Lead Singer of The Seekers Dies at 79

Judith Durham, an Australian folk star who rose to fame in 1962 after joining The Seekers as the band’s lead vocalist, has died. She was 79.

Her death was confirmed by Musicoast Pty. Ltd. and Universal Music Australia, who announced the news through a joint statement posted via The Seeker’s official Facebook page on Friday.

“After a brief stay in the Alfred Hospital, Judith was admitted to Palliative Care on Friday 5 August, where she passed away peacefully that evening,” the statement read. “Her death was a result of complications from a long-standing chronic lung disease.”

In the statement, her fellow surviving members of The Seekers — Keith Potger, Bruce Woodley, and Athol Guy — said their lives “are changed forever losing our treasured lifelong friend and shining star.”

“Her struggle was intense and heroic — never complaining of her destiny and fully accepting its conclusion,” they shared. “Her magnificent musical legacy Keith, Bruce and I are so blessed to share.”

Universal Music Australia did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment.

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Born in Melbourne on July 3, 1943, Durham — whose legal name was Judith Mavis Cock — began her professional singing career at the age of 18 after asking the leader of the Melbourne University Jazz Band if she could join the group. In 1962, she became a member of The Seekers, a band that transformed her into an international star.

With hits including “I’ll Never Find Another You,” “I Am Australian” and “Georgy Girl,” the folk music group has sold more than 50 million records worldwide.

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In 1968, Durham departed from the group to pursue a solo career and released several albums before reuniting with The Seekers in the 1990s. She married Ron Edgeworth, a British pianist, in 1969; however, he died almost 30 years later after suffering from motor neuron disease.

On Friday, Durham’s beloved sister Beverley Sheehan discussed the bond they shared during their lifetime, saying, “Judith’s joy for life, her constant optimism, creativity and generosity of spirit were always an inspiration to me.”

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Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also paid tribute to Durham after learning about her passing, calling her “a national treasure and an Australian icon.”

“Judith Durham gave voice to a new strand of our identity and helped blaze a trail for a new generation of Aussie artists,” he wrote on Twitter. “Her kindness will be missed by many, the anthems she gave to our nation will never be forgotten.”

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