin Parker instantly connects him to his unique musical project, The Tame Impala.

A guitarist, songwriter, and record producer, the Aussie sensation was born in Sydney but spent most of his early life in Perth. 

Born to a South African Mother and a Rhodesian father, he was involved in music from an early age. He spent most of his childhood with his dad (who played music as a hobby).

The Tame Impala is a project where Parker produces, records, and performs his music.

He is also an accomplished poet with loads of projects to his name and some of his albums released under Tame Impala include “Currents,” “Lonerism,” and “The Slow Rush.” 

5. Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Known by his stage name “Flea,” Michael Peter Balzary is a bass guitarist and actor known for being a founding member of the “Red Hot Chili Peppers” rock band.

Although now an American citizen, Flea was actually born in Victoria, Australia and he spent the first four years of his life there.

Michael adopted the name “Mikey B. The Flea” during his teen years due to his fidgety traits and has been using the name ever since.

He specifically gained popularity by combining funk-style bass with punk, hard rock, and psychedelic.

Some of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ most famous hits include the 1991 “Californication,” “Under The Bridge“, and “Can’t Stop.”

6. Keith Urban

Born in 1967, Keith Urban is a 4-time Grammy award-winning artist who made music locally and internationally. Although he was born in New Zealand he was raised in Australia, meaning that he is a citizen of both countries. 

The legendary country singer and musician has been at the forefront of the Australian Country music scene for quite a long time. He started in Australia, but his career skyrocketed once he ventured into the American scene.

Over his twenty years of music-making, more than 40 of his songs made their way into the US country Billboard chart.

Some of his most famous songs include “Somebody Like You,” “Days Go By,” “You’ll Think of Me,” “You Look Good in My Shirt,” and “Blue Ain’t Your Color.”

7. Natalie Imbruglia

Natalie Imbruglia is a talented musician whose roots lie deep in Sydney, Australia. In addition to being a talented singer and songwriter, Imbruglia has also achieved a lot as an actress.

She spent most of her early life in a small beach town along the New South Wales Coast. She started as a dancer at the age of two.

Nobody would have thought the young surfer girl (Natalie) on the famous Japanese bubble gum commercial would have gone on and made a huge name for herself in the Aussi scene.

Her music career took a massive boost after relocating to London. After that, she focused entirely on her music career, writing many songs in the process. 

8. Angus Young (AC/DC)

Another renowned Australian musician is Angus Young who most people know as the co-founder and guitarist of the famous rock band AC/DC. 

In 1973, Angus and his brother Malcolm Young founded AC/DC who started on a high note by releasing loud, simple, and pounding music. T

hey borrowed the band’s name from the initials on a sewing machine since the abbreviation captured their music’s electrification.

More than twenty of their songs have made their way into mainstream pop charts. Better still, they had three songs make it to the Billboard Hot 100: “You Shook Me All Night,” “Back in Black,” and “Money Talks.”

Young was a constant figure, songwriter, and lead guitarist in the band and the rock music world lists him among the most energetic and entertaining performers in the industry. 

9. Vance Joy

Famously known as Vance Joy, James Keogh is another massive talent from Lucky Country.

Born in Melbourne in 1987, he started out by participating in music events such as the Australian open-mike scene while pursuing law. However, he decided to venture fully into his music career after his Bon-Iver influenced songs gained him success.

His debut album, “God Loves You When You’re Dancing,” gave him his breakthrough with a number of huge hits on it such as “Riptide,” “Saturday Sun,” and “Missing Piece.”

10. Michael Hutchence (INXS)

Born in Sydney in 1960, Michael Hutchence was an Australian singer well known for being the lead vocalist of INXS (Pronounced in Excess). This Australian band rose to fame after their studio LP, Kick, made headlines. 

INXS is one of the highest record-selling artists the continent has ever seen. However, the band was hit heavily in 1997 after Hutchence committed suicide.

Some of their most popular songs include “What You Need,” “Need You Tonight,” “New Sensation,” “Never Tear Us Apart,” and “SUICIDE Blonde

11. Helen Reddy

Next, we have singer, author, songwriter, activist, and actress Helen Reddy who was the true definition of a jack of all trades.

Born in Melbourne in 1941 she was introduced to the show business early after being born in an Australian show-biz family. Her career kick-started at the young age of 4 after landing a deal as an entertainer.

Most people know Reddy through her melodic, warm, and crystalline tone in her songs. You wouldn’t miss the smoothness of her strong vocals when listening to her light pop songs, which include “I Am Woman,” and “Delta Dawn.”

12. Sia

Born in Adelaide in 1975 to a musician father, Sia Furler is one of the most famous musicians in the world, let alone Australia.

Known for valuing her privacy, the indie-pop artist conceals her face in most of her videos and stage performances.

Sia has prolific songwriting skills and by the end of 2021, she had more than seventy of her written songs recorded.

The “Titanium” hitmaker has written many songs, even for prominent musicians such as Rihanna, Maroon 5, and Fall Out Boy.

Some of her most popular songs include “Titanium,” “Wild Ones,” “Chandelier,” and “Cheap Thrills.”

13. Gotye

Wouter André “Wally” De Backer who you probably know by his stage name Gotye moved to Australia as a 2-year-old after his family relocated from Belgium.

He might not have so many popular songs to his name, but Gotye has left his mark on Australian music.  In 2011, he collaborated with Kimbra (from New Zealand) to record “Somebody That I Used to Know.” This song was a huge success both locally and internationally. 

Different Australian bodies recognized Gotye as an influential Aussie singer and he even made it to the top 50 most influential Australian Arts Industry. 

14. Olivia Newton-John

Olivia Newton-John is another hugely successful Australian musician. She first rose to fame in the early 1970s with her hit single “Banks of the Ohio” and has since sold more than 100 million records worldwide. 

Newton-John is also a successful actress, having starred in films such as “Grease” and “Xanadu.”

In 1978, she was awarded the Grammy Award for Best Pop Female Vocal Performance for her album “Have You Never Been Mellow.”

She was also honored with the Order of Australia in 1979 and was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2018.

15. Iggy Azalea

Amethyst Amelia Kelly, best known for her stage name Iggy Azalea, is an Australian rapper based in the United States.

When she was 16, Azalea dropped out of school and moved to the United States in her quest to make music. After years of hard work, she started rising to fame, dropping hit songs, and breaking records. 

Songs such as “Black Widow,” “Fancy,” “Savior,” and “Problem” have made huge numbers in different international charts. 

16. Tina Arena

Filipina (Tina) Arena was born and raised in the suburban part of Melbourne to Italian Immigrants. She spent most of her early childhood here in a family of five.

Arena’s singing style can be described as the perfect blend between RnB and Rock. She was inspired by singers such as Aretha Franklin, Barbara Streisand, and Carole King as a young girl. 

Her hard work and talent saw her become Australia’s most successful female musician by the age of 29.

17. Courtney Barnett

Born in Sydney in 1980, Courtney Barnett is a relatively new artist, but she has already impacted the music scene.

Her debut album “Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit” was released to critical acclaim in 2015, and she has since won numerous awards, including the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 2016.

Barnett is known for her unique songwriting style, which often incorporates elements of humor and storytelling into her songs.

She has said that a range of artists, including Kurt Cobain, Pavement, and The Velvet Underground, influence her.

18. Toni Watson (Tones and I)

Known for her stage name Tones and I, Toni Elizabeth Watson is an Australian singer, producer, and songwriter born in 2000. She is best known for her break-out single “Dance Monkey.” 

Her first single, “Johnny Run Away,” was released in early 2019 but didn’t do well. However, by May 2019, she released a follow-up single, Dance Monkey, which was such a huge success. 

Within the first few months, the song went on to top the music charts in more than 30 countries. She later released her first EP, “The Kids Are Coming,” in August 2019.

19. Daniel Johns (Silverchair)

And finally, born in Newcastle, New South Wales, Daniel Johns is a hugely successful Australian musician, best known as the frontman of rock band Silverchair.

The band rose to fame in the mid-1990s with their debut album “Frogstomp” and sold over six million records worldwide. 

Silverchair won numerous awards throughout their career, including four ARIA Music Awards and six APRA Awards.

Johns has also had a successful solo career, releasing his debut album “Talk” in 2019.

He has won two ARIA Music Awards for his solo work and was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2007 as a member of Silverchair.

The Final Word on Famous Musicians From Australia

As you can see, Australia has produced some of the most famous musicians in the world. These musicians have achieved massive success and earned a place in history.

If you’re a fan of any of these genres of music, then you should definitely check out some of their work. You won’t be disappointed!

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Written by Dan Farrant
Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.