WHO WAS THE BOY FROM OZ?

Herald Sun - Switched On - - COVER STORY -

Peter Allen was born Peter Wool­nough in 1944 in the coun­try NSW town of Ten­ter­field, where his grand­fa­ther, Ge­orge, was the lo­cal sad­dler — a fact im­mor­talised in one of his most fa­mous bal­lads.

Mov­ing to nearby Ar­mi­dale with his fam­ily, the tal­ented boy found con­fi­dence in mu­sic, a refuge from his al­co­holic fa­ther, who

took his own life. He would change his name when paired with another singer, Chris, the duo per­form­ing as the Allen Broth­ers.

Dis­cov­ered by Judy Gar­land when on tour in Hong Kong, the showbiz icon took Allen un­der her wing, man­ag­ing his in­ter­na­tional ca­reer as a singer and song­writer for big-name mu­si­cal stars in­clud­ing Patti La­belle, Melissa Manch­ester and Olivia New­ton-John.

She also in­tro­duced him to her daugh­ter, Liza Min­nelli, who he mar­ried in 1967. They di­vorced in 1974 and Allen later came out as gay. His long-term part­ner, Greg Con­nell, a Texan fash­ion model who worked with Allen as a sound and light de­signer for his shows, died of an AIDS-re­lated ill­ness in 1984.

Allen suc­cumbed to the dis­ease in 1992, leav­ing a legacy of hits in­clud­ing I Still Call Aus­tralia Home, I

Hon­estly Love You and I Go To Rio. His life story was turned into a hit stage mu­si­cal, The Boy From Oz.

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