Artist News

Olivia Newton-John dies

By | Published on Tuesday 9 August 2022

Olivia Newton-John

Olivia Newton-John has died, aged 73. In a statement on her official Facebook page, her husband John Easterling wrote that she had “passed away peacefully at her ranch in Southern California … surrounded by family and friends”.

Born in the UK in 1948, her family emigrated to Australia in 1954, where she began her career in music as a teenager. In 1965, she won a TV talent contest, the prize from which was a trip to the UK. It was there that she properly began her pop career, releasing her debut single, ‘Till You Say You’ll Be Mine’, for Decca in 1966.

After two short-lived collaborative projects – the duo Pat And Olivia, with Pat Carroll, and the group Toomorrow, with whom she starred in the musical film of the same name – she released her debut solo album, ‘Olivia Newton-John’, in 1971. She also went on to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974, coming fourth with the song ‘Long Live Love’ at the edition of the competition won by Abba with ‘Waterloo’.

Initially achieving success in the UK and Australia, she also found fame in the US. Although her country-pop sound proved controversial in some quarters, with some people in the country music industry angry about a foreigner achieving sales and awards success in the genre. In fact, a new trade body, the Association Of Country Entertainers, briefly formed in protest after she was named Female Vocalist Of The Year by the Country Music Association in 1974.

Newton-John is probably most remembered for playing Sandy Olsson in the 1978 film ‘Grease’, however. Both the film and its soundtrack were a huge hit, leading to her becoming the second woman in US chart history to have two songs in the Billboard top five simultaneously – ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ and ‘Summer Nights’.

Following this success, she shifted to more of a pop sound, and in 1981 released her most successful solo album, ‘Physical’, which spawned her best-known song of the same name. An early advocate of music videos, promos were filmed for all of the album’s singles, which presented a narrative running throughout them.

Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, Newton-John become an advocate for cancer research and awareness throughout the remainder of her life. In 2017, she announced that her cancer had returned and spread to her bones.

Her final album, ‘Friends For Christmas’, was a collaboration with John Farnham, which reached number one in Australia and was certified double platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association.