A website dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of Australian
country music.

Country Music
The Music Of
Our Country

The Story of Australian Country Music

A Tribute to Buddy

A Tribute to Jimmy

A Tribute to Reg

A Tribute to Shirley

A Tribute to Slim

– Slim, Chronicler of the Bush

A Tribute to Smoky

A Tribute to Tex

– Tex Morton White Guitars

A Tribute to The McKean Sisters

Arch Kerr – pioneer record producer

Australia's College of Country Music

Bicentennial Concert 1970

The Big Golden Guitar


Brief History of the Golden Guitar Awards

Brief History of Star Maker

The Buddy Bishop Story

Country Music Capital Meets Music City

Country Music Hands of Fame

Country Music Media

Country Music Roll of Renown

Country Timeline

First The Song

Ghosts of Tamworth

Golden Guitar Memories

Golden Guitar Pioneers

Golden Guitar Winners Tally

The Gympie Muster

The Hadley Records Story

History of the College of Country Music

How the CMAA Was Born

How Tamworth became Country Music Capital

How the College of Country Music Works


The John Minson Story


Minson Memories

Narrative! Narrative! Narrative!

Origins of the Tamworth Country Music Festival

Radio Ranch & Spurs

Ross Murphy

Sources and Resources

Stairway to Stardom

The Story of Maton Guitars

Tamworth Milestones

Tamworth, We've Done Us Proud

What is Country Music

For more information
Contact: Max Ellis

Email info@historyofcountrymusic.com.au


All matters relating to the conduct of this site remain under the total control of Max Ellis or his nominees who will endeavour to ensure the accuracy and balance of the content and proper conduct of the site but, subject to legal requirements, cannot be held responsible for any digression or non-compliance in respect of these matters.

Birth of the Golden Guitars

Today the famous Golden Guitar trophies, which sparkle on the stage at the Toyota Golden Guitar Awards, are recognised all over the nation as a symbol of country music and Tamworth.

Thirty years ago they were just an idea. 

In late 1972, 2TM‘s Mr Hoedown, John Minson and 2TM Station Manager, Max Ellis were discussing the type of trophies they would like to use in the Country Music Awards they were planning for January 1973.

After attending a function in Sydney where a Perspex trophy disintegrated as it was presented, the two agreed their trophy would have to be rock solid and truly representative of country music. 

After deciding on the concept of a bronze guitar, local artist Harry Frost (pictured at right with Max Ellis and Buddy Williams) was commissioned to produce a detailed design based on a semi cut-away, dual pick-up, hollow-bodied guitar. It was a recognition of both traditional design, and modern amplified electric guitar.

From Harry's sculpture, John made the pattern and it was cast at Austral Brass Foundry in Sydney. The very rough casts were polished and prepared by John and mounted on a highly polished Tasmanian Blackwood base, prepared by Tamworth cabinetmaker Noel Smith from timber originally donated by fans in Northern Tasmania and chosen as a tribute to Tasmanian Talent.

The finished trophy stands 24cm high (with base) and weighs 1.5kgs.

Initially, John Minson personally prepared each and every Golden Guitar grinding, smoothing and polishing the rough casts and mounting them on their carefully finished bases before attaching the brass plaques engraved with the winners details. In the mid eighties Noel Smith took over the responsibility for producing the Golden Guitars. Still totally dedicated to this task after almost 20 years, Noel spends many hours bringing a high lustre finish to each casting and base, rejecting many that he feels are not up to the high standards he demands.

The final decision, which has played a huge role in creating the legend, was the name. Today it seems obvious to call the trophies “Golden Guitars” but then it was a conscious decision by 2TM Executives. The famous brand name was quickly established and today a national survey shows that 72% of all adult Australians recognise the name.

The Golden Guitar Awards became the foundation of a festival, which has been created around the core event over the past 30 years.

Since Joy McKean picked up the first trophy in 1973 (for her Song Of The Year, "Lights On The Hill"), up to 2005, some 369 Golden Guitars have been presented at a current rate of 16 or more a year. The late Slim Dusty has won 38, with John Williamson at 21 and Lee Kernaghan at 20.

The Golden Guitar is reproduced in many forms now, from the giant 12 metre high replica outside The Golden Guitar Tourist Centre in Tamworth, to tiny badges. However, to artists and fans alike, the original trophies still represent the ultimate accolade, the goal that most performers strive to attain.

They may be only cast bronze, but when a winning artist steps forward on the Awards stage amid the cheers and adulation, the spotlights and the cameras, the glitter and excitement, the Golden Guitars might as well be real gold.

Updated 7/4/05

Compiled and produced in Tamworth, Australia's Country Music Capital © Copyright 2006 GM Ellis Material on this site can be down loaded. Where copyrights on pictures or other content are known to exist, approvals for use have been obtained. If you have any query regarding material on the site please contact the site manager