Jailed Entertainer Harris Confirmed Dead
Jailed Australian-born Entertainer Harris who had been seriously ill with neck cancer and receiving 24-hour care has reportedly died.
The PA Media reported in a statement that Harris had died peacefully surrounded by family and friends.
An artist and musician who first earned fame in the 1950s with the top 10 hit novelty song “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport”, Harris went on to present prime-time TV shows mostly aimed at children.
He performed with the Beatles, painted Queen Elizabeth’s portrait and presented himself as the affable inventor of the novelty musical instrument, the wobble board.
His song “Two Little Boys” spent six weeks at number one in Britain, the last chart-topper of the 1960s and the first of the 1970s. In 1993, his wobble board cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” also charted in Britain.
Born in Perth, Australia, in 1930, Harris was a prolific artist from childhood, given to silly noises and voices to mask shyness, a trait he said he learned from his father. He moved to London at 22 to attend art school with hopes of becoming a portrait painter like his grandfather.
A year later, he got a job sketching cartoons on children’s television, work that continued through the 1950s while he performed nights, singing comedy songs with a piano accordion, in a club for Australian and New Zealander expatriates.
It was for that crowd in 1957 he wrote what would be his breakout hit, “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport”, which he said was an attempt to localise Harry Belafonte’s calypso classic “The Jack-Ass Song”.
A woman who was assaulted by Harris decades earlier, when she was friends with his daughter, watched his televised 2012 performance at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert.
“That’s when I decided I wasn’t going to have any more of it” and would go to the police, she later testified
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