Joe Yates

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Joe Yates provided details of some of the Australian tunes in this archive.

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Joe Yates is a significant character in the pantheon of collected Australian musicians. He was born at Sunny Corner, near Bathurst in 1895, one of ten children. A musical family, his father and grandfather both played violin as did as most of his siblings who variously sang, played piano, violin or accordion.

His grandfather, George Sr. was born in Yorkshire in 1824. George Sr migrated to Queensland but soon moved to Hill End, NSW, attracted by the gold rush of the 1850s.

Joe Yates lived his life on and about the central tablelands of NSW, working as a boundary rider on Fremantle Station, east of Orange and later buying a farm at Botobolar, near Mudgee. Joe retired to Sofala, where he became known to a number of collectors interested in his music. These included John Meredith, Chris Sullivan, Mark Rummery, Cath Ovenden, Bob Campbell, Barry MacDonald and Mike Martin who severally and variously collected Joe Yates. Much of the material collected from Joe Yates now sits with the National Library of Australia.

During his retirement Joe Yates was better known by the locals as a storyteller and reciter. Two small books of his poems and stories were published. Joe died in February 1987, aged 92. He is buried at Sofala.

John Meredith published a number of Joe Yates’ tunes in, B:J Meredith, R Covell, & P Brown, Folk Songs of Australia Vol 2, UNSW Press, 1987, p193, ISBN 0 86840 018 1

Mike Martin prepared and printed a book of his versions of the Yates tunes in 1999: "Collected Tunes From Joe Yates", Published by Mike Martin, 1999, p30, ISBN 0-646-36894-X. Joe Yates generally did not have any names for his tunes and those in this book were assigned by Mike Martin.