Thursday, 13 April 2017


Shorty Ranger (Edwin Haberfield) was born on 9 October 1925, in Kempsey, New South Wales, He grew up on the adjoining farm at Nulla Nulla Creek to that occupied by the family of Slim Dusty. After first meeting at school, they became firm friends with a mutual love of music. Especially attracted to the songs and yodels that they heard on the recordings of artists such as Wilf Carter and Tex Morton, they aimed at a singing career. They learned to play guitar and, performing as a duo, at one time briefly as Buddy Bluebird and Buddy Blackbird, they entertained in their local area. During the 40s, they toured further afield, including Adelaide and Sydney, without lasting success. Although their careers separated in 1951, their friendship continued throughout the years. Shorty gained recognition and a recording contract with Rodeo Records that year, by virtue of his appearance on a national talent show organized by Tim McNamara, and Slim went on to international stardom.

Shorty married in 1952 and the following year, when the first of four sons and two daughters arrived, he decided to concentrate on his family. From the mid-50s through to the early 70s, limiting his personal appearances, he made some recordings but mainly concentrated on his songwriting. In 1969, the legendary Australian singer Buddy Williams, who recorded almost 50 of Shorty’s songs, released a tribute album called Buddy And Shorty. After 1973, with his family grown, he became more active both as a performer and recording artist. He released six albums on Hadley and later a series of 12 on his own Wildwood label. During the late 80s, he suffered a stroke and also a period of ill health as a result of poisoning from pest control chemicals. He survived and in 1989, he won the Songmaker Of The Year award at the prestigious Tamworth Country Music Awards. In 1992, he celebrated 50 years of country by appearing on stage with old friend Slim Dusty. His health caused concern again in August 1994, which led to a brief hospital stay. In October, he was involved in a serious road accident, but by December, he was working on his first CD release.

Since 1942, Shorty Ranger wrote over 360 other songs, many of which have been recorded by other artists. ‘Winter Winds’, written in 1943, is undoubtedly the best known, owing to its use as his signature tune and to Slim Dusty’s 1957 recording of it. The song, now rated as an Australian country classic, won Shorty a gold award in 1992. Over the years, he received many other awards including a Golden Guitar. He was honoured several times as a Pioneer Of Country Music in Australia and in 1993, he was elected to the Australian Country Music Roll of Renown. He died in 2007.



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