Warren Fahey

Warren John Fahey AM (born 3 January 1946) is a folklore collector, cultural historian, author, actor, broadcaster, record and concert producer, visual artist, songwriter and a performer of Australian traditional and related historical music. He is the founder of Folkways Music (1973), Larrikin Records (1974) and a folk music ensemble, the Larrikins (1975).

Warren Fahey
Warren John Fahey

(1946-01-03) 3 January 1946
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
OccupationBroadcaster, cultural historian, singer-songwriter, actor

In 1988 Fahey sold his music publishing company, Larrikin Music, to Music Sales Corporation, and in 1995 sold Larrikin Records to Festival Music. In 2002 he established another record company, Undercover Music Australia.


Warren John Fahey was born on 3 January 1946 and grew up in Sydney.[1] His father, George Fahey, and mother, Deborah (née Solomon), were each members of large families.[1] Fahey attended Marist Brothers College, Kogarah for secondary education; initially he worked for ad agencies and as a youth worker.[1]

In 1970 Fahey began a folklore unit in Sydney where he collected material of cultural significance.[2] In 1973 he established Folkways Music as a "retail music outlet specialising in folkloric recordings and publications."[1][3] The store supplied "records, books, sheet music and instruments" and commenced "as a means to financing its proprietor's collecting activities. It received no government assistance, and for its first year was subsidised by advertising work."[3]

Fahey founded Larrikin Records in 1974 "to publish and commercially release extended play recordings featuring Australian traditional folk music and songs for both educational and entertainment purposes."[4] The label's first album, Man of the Earth: Songs and Ballads of the Australian Mining Industry (1975), was credited to Fahey on lead vocals; Dave de Hugard on concertina, button accordion and fiddle; Phyl Lobl on guitar, Mike Jackson on mouth organ and spoons; Andy Saunders on 5-string banjo and guitar; and Tony Suttor on accordion.[5] Fahey also produced the album.[5]

In 1975 he formed a folk music ensemble, the Larrikins, which issued an album, Limejuice and Vinegar (1977), with the line-up of Fahey and Suttor (on button accordion and Anglo concertina) joined by Ned Alexander on fiddle; Liora Claff on guitar and whistle; Jack Fallis on mandolin and guitar; and Paddy McLaughlin on banjo.[6] It was re-released in 1985, with the content described as "Traditional Australian seamen's and boatmen's songs."[6] Back in April 1975 the Larrikins undertook a tour of north-western Australia, to perform "folk-army songs, bush songs, bush poetry and yarns, bush dance music."[2]

After the Down Under (song) court case, he suggested that the copyright owners of the Kookaburra (song), Larrikin Music, 'gift' the song to Australia.[7]

He has a distinguished career as a folklorist and collector of oral histories. His collection has been housed in the National Library of Australia since 1973. https://www.nla.gov.au/selected-library-collections/warren-fahey-collection</ref>

As a performer he has been telling Australian folk stories, reciting bush poetry and singing either solo or with his ensembles The Larrikins, The Celebrated Knickers & Knockers Band, and, more recently, the Australian Bush Orchestra. Commenced performing in 1969 and has a unique repertoire of bush songs, early ballads, city ditties and associated folklore including poetry, drinking toasts and parodies. He presents specific entertainment programs based on his books at the various Writers Week festivals as well as performances at folk and regional arts festivals. He plays an English Edeophone concertina.

With his pioneering ensemble, The Larrikins, he has toured for Musica Viva and the Arts Council circuit for the past 40 years. He produced and hosted the entertainment at the first State Dinner in the new Federal Parliament House. He has represented Australia for the Department of Foreign Affairs in numerous Cultural touring programs performing in Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand, Britain, Philippines and the first-ever cultural exchange tour to the South Pacific region. He has performed at the Commonwealth Arts Festival, Edinburgh, Vancouver Folk Festival, Auckland Arts Festival and the state festivals of Perth, Sydney Festival, Adelaide Festival, Darwin Festival. In 2006 he performed a song cycle world premiere performance of Andrew Ford’s ‘Barleycorn’ for the Brisbane Festival.https://www.australianmusiccentre.com.au/workversion/ford-andrew-barleycorn/15143</ref>

Since 2000 he has performed at the National Folk Festival (2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, Majors Creek Music Festival (twice), Victor Harbour Festival, Araluen Folk Festival WA and, in 2009, The Blue Mountains Festival, National Folk Festival and Cobargo Festival. In 2001, he hosted and performed at the Belongings Exhibition for the State Library of NSW for the Governor-General, and then at the re-opening of the Mitchell Library with a performance for the Governor of NSW and the Premier.

In 2006 he was Artistic Director of the ten-day Australian Spotlight, Lorient Festival, Brittany, France, on behalf of the Australian Government. https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/france-celebrates-our-celtic-culture-20060726-gdo1fq.html</ref>

Since 2003 he has been a guest lecturer on various prestige cruise ships, notably Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas and Cunard. Mostly on Australian, New Zealand and Asian journeys however, in 2013, he was invited as a guest lecturer on two journeys in the Adriatic. In 2014 he commenced including Asian talks in his talks schedule. In 2016 he travelled with Seabourn (January) Los Angeles to Raratonga and in February with Queen Victoria on an Australian circuit.

He has performed in numerous countries, mostly with his ensemble, The Larrikins. In 2008, he took his group to Malaysia for Austrade and, in January 2009, to the Philippines for a DFAT cultural tour.

Warren sings and plays the concertina. He continues to ‘revive’ old songs by marrying them with either traditional or new musical settings. He writes songs where there are no songs to tell an aspect of the Australian story.

In 2010, he devised, scripted, recorded and co-produced (with visual artist Mic Gruchy) a major multi-screen art installation commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney titled 'Damned Souls and Turning Wheels' - a history of Cockatoo Island.[8]

His Australian Folklore Unit has been collecting and annotating Australian folklore for nearly 50 years and made available in his books, radio programs, concerts and, most importantly, on his website. "http://www.warrenfahey.com.au"</ref>

In 2012, he was Artistic Producer for the Kings Cross Festival.

In 2013, Rebel Studios completed a one-hour bio documentary on his work titled 'Larrikin Lad' which was screened several times on SBS 'Studio' and released as a DVD by ABC Video. The documentary was selected to be screened on Qantas for four months of 2014.

2014 saw Warren return to collaborating with video artist Mic Grouchy to devise and create a series of films on the history of Rookwood Cemetery (for the Rookwood Trust). One film told the story of Rookwood as the Southern Hemisphere's largest surviving Victorian necropolis and four told the story of notable interments Roy Rene, David Jones & Anthony Hordern, Mai Quong Tart and newspaper baron John Fairfax. In 2015 additional heritage films were made on Rookwood's ANZAC connections, Louisa Lawson, Peter Dawson. In addition, Warren produced public events including Tales of Valour (commemoration WW1) and the 2015 Remembrance Day. In 2017 two more films were commissioned by Rookwood to commemorate the necropolis 150th anniversary - one general script titled 'The Sleeping City' and the other on the Mortuary Railway.[9]

As a features writer Warren Fahey continues to contribute to numerous newspapers and magazines including a stint as a lifestyle writer for Harper's Bazaar, Australian stringer for Conde Nast Traveler USA, Vogue Entertaining and Travel, The Bulletin Magazine, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Rhythms and various specialist magazines. He has written extensively for television and radio.

2015 Warren Fahey and Max Cullen co-wrote and performed the two-hand stage play Dead Men Talking. Max Cullen plays Henry Lawson and Warren Fahey portrayed Banjo Paterson. The first tour covered the mid-NSW coast in a twelve-night tour. Since March 2015 through to May 2016 the play has been performed nearly 250 times including successful tours in NSW, Tasmania, ACT and Victoria. http://www.warrenfahey.com/performance/dead-men-talking-stage-play/ The actors' toured west New South Wales and Victoria in 2019. They have been confirmed for the Adelaide Fringe Festival 2020. https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/dead-men-talking</ref>

In January 2016 Warren Fahey presented three sold-out shows - '40 Ways To Love Your City' - celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Festival. These shows were staged in the Famous Spiegel Tent in Sydney's Hyde Park. https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/theatre/sydney-festival-celebrates-its-40th-anniversary--should-the-party-continue-20151223-gltsik.html</ref>

In 2017 he continued his work as a cultural historian and performer. A new book on the social history of inner Sydney 'The Good Old Bad Old Days' was published 2017. https://smsa.org.au/events/event/warren-fahey-for-cosha-the-good-old-bad-old-days/</ref>

In August 2019 he was Artistic Director for the Sydney Folk Festival, a three-day event staged in Sydney Central with over 150 performers.https://folkfednsw.org.au/event/sydney-folk-festival/</ref>



  • Founder of Folkways Music 1973 (sold 1993)
  • Co-founder (with Zandra Stanton) Grandma Was Right! Health Food Retail.
  • Founder Larrikin Records (1974 sold 1995) Larrikin Music Publishing (1975 sold 1988) Larrikin Entertainment (1977-1995).
  • Founder Planet Distribution (sold 2002)
  • Co-founder (with Nick & Tony Wales of Undercover Music Group – Executive Producer of Rouseabout, Yep and Silent Music independent music labels. 2000 + https://www.undercovermusic.com.au</ref>
  • Founder Bodgie Productions Pty Ltd. 2000 =


  • Justice of the Peace (NSW) 1968 – onwards
  • Bicentennial Committee 1986-1988
  • President Paddington Chamber of Commerce 1978 – 1987
  • Board member of Australian Record Industry Association 1992-1998
  • ARIA Awards Governor’s Board 1998-2000
  • Board member Geraldine Pascall Foundation 2002 – onwards
  • Chairman City Edge Partnership 2005 – 06
  • President – CERA (city edge resident’s association) 2006- 2008
  • Artistic consultant National Trust annual fundraiser 2003/4/5
  • Australian Commonwealth Cultural Gift Scheme – authorized valuer 2004 onwards
  • President Folk Alliance Australia – 2008-9
  • Co-administrator Potts Pointers - 2010 https://www.facebook.com/groups/PottsPointers/


  • Navvy on the Line - Australian railway songs
  • On The Steps of The Dole-Office Door. songs and poems of the Great Depression
  • Game s Ned Kelly. the bushranger myths in song and ballad
  • Limejuice and Vinegar - Australian sea songs
  • Digger's Songs - Australian army, navy, airforce and land army song.
  • While The Billy Boils - double selection of bush songs
  • The Larrikin Sessions - Australian bush songs - live recording
  • Billy of Tea - a selection of bush songs
  • Man of the Earth - songs of Australian coal and gold mining
  • Larrikin History of Australia - various bush songs
  • Seven Creeks Run. compilation Australiana
  • Rebel Chorus. double album of Australian songs of social change
  • Australia - its land and its people - Australiana double album
  • Sing Us Anothery, Dirty As Buggery. Australian bawdy songs and poetry
  • Rooted in the Country. Australian bawdy songs and poetry
  • From Convict Chains to Shearer's Blades - 5 CD box set.
  • Celebration of a Nation. - 5 Cd box set
  • Rare Convict Ballads and Broadsides.
  • Bushrangers, Bolters & Other Wild Colonials.
  • Give Me A Hut In My Own Native Land. pioneering settlement
  • Currency Lads & Lasses: Songs of Australian romance.
  • Songs of Drovers, Shearers & Bullockies.
  • Across the Seven Seas: the Australian maritime collection.
  • Lean Times & Mean Times: Australia in depression.
  • Solidarity Forever. songs of unity.
  • Australia's On The Wallaby. songs of pomp and circumstance.
  • Roll, Pitch, Whack & Boot: Australian sporting songs.
  • The Australian Bush Orchestra.
  • Down The Overlander's Trail - the roots of Australian country music.
  • "Great Australian Bush & Folk Songs. 2014 ABC"
  • " Dead Men Talking. Warren Fahey & Max Cullen. 2015 Rouseabout Records."
  • Plus over 550 Australian albums produced for the following labels: Larrikin, Yesterday's Australia, Spin, Jarra Hill, Knot, Rouseabout, Yep, Silent, M7, EMI, Universal, Festival etc.


  • "All At Sea - Australian Maritime Traditions. Bodgie Books. ebook 2017"
  • "The Good Old Bad Old Days - a curious history of Woolloomooloo, Potts Point, Kings Cross, Elizabeth & Rushcutters Bay". Bodgie Books 2017"
  • "The World Turned Upside-down - a history of the Australian Gold Rush. Bodgie Books"
  • Australia: Its Folksongs & Bush Verse. ABC Books
  • Australia: Its Folksongs & Bush Ballads - 3 volume e-book series.ABC/Harper Collins
  • Sing Us Anothery Dirty As Buggery. - Australian bawdry - ebook. Bodgie Books
  • Manar: a Potts Point local history. Bodgie Books
  • "Manar. Bodgie E-Boosk"
  • Old Bush Songs - the centenary edition (with Graham Seal). ABC
  • Classic Bush Yarns. Harper Collins
  • Great Aussie Yarns.A&R
  • The Big Fat Book of Aussie Jokes: Australian humour at work in the 21st Century.Harper Collins
  • Ratbags & Rabblerousers - Australian political parody and satire in the 20th century. Currency Press
  • Diggers' Songs - the songs Australian diggers sang in eleven wars from the Maori Wars to the Gulf War. Australian Military History Press
  • When Mabel Laid The Table - the folklore of eating and drinking in Australia from colonial days to takeaways. ABC.
  • The Balls of Bob Menzies - Australian political folklore from Federation onwards. A&R
  • The Songs That Made Australia - 107 bush songs. A&R
  • Australian Folksong Guide - the bush band. CBC
  • Eureka. - the social history of Australia as seen through song. Ominbus
  • Pint Pot & Billy. A selection of Australian songs. William Collins
  • Joe Watson - his life and times.Folklore Associates
  • While The Billy Boils. ABC
  • Folklore of the Australian Wedding. e-book. Bodgie Books
  • While The Billy Boils. Australian history (with accompanying 16 tape set).ABC
  • Tucker Track: the curious history of Australian food. ABC
  • Contributed anthologies: (partial selections.)
  • Oxford Companion to Australian Folklore. Oxford University Press.
  • The Stockman - Kevin Weldon Publishing.
  • The Companion to Australian Music. Currency Press.
  • Missing in Action. Australian Popular Culture. MUP
  • Australian Almanac 1989/1991/1992. Angus & Robertson/HC.
  • Verandah Music. Curtin University.
  • Folklore Essays (edited Graham Seal/Jennifer Gall) 2010 Curtin University Press.
  • Writing – general.
  • Past or present contributor to The Bulletin, Vogue Entertaining & Travel, Conde Nast Traveler USA, Outback Magazine, Trad&Now, Simply Australia, BRW, Rhythms Magazine.

Festival performances

  • Commonwealth Games Arts Festival Edinburgh
  • Vancouver Folk Festival Canada
  • Australian National Folk Festival - over 25 festivals
  • Blue Mountains Music Festival
  • Brisbane Festival - premiere performance of Andrew Ford's John Barleycorn.
  • Malaysia Mata Expo - for Austrade
  • Cultural Exchange tour of Nine South Pacific nations - DFAT
  • Philippines Australia Day Week - DFAT
  • 36th Festival InterCeltique - Lorient, France
  • Cobargo Festival x 3
  • Festival of Perth
  • Sydney Festival - numerous years
  • Various regional festivals - Gundagai, Orange, Newcastle, Bungaree Bush Camp etc.


  • Warren Fahey has scripted, performed and produced countless hours of programming commissioned by the ABC including:
  • While The Billy Boils. 16 programs
  • The Great Australian Legend. 16 programs
  • Navvy on the Line. 3 programs
  • The Song Carriers. The Songs That Made Australia. 12 programs
  • Sunday Folk Specials - over 8 years of programming.
  • The Larrikin Sessions. Live broadcast concerts
  • That's Australia ABC Television series. 56 programs.
  • Australian Cavalcade. 8 programs.
  • ‘Down the Lawson Track’, recorded live in concert at the National Library
  • Regular commentator on ABC regional and metropolitan radio plus specialist programs like 'Into the Music' and 'Hindsight'.


  1. "Warren Fahey". ABC Music (Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)). Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  2. "Folk Group Will Be Hit". Hamersley News. X (8). Western Australia. 21 April 1977. p. 14. Retrieved 18 October 2016 via National Library of Australia. Note: Warren Fahey is shown in the Larrikins photo; he is at left holding a lagerphone.
  3. "Places". Tharunka. 22 (5). New South Wales, Australia. 31 March 1976. p. 17. Retrieved 18 October 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  4. "Larrikin Records". Music Australia. 13 August 2004. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  5. Jackson, Mike; Fahey, Warren; Saunders, Andy; Lobl, Phyl; De Hugard, Dave; Suttor, Tony (1975), Man of the Earth: Songs and Ballads of the Australian Mining Industry, Larrikin Records, retrieved 18 October 2016
  6. Fahey, Warren; Larrikins (1985), Limejuice & Vinegar, Larrikin Records, retrieved 18 October 2016
  7. "Larrikin Music Founder Speaks Out".
  8. "Damned Souls and Turning Wheels". 12 August 2011.
  9. http://www.rgct.com.au
  10. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/arts/honour-for-larrikin-who-keeps-folk-songs-alive/story-e6frg8n6-1225848209404
  11. Australian Government - It's an Honour Search Australian Honours
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