Marius Webb, member of the Webb Brothers country music group and co-founder of the Gympie Music Muster died recently. At his Thanksgiving Mass in St Patrick’s Church, Gympie, his daughters Philomena and Maria recalled life with their beloved father.
“WISH I could see the angels’ faces when they hear your sweet voice sing!”
These are the words from one of Dad’s favourite songs, “Go Rest High On That Mountain”, that he often sang at home. How fitting they seem for us today as we farewell him.
Marius Webb was many things to many people, but to us, he was simply a wonderful dad, who was also a pretty good singer.
Dad was born on January 19, 1932, just down the road from here at the old Braeside Hospital.
He was the sixth of eight children of William and Hilda Webb. He grew up on the family property “Thornside” at Widgee, a place that was selected by his grandfather in 1882.
Dad often spoke of his childhood, getting up to all sorts of mischief, and he and his brothers took great delight in playing tricks on their sisters, mother and grandmother.
He would tell us how his parents would go to town and when they arrived home they would find all the chooks lying by the side of the road, seemingly dead. They were in fact hypnotised – a skill perfected by Dad and his brothers.
The first school he attended was Brooklyn Provisional School, located just over the fence from Thornside homestead.
When this school closed, Dad was sent off to Gympie to continue his education at the Christian Brothers College.
In 1948 the hospital where Dad was born was converted to a boarding house for the college, and Dad and Fabian were among the first boarders to move in.
This was where Dad developed lifelong friendships with many people who are here today.
That same year, Dad’s father died, when Dad was just 16. His mother bravely carried on raising the family of eight children and they all went on to make her a very proud mum.
In his twenties Dad wanted to try something new, and took a job in Brisbane working in an insurance office.
This lasted only for a short time however, as the lure of the bush was too great, and he soon returned to Thornside.
Dad worked the land alongside brothers Billy, Claver, Fabian and Berard, grazing cattle at Thornside in between singing engagements and tours.
In the late ’50s the family bought a property at Borumba, near Imbil.
They would take it in turns to go over there to muster and look after the place. Dad spoke of many hours playing the guitar – and 500 – with his brothers.
Dad met a beautiful young Julia McDougall in 1963, introduced by Dad’s sister Gay and Mum’s aunt Doreen, who were neighbours in Ashgrove, Brisbane.
They hit it off instantly, and were later married in Miles, Mum’s home town, in 1965.
Dad and Mum had a wonderful marriage. They did everything together and devoted their lives to raising their girls to be good and respectful people.
Gympie first heard of the Webb Brothers in about 1952, as a quintet comprising Fabian, Dad, Berard, and older brothers Bill and Claver.
In 1954, The Webb Brothers auditioned for the Australian Amateur Hour and won their heat, which resulted in a broadcast of their music on 4BK. There followed a recording contract – and the rest, as they say, is history.
During their musical career, Dad and his brothers toured New Zealand and Australia, won two Golden Guitars at Tamworth, had their handprints in the Hands of Fame at Tamworth and were inducted into Tamworth’s Roll of Renown.
I also remember the great excitement when Dad called from Sydney to say they’d signed a record deal with RCA records for “Roo in the Stew”.
It took Dad one day and most of the night to write this song, and when released just nine days later, it was the fastest selling single ever recorded by RCA.
Dad’s music also enabled us to meet some great people – I clearly remember our lunch with Slim Dusty, Slim’s wife Joy and Chad Morgan on the banks of Station Creek behind our house many years ago.
On a few occasions we had members of the Australian and Queensland Cricket teams camping at our property and one year when Greg Chappell fell off Dad’s motorbike and hurt his leg, Dad had to bat for him in a cricket game at Widgee. Dad loved that!
In 1982, Dad and his brothers opened the gates of Thornside to celebrate the dual milestones of the property’s centenary and the 25th anniversary of the band performing and recording country music.
Who could ever have imagined the event would grow to what it is today – the Gympie Music Muster.
We could go on forever talking about Dad.
The best part of his life is that he had no regrets. His was a life well lived, lived in full ‘til the end.
The thing that we are most grateful for is that he has left behind an amazing legacy, and he will always live on in his music. All we need to do is put on one of his songs to hear him speak to us and for that we will be forever grateful.
Marius Webb died aged 82 in a Brisbane hospital on April 20. About 350 people attended his Thanksgiving Mass on April 29 before he was laid to rest in Gympie Cemetery.