Sadly Lorraine passed away on December 16, 2015. She had been Entertainment Officer for the Adelaide Country Music Club since it started. (almost 27 years in total)
Photo of Lorraine by Ian Fisk and some others are here
LORRAINE AND LEN WAKEFIELD, 1989
I'm Lorraine. I was born right in the heart of the city of Adelaide - Little Rundle St., Kent Town - on Feb. 20th 1934. "Lorraine Annie"; with a name like Annie I just had to be a cowgirl, not that I ever became good with two guns, but I guess at times I was wild and head-strong like Annie Oakley.
I was born into a family that liked country music. My father played mouth-organ, older sister Betty played banjo and guitar plus the auto harp, and Mother, sister Joyce and I sang around the old wood stove or the open fire in the lounge. The crackling of the fire was great. I made my first public appearance singing at the age of eight. Guess what I sang? No, not a country song. It was "A Star Fell From Heaven". I loved the late Mario Lanza. Actually I enjoyed classical music then and even now I still do.
The years rolled along and at the age of sixteen I started work, bought an old guitar and went to the Adelaide College of Music to learn to play it. I knew they had a show every year so I thought "Here I go, I'm going on the stage". Guess who the teacher was? You're right - Len Wakefield! After two years I decided to marry him for free lessons but gave the guitar playing away.
Now Len was born in 1927 in them there Adelaide Hills at a place called Careys Gully and later moved to Piccadilly and during his time on radio he became known to his fan club and the general public as the "Piccadilly Yodeller". It was after many outings to dances and parties that he met Rocky Page and the story goes they spent many hours under the stars strumming their guitars and singing songs into the early morning hours.
Well, Len was working in the Islington Railway workshops at the time of meeting me and there were quite a few open days at the Railways and Len was asked to entertain, so for a joke I took part and the people actually liked me. So that's how we got started. We were married in Scots Church, North Tce. Adelaide on the 26th April, 1952. We continued to entertain at social functions, cowboy swing shows, warm-up artists for the wrestling, special spots even at ballet concerts, and radio shows with the late Bob Fricker.
In 1956 we decided to go on Dick Fairs Amateur Hour (free trip to Sydney), didn't worry to collect votes but we did manage second place. I think a trio of saxophones won. In Sydney we put our names on the agents books and were lucky to get engagements at the League Clubs, television (Sydney Tonight) and hotels. Tried out at Festival Records but it was the wrong time as Col Joye and Johnny O'Keefe rock and roll was big so our tapes were not released. Country and western got a little lost along the way. Len and I returned to Adelaide, left our jobs, then returned to Sydney via Melbourne where we spent a few years appearing on radio and television. Met some great country artists along the way. We then moved along the North Coast entertaining at clubs etc. until we got to the Gold Coast in Queensland and we had a ball appearing at the Southport Tweedheads Chevron Hotel and clubs. It was great. Then we moved into Brisbane where we had a great agent who set up a western party theme in a department store during school holidays to entertain children. We continued on with shows at hotels, clubs and on stage at the Theatre Royal. Brisbanites love western music. Then we were asked to be the first artists on Brisbane television. Channel 9 wanted an act on their children's show and we were lucky to appear. The studio was very small but it was exciting.
We loved Brisbane but as the years were going past we decided to return to Adelaide where our daughter, Sherrilyn Lee, was born in September 1961. We continued singing around Adelaide and our son, Brentyn Craig, was born in October 1967. Having no parents alive or anyone to leave the children with we decided to stay in Adelaide. We missed the scene in Sydney and Brisbane but family came first. Our daughter, Sherri, sang with us for a short time but decided to study ballet at which she did very well for sixteen years -another reason we didn't go interstate.
We continued entertaining in Adelaide, appearing a number of times on Channel 9's Country and Western Hour. In 1974 we purchased a puppet show to entertain children. We started by using the puppet show for twenty minutes and ten minutes of songs, but soon found out the children enjoyed the songs better so now its ten minutes puppets and twenty minutes country songs.
We have been entertaining for close to forty years for the R.S.L. clubs on Sunday mornings. Once a month different branches organize hospital patients to be entertained in their club-rooms and we have been told our effort has brightened up many. We were awarded the Certificate of Appreciation at a dinner in our honour in 1977, the highest award given to non members.
In 1988 Len suffered a heart attack and has since had a double by-pass operation but the future looks bright and we hope to continue on entertaining for many more years.
On Sunday llth of June 1989 we were honoured at Barmera, South Australia, being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, which included the planting of trees in the Avenue of Fame and placing our hands in cement shaped like guitars, the neck of each guitar being a stainless steel plaque with the inscription reading "Lorraine and Len Wakefield the Piccadilly Yodellers". Articles placed in the Hall of Fame include our life story, photo album, wall photo, posters, a song and lyrics dedicated to us by Bettina Thiele, and a caricature of us by well-known artist, Frank Harding.
Len passed away July 13, 1991.
Some of the many Awards they collected through the years:-
She started entertaining in 1952 with husband Len.
Lorraine and the Adelaide Country Music Club award the Len Wakefiled Memorial Award each year to assist younger talent with proven ability, to further their career in country music. There is more information on the award here.
Lorraine has been the Entertainment Officer for the Adelaide Country Music Club for 15 years. She still frequently sings and yodels at the Adelaide and other clubs.
Lorraine can be contacted on 08 8365 6315
An old picture of Lorraine and Len from Dec 2003 Prelude
Picture of Len Wakefield that Lorraine gives to the Len Wakefield Memorial Award recipients.
Lorraine being awarded the Industry Award 2003
Taken July 2004 (most pictures by I Fisk)