He's the first entertainer to be bestowed Newcastle's Freeman of the City and the celebration was certainly fitting to that job title.
Fletcher's Phil Mahoney became the 16th recipient of the lifetime achievement award at Newcastle City Hall on Friday in recognition of his numerous contributions to charities, entertainment and even the meat industry.
In fact there's not much Mr Mahoney hasn't done.
He mentored homegrown international country music star Morgan Evans and Derek Redfern of Young Talent Time fame, introduced The Wiggles on stage for their first concert and performed on P&O cruises.
He raised the first funds for The Calvary Mater hospital's oncology clinic, and has done charity work for Camp Quality, the Australian Heart Foundation, No Kids Hungry Australia, Black Dog Institute, Melanoma Institute, and Foster Carers Association.
Throughout the 1970s and '80s he worked as a Commonwealth Meat Inspector, changing the way the industry responded to zoonotic diseases, such as Q-Fever, brucellosis, and leptospirosis. He said at the time meat workers were becoming very ill, which doctors were writing it off as a virus but through the Newcastle Herald, he raise awareness of how badly the sick workers were being treated and how serious the zoonotic diseases were.
But despite all this, Mr Mahoney describes all of his contributions as "a challenge rather than a chore".
"I never expected to receive anything for anything I do," he said. "I love doing it.
"When I look back on a lot of those things that I've done, I've always tried to help people in any field really. So I feel very proud of them all."
He said he had sourced inspiration throughout his life from John F. Kennedy's presidential inauguration address in 1961.
"When he said, 'Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country' - I'll always remember that and try to live up to this statement," Mr Mahoney said.
Mr Mahoney said he actually started his singing career in city hall at eight-years-old.
"My sister Stella asked me would I sing at the Swing Into Spring fashion parade," he said. "That's where I started and I'm still going.
"I don't do as much now myself, but if anything comes up I never knock anything back. I'm still doing my fundraising."
He's also still managing Derek Redfern, who performed at Mr Mahoney's award ceremony on Friday. Redfern had the crowd clapping along - even finishing with All My Loving complete with four audience members donning sparkly hats and leading the song.
Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said Mr Mahoney's application was a "standout".
"I'm very privileged to meet so many wonderful people," she told the crowd. "But every now and again, you get a real gem.
"I believe it was your son that sent in your application for this award. And it was a real standout... when we looked at the breadth of the work that Phil has done."
Try a Little Kindness - The Phil Mahoney story
540 A4 colour pages
Many stories about Newcastle racing, sport and entertainment
Cost - $40 (plus $20 postage if ordering delivery option).
Proceeds donated to Camp Quality.
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"Try a Little Kindness" is the remarkable story of a boy from humble beginnings who went on to achieve his dream of being a successful entertainer. Along the way, Phil Mahoney has worked with his childhood heroes – Smoky Dawson, Slim Dusty, Chad Morgan and many others. He also achieved success in other fields, as a shopping centre manager, union secretary, horse & greyhound trainer, advertising executive and magazine editor & publisher. But Phil never forgot his mother’s example of showing kindness to those in need by lending a helping hand along the way to other people and charities.
“I know you’ve been a huge supporter of mine from day one and I’ll always be grateful for that. Thank you for everything you’ve done in Newcastle and around Australia”. – Morgan Evans, international country music star.
“Phil is a treasure in the world of entertainment”. - Rex Dallas, multi-Golden Guitar winner and inaugural Country Music Hall of Fame inductee.
“Without Phil’s spirit of enterprise, great management, and unassailable enthusiasm for local music and talent, I wouldn’t have had such a great career in music”. -Tom Kennedy, Australian pianist.
“Phil Mahoney is a true force of nature”. - Lindsay Young, Newcastle media personality.
“Phil is one of the most thoughtful, honest, responsible and supporting people I have ever known”. – Ron Knight, Las Vegas headlining vocalist.
Sales of this book help Camp Quality support kids facing cancer. Because every day, two Aussie families are given the heartbreaking news that their child has cancer.
Phil Mahoney is an Australian entertainer, song writer and live show producer. Since 1970, he has performed with and produced shows for Slim Dusty, Chad Morgan, Smoky Dawson, Buddy Williams, Auriel Andrew, Rex Dallas, Reg Lindsay, Jimmy Little and many other country performers. Since 1992, he has run The Australian Country Music Stars of Fame Exhibition.
Phil created, hosted and produced the Hunter Valley's first and longest running live club country show, "The Happy Hoedown Show" at Shortland RSL from 1981. The show featured a backing band with multi-Golden Guitar winner "Rex Dallas and the Dallas Cowboys".
Song writer and recording artist
After Luskin Star won the 1977 Golden Slipper, the horse's part-owner John Balcombe asked Phil and another Newcastle musician Princess Chic Murangi to write a song in the horses honour.
The resulting track, "The Luskin Star Song" was recorded by famous Australian race caller Johnny Tapp on M7 Records in Sydney in late 1977.
In 1993, Phil recorded a tribute to Newcastle Pharmacist Dr Colin Glass, who served the Newcastle community from 1934 to 1992. The song was titled "Shattered Glass", composed by Anthea Keys and has now been inducted into the National Library of Australia for cultural and historical significance,
Vocalist and drummer
After fronting a number of bands in the 1970's, Phil went on to be lead singer in "Blackstone Myth". The band is regarded as a pioneer of tribute bands as they were one of the first Newcastle acts to perform full sets of Beach Boys, Beatles, Elvis and other popular 50's and 60's acts. At its peak, the band was so popular that they attracted a write up in Molly Meldrum's TV Week Column "Meldrum's Humdrum" and was also invited to perform on ABC TV's "Countdown" program.
In 2013, Phil performed on the Tribute to the Stars of Country Music Show at the Tamworth Country Music Festival with Australia's Got Talent star Wayne Rogers.
Since 1992, Phil has run The Australian Country Music Stars of Fame Exhibition.
This started as a physical exhibition at Wallsend Plaza Shopping Centre in Newcastle where Phil was Centre Manager from 1991 to 1996.
The exhibition saw inductions from Slim Dusty, Chad Morgan, Smoky Dawson, Auriel Andrew, Reg Lindsay, Jimmy Little and many other country performers and is now an online Facebook exhibition.
In 1981, Phil created and starred in “The Captain Kid Family Fun Show”, which went on to have a 37 year run and become Australia’s longest running kids show, appearing at every major club, shopping centre and festival in NSW as well as being booked for 28 shows aboard P&O Cruises and also being booked on several tours in outback NSW as far west as Bourke Bowling Club and up north to Lightning Ridge Bowls Club.
Venue highlights include Manly Golf Club, Castle Hill Country Club, Ryde-Eastwood League, The Evan Theatre at Penrith Panthers, Newport Beach Yacht Club, Mingara Recreation Club, Wests Leagues New Lambton, Australian Bicentennial Exhibition plus many more major venues across the state.
Other shows Phil created include: Wallaby Jack's Australian Fun Show, Coca Cola Putting on the Hits, The Milky Bar Kids Show, Twisties Super Fun Show and Kellog's Coco Pops Show.
Into the 2000's, he has continued performing his country and children's shows across regional NSW.
In 1981, Phil was appointed an Advertising Executive of Newcastle Star, where he built up the entertainment section from 1 to 10 pages and created the Newcastle Star Music Awards, allowing local musicians to meet professionally for the first time and receive recognition. In 1982, he created and edited the On The Green Bowls Magazine, which is still publishing each month some 40 years later.
Shopping Centre Management
In the 1980's, Phil reinvented the marketing for Stockland Jesmond, helping the centre become successful through clever promotions and advertising.
In the 1990's he was Centre Manager of Wallsend Plaza Shopping Centre,
As a result of Phil’s marketing achievements and extensive community involvement, Wallsend Plaza was awarded the 1995 Australia Day Council Newcastle Shopping Centre of the Year Award. Wallsend Plaza was the first shopping centre in Australia to win this award, beating much larger rivals such as nearby Charlestown Square and Westfield Kotara.
As John Beville, Managing Director of Bevillesta Pty Ltd, recalls: "During Phil Mahoney's time as Centre Manager of Wallsend Plaza (1991 - 1996), pedestrian flows more than doubled and the centres Moving Annual Turnover increased by 67%. Wallsend Plaza is now regarded as one of the Hunter Valley's best centres and was awarded Newcastle Shopping Centre of the Year by the Australia Day Council in 1995. We wish Phil every success for the future".
Charity work and social justice initiatives
*Hunter Hero Award, 2017 from The Newcastle Herald. Awarded for being involved with fundraising initiatives in the city of Newcastle for four decades – raised the first dollar for the Newcastle Oncology clinic in the mid-1970s, and eventually went on to convince NBN Television that it should host a telethon to secure the much-needed service in 1979.
*In 1977, Phil fought a public campaign for better health testing for Australian meatworkers, eventually having it mandated that blood testing occurs if a worker presents with flu like symptoms.
*Camp Quality Award 1990 for voluntary performances of children's shows "The Captain Kid Family Fun Show" and "Wallaby Jack's Australian Fun Show".
*National Heart Foundation Award for raising funds through Wallsend Plaza Fun Run.
*Melanoma Foundation recognition award for raising money through the Hunter Valley Festival of the Dolls.
*Australia Day Council Shopping Centre of the Year Award, 1995.
See these news articles to learn more about Phil Mahoney: