Mal passed away suddenly on Sat Jan 8th 2005!
His funeral was held Friday Jan 14 at 11:30 am at the Wesley Uniting Church, corner of Fullarton Rd and Grenfell Street, Kent Town. There was a large attendance, a number of people spoke emotionally about their experiences with Big Mal, loving husband, father and friend to so many.
A tribute show to Mal was held at the Kilburn RSL on January 30, 2005. The whole show was taped. A tape or DVD is available from either Stan Hodson, ph 8381 7569 or Leanne Rice on 8322 5502. The DVDs are $22 and videos $18 of "Country Music Tribute".
Born at Mile End, an inner suburb of Adelaide, on the 5th November 1950 into a family that loved music, Mal remembers as a child, singing along with the old 78 rpm records of Hank Snow, Reg Lindsay and Bing Crosby.
He sang in the school choirs and was in the 1,000 voices choir at Adelaide Town Hall in 1963 While at primary and high school Mal also performed in concerts at the local Church of Christ, singing ,acting and taking part in comedy routines. After starting work as a apprentice butcher in 1967, Mal sang in various rock and roll bands. At the same time he took 10 guitar lessons at the Adelaide College Of Music. " I knew I'd never be a great guitarist" says Mal "I just wanted to be able to accompany my own singing". He became caught up in the folk music craze of the sixties, playing and singing Bob Dylan and Peter Paul and Mary songs. He even had a go at musical comedy in the late 1960's, singing with the gentlemen's chorus in a couple of shows including Paint Your Wagon, with the Mayfair Theatre Society. In 1970 Mal became a devoted fan of Johnny Cash and used to do a solo act performing only Johnny's songs. Mal gave up playing in rock and roll bands in 1974 after a friend introduced him to the music of Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Conway Twitty and Ernest Tubb. Along with songs from these great artists (and the Johnny Cash numbers as well) Mal formed his first country music band called the "Country Cavaliers". He soon realised that country music was his first love and has since sung with many successful country bands since the mid 1970's. Some of these were Spinifex, Travelling Country, Big Mal and the Breadline Boys, Company Blue, The Raiders, High Cotton, Dallas, Windfall, Saddletramp and Country Mile, among others. He has also sung at many Country Festivals both as a solo performer and in bands, and throughout all this, he has continued to do floor shows and one man acts whenever asked.
Mal has written quite a few songs over the years, and in 1980 made it into the top ten of the Tamworth Starmaker contest with his two of his self penned songs "Nullarbor" and "The Silver City".
In 1982 he went to the USA to visit friends and visited many states. He spent some time in Nashville and made the locals sit up and take notice when he performed at a few country music honkytonks down south in North Carolina and Louisiana. They wanted him to stay on.
Mal also performed in successful two piece vocal and guitar groups with both Keith Bambery and Bob Tickle for many years.
He is still singing with various bands today, including Wanetta's Country Plus and Sundown.
Mal's great voice and large repertoire, and the ability to fit in well, have made him one of the first choices when a band needs a substitute lead singer at the drop of a hat.
He is particularly renowned for the wonderful way he sings the old country love songs and the feeling that he puts into them.
He also has a great love of gospel music and has performed, and still does, at many Church concerts and gospel shows.
" Big Mal" as he has always been known to country fans and musos alike, is a friendly, easy going ( I've never been pushy" he says) sort of bloke, with a beautiful voice, who is always available for a song request ( he knows most of 'em) or a chat with any of his many fans wherever he goes.
He says he loves to sing to people and thereby touch their hearts ( you can see it in their eyes he says) and he has no plans to stop doing it.
Contact Mal on (08) 8322-5502 Email
Mal at Southern CM Club Nov 2003 (Picture by I Fisk)