Country singers’ ashes flushed and put in rhythm shaker

Writing a hit song is a creative process for any musician. So it comes as no surprise to hear of the unusual, yet innovative, ways the ashes of two country singer/songwriters have been scattered.

Sharing stories around a fire during a Facebook live concert this week, Bill Chambers, father of well known Kasey Chambers, spoke about what happened to the ashes of good friend Audrey Auld.

Audrey, a Tasmanian musician based in Nashville, was 51 when she died of cancer in 2015.

Bill describes her as “an unforgettable character”. She was described in one record review as “sweet voiced but tart-tongued and no nonsense”.

Bill Chambers and Audrey Auld often performed together.
FACEBOOK: Good mates Audrey Auld and Bill Chambers often performed together.

“After she passed away her husband Mez came out to Tamworth, as he often did, and he brought Audrey’s ashes will him. He gave us all a little cylinder with some ashes in it which I carry in my guitar case.”

Some of her ashes were also sprinkled in the gardens of popular Tamworth music venue and hotel, the Pub.

“But the rest of the ashes… well … Mez and I went into the women’s toilets of the Pub and flushed them down the toilet.”

“He said, ‘I’m pretty sure Audrey would be happy with this’.”

“So, you ladies, every time you take a piss there, Audrey is watching,” smiles Bill.

Bill Chamber’s recounted the story of flushing Audrey Auld’s ashes during a Facebook concert this week. Scroll to the 56th minute to listen.

Another late songwriter may not be able to perform in person anymore but he’s still making music on stage.

Some of the ashes of Man in the Picture songwriter, Garry Koehler of The Bobkatz, have been put in a shaker and have become part of the rhythm section.

Garry died of cancer last year, aged 64.

The Bobkatz were country music festival favourites and won national awards at Mildura and received nominations for Golden Guitar awards in Tamworth.

Speaking on ABC’s Saturday Night Country, Garry’s bandmate Rob Mackay admitted that Garry was still playing in the band. Kind of.

“He was an amazingly understated percussionist, so his daughter Sarah put a bit of dad in a shaker and brought him on stage.

“It was the best idea!”

Sarah Koehler said she had the idea when she went into her father’s room after he had died.

“I saw it and thought ‘I need to put a bit of dad in that!’

YOUTUBE: The Man in the Picture, a song written by the late Garry Koehler. Some of his cremated remains are now kept in a shaker.

ABOUT THE BLOGGER: Lisa Herbert is a journalist, death literacy advocate and author of The Bottom Drawer Book: an after death action plan, an informative and amusing workbook and funeral planning guide for those who want to prepare for the inevitable. It is available in Australia for $24.95, including postage.

Lisa Herbert is the author of The Bottom Drawer Book, a colourful funeral planning guide and workbook.

Creator’s ashes in foundations of Warwick sculpture

If you’re driving through Warwick these holidays, 130km or so west of Brisbane, this fantastic tribute to the region’s horses is worth a stop. Not only is is magnificent to see, it’s also the resting place of its designer.

It’s hard to miss. The wonderful sculpture is at the town’s entrance, on the eastern side.

After campaigning for the sculpture for 14 years, sadly John Simpson died just one month before the foundations were laid. But not only is his vision and years of work captured in the metal which pays homage to the Light Horse troop, farmers during World War I and Warwick’s famous horse sports, John Simpson is in the sculpture itself.

Horsepower: Warwick’s Story of the Horse

Some of John Simpson’s ashes are cast in its foundations.

Some of sculptor’s John Simpson’s ashes are mixed in the foundations of the Horsepower: Warwick’s Story of the Horse. Photo via:

A plaque on the sculpture, written by his daughter Fiona, reads:

“John had a dream to give the community and massive town entrance culture that could be used as an educational tool for generations and be a traffic stopper. His vision was to create a memorial to the relationship between horse and man. He wanted the sculpture to help citizens, visitors and tourists to celebrate the historic contribution of horses in the region, to pay homage to the mighty pioneers who opened up the land so that the horsemen could flourish and to appreciate how the horse is an integral part of life on the Southern Downs. Standing 15 m tall and spanning 23 m wide this was more than an artistic piece designed and drawn by John, it was also an engineering challenge. 

“Over the course of the project John Drew on all his strength, courage and determination to see it completed as he continually face health issues. Sadly he lost his fight on 26th February 2019, just one month shy of the foundations of this magnificent sculpture being laid. His ashes are buried in its foundations.

“Remembered as a passionate community member, a dynamic art teacher and loving husband, father and Grandfather, John Simpson was a man that inspired, a man worth knowing. “

Fiona Simpson (daughter), on behalf of the family.
A plaque on the monument tells the story of John Simpson.

In John’s words: “This is my legacy to art, my legacy to the equine industry, my legacy to history.”

This world class monument is a salute to the relationship between man and horse.
Because most funding grants were rejected, the local community raised the $180,000 needed to commence work on the Sculpture. Utilising expertise from the local community including steel fabricator peel tribe, John’s vision has become a reality for all to see.  It took 14 years for John, with the support of Henry Osiecki and his local community, to fund the monument.
Horsepower: Warwick’s Story of the Horse. Horses played such in important role is years gone by – the Cobb and Co coach, ploughing fields, the Light Horse, for example.

ABOUT THE BLOGGER: Lisa Herbert is a cemetery wanderer, journalist and author of The Bottom Drawer Book: an after death action plan, an informative and amusing workbook and funeral planning guide for those who want to prepare for the inevitable. It is available in Australia for $24.95, including postage (Additional postage of AU$8 is payable for overseas orders). She enjoys telling the stories of the dead because they reveal so much of our history and way of life.

The foundations of a monument in the Queensland town of Warwick contain the ashes of its designer. 
John Simpson worked for 14 years to make his "traffic-stopper" dream a reality. Sadly he died one month beofre the foundations were laid.
Blogger and author Lisa Herbert is a death literacy advocate.