Edgar Waters (1925-2008)

8. 5. 2008 | Rubriky: Articles,Lives

[by Ken Hunt, London] Like Ron Edwards (1930-2008), the Australian folklorist and folk recordist, folk journalist and archivist Edgar Waters was a pioneer in the field of Australian folksong and folklore. In 1947 he co-authored Rebel Songs with Stephen Murray-Smith, a booklet for the A.S.L.F. – a slim volume similar to the Workers’ Music Association booklets that were being published in Britain.

Waters was working in Britain by the mid 1950s and assisted Alan Lomax on his Folk Songs of North America (1960) before returning to Australia. It was an era of small specialist record companies worldwide, many of which operated on a shoestring. Australia’s version of, say, Topic Records in Britain, was the Sydney, NSW-based Wattle company (1955-1963). Waters fell in with Wattle’s founder Peter Hamilton. They worked together on influential early volumes in Wattle’s so-called Archive Series such as Australian Traditional Singers (1957) and Australian Traditional Singers and Musicians of Victoria (1960), which brought the likes of Catherine Peatey, Sally Sloane and Duke Tritton to people’s attention.

These were the early days of Australian Folk Revival and he had a hand in bringing the likes of the Buckwhackers, the English folklorists and singer A.L. Lloyd, the Rambleers and, in 1963, the Aboriginal singer-songwriter Dougie Young to the public’s attention. Later Waters was a key figure in the documentation of this scene and movement, working with the National Library of Australia and its Oral History and Folklore sections. Waters’ writings on folk and jazz graced many LP and CD releases, The Australian and The Oxford Companion to Australian Folklore (1993).

Edgar Waters died on 1 May 2008.


This piece was corrected on 8 July 2014. Thanks go to Alistair Banfield for alerting the author to a mistaken spelling. Alistair wrote, “The group that Edgar Waters was involved with was called the ‘Bushwhackers’ not the ‘Bushwackers’ – who were a later Australian group or Buckwackers as you have it.”

For more information and images visit, “Wattle Records and Films” at http://www.abc.net.au/rn/history/hindsight/stories/s1157792.htm

For more information about Ron Edwards on this site visit, http://kenhunt.doruzka.com/index.php/ron-edwards-1930-2008/

Additionally, Dave Arthur’s Bert Lloyd – The Life and Times of A.L. Lloyd (2012) contains further illuminations about Edgar and Ann Waters’ time and work in Britain in the early 1950s.

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