Vale Kevin Knapp: A driving force behind Tamworth's reputation as the Country Music Capital, has passed away

Kevin Knapp.
Kevin Knapp.

KEVIN KNAPP was one of the small group at Radio 2TM who, in the late 60s and early 70s, created Tamworth’s national reputation as Australia’s Country Music Capital.

Possibly the third Awards (1975), where Kevin Knapp salutes, left, as Suzanne Prentice presents Nev Nicholls with the Best Instrumental Award (Nashville Express).

Possibly the third Awards (1975), where Kevin Knapp salutes, left, as Suzanne Prentice presents Nev Nicholls with the Best Instrumental Award (Nashville Express).

Kevin Knapp was born in Nowra NSW in 1932.

A dairyman’s son, he left the farm and headed for Sydney where he landed a job as an office boy with international music publishers Boosey and Hawkes.

Looking for a career in broadcasting, he first became a panel operator with Radio Station 2CH and later in the early 50s he found a place as a radio announcer with Radio 2LM, Lismore.

It became an introduction to country music through 2LM’s Radio Ranch Show.

Started by Phillip Charley and Dick McLaren, it was a Saturday morning show which gave aspiring singers the chance to perform live on radio.

Max Ellis, Smoky, Eric Scott, Kevin Knapp and John Minson.

Max Ellis, Smoky, Eric Scott, Kevin Knapp and John Minson.

With fellow 2LM announcer, the late Strat Ward, he created a couple of characters called Cactus and Hotfoot (Kevin) for Radio Ranch.

In 1964 Kevin found as new job as Station Supervisor at Tamworth’s Radio Station 2TM.

It was an important move because it started his long involvement with Tamworth and Australian country music.

At that time the Tamworth country music scene was very active with stars like Geoff Brown and Michael Cook appearing regularly and the Modern Country Music Association starting it’s jamborees.

Roll of Renown 1983, Joy McKean and H McKean, Kevin Knapp, Max Ellis.

Roll of Renown 1983, Joy McKean and H McKean, Kevin Knapp, Max Ellis.

As Station Supervisor, Kevin helped introduce a new night-time country music program on 2TM to be run by copywriter, John Minson.

It was called ‘Hoedown’ and over the years it became the cornerstone of 2TM’s drive into country music.

Kevin was one of the team that came up with the concept of Tamworth as Australia’s Country Music Capital.

When the Golden Guitar Awards started on January 28th, 1973, Kevin was the first host and presenter.

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Suave and always in control of the sometimes unpredictable presentations, it was a role he continued to fill for the next 15 years as the Awards became nationally recognised and broadcast on radio and TV around Australia and New Zealand.

Kevin was involved in every aspect of the stations’ country music activities.

A prolific and imaginative writer, he was a regular contributor and sometime editor of 2TM’s monthly country music newspaper Country Music Capital News, still an important country music publication today.

Kevin was known, trusted and admired by all the artists he worked with, on stage and off, from Slim Dusty, Joy McKean, Smoky Dawson and Johnny Ashcroft through to many of the established artists of today, like Lee Kernaghan and James Blundell.

A humble man himself, Kevin Knapp’s outstanding achievements were recognised by many industry accolades and awards including a Country Music Capital Golden Guitar Award in 1989, a TSA (Tamworth Songwriters’ Association) Award and in 2005, a TIARA (Tamworth Independent Artists’ Recognition Association) Industry and Pioneer Award.

His versatility, experience, broadcasting know-how and his invariably good humoured, friendly and welcoming personality at 2TM made a major contribution to the early success of the Tamworth country music scene.

Kevin Knapp – broadcaster, writer, compere and gentleman - undoubtedly one of Tamworth’s most loved and respected Country Music pioneers.

Kevin leaves two children, daughter Lisa Neal and her family in Tamworth and son Robert on the Gold Coast.

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