After 60 years in the industry, Lonnie Lee is still going strong, bringing joy to his audiences by sharing his music all around Australia.
Speaking with the Weekender this week, Lonnie said the crowd at his upcoming show at the Penrith Paceway will be blown away by the level of entertainment.
“Usually in my show I do pretty much between 40-50 songs, it’s a powerhouse, it really rocks,” he said with a laugh.
“A lot of the people sitting in my audience were young teenagers when I had my records, and here they are 60-odd years later … still listening to the same songs.”
Lonnie began his career in the 1950s with quite low expectations given the music scene in Australia at the time. In 1957, he formed a small rockabilly band, which performed at parties and events every night of the week while he worked a day job at a bank.
“I was only 16, but I was exhausted,” he said.
“I loved it, but I didn’t have any thoughts of becoming a star, there was no chance for anyone in those days to become a star. Radio didn’t play any Australian records, in fact, there were hardly any.”
Although Australian artist Johnny O’Keefe did eventually record one record, there was hardly a trail blazed for the likes of Lonnie to follow.
“It was just a matter of hoping that next week, or the week after, there’d be another show for me to sing at,” he said.
Artists like Lonnie and those of his time took inspiration from people like Bill Haley and His Comets, and eventually Elvis.
Eventually, Lonnie would go on to record six albums and countless singles, while also contributing to the industry through songwriting.
A love for this kind of music, and a love for performing, has driven Lonnie to keep his career alive today.
“I’m blessed to be able to provide some enjoyment for other people,” Lonnie said.
Lonnie regularly plays at Penrith Paceway for the Ross Hutchison Foundation, and he also has a gig lined up at Camden Bowling Club in May.
“I love the western suburbs of Sydney because to me, they’re the real salt of the earth people – just the workers and the regular folk,” he said.
“The western suburbs were always known as the home of rock and roll.”
In his spare time, he is continuing to work on his memoirs, which he hopes to release in 2022.
Lonnie Lee will play the Penrith Paceway on Saturday, April 17. Tickets are $25. Call 0422 664 448 to book tickets.