Douglas John Parkinson was born in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, on 30 October 1946.
He began singing in the choir at his Sydney primary school and continued throughout time at Narrabeen Boys’ High School.
In 1965 he formed a group with friends called Strings and Things and, in late 1966, accepted the position of vocalist with a band called The Questions, who held a residency at the Manly Pacific Hotel, a major Sydney venue.
When The Questions disbanded, Doug formed In Focus (pictured below). The group were extremely popular and made the Australian Top 10 in 1969 when they released their version of The Beatles‘ Dear Prudence as a single.
Doug journeyed to England in June 1970 to form Fanny Adams with former Bee Gees guitarist Vince Melouney who financed the group using his Bee Gees royalties, flying Parkinson and Johnny Dick to London, renting them a house and paying them a per diem while they rehearsed and recorded their self-titled album which was released in 1971.
The group returned to Australia in December 1971 but disbanded a month later. In August 1972, Parkinson launched his solo career and issued the single, Lonely.
In March 1973, he took the role of the Hawker in the Australian theatre version of The Who‘s rock opera, Tommy, alongside Daryl Braithwaite as Tommy, Linda George, Colleen Hewett, Jim Keays, Ian Meldrum (as Uncle Ernie), Billy Thorpe, Wendy Saddington, Broderick Smith and Ross Wilson. The Sydney performance was filmed and broadcast on Channel 7 in early April.
Parkinson’s debut solo album, No Regrets (May 1973), included a version of And Things Unsaid, which he had written for The Questions. Also, in 1973, he formed a big band jazz ensemble called The Life Organisation which issued six singles between 1973 and 1974.
In late 1973 Parkinson replaced Reg Livermore in the role of Herod in an Australian theatre production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
His cover version of Everlasting Love peaked at #22 in November, followed by Love is Like a Cloudy Day (May 1975) and Raised on Rock (September 1975), neither of which troubled the charts.
In 1977 and 1978, Parkinson returned to musical theatre in the stage show, Ned Kelly, portraying Kelly Gang member Joe Byrne. He then formed The Southern Star Band, with Tommy Emmanuel on guitar.
The group issued four singles, including a cover version of The Spinners‘ song I’ll Be Around (January 1979), which reached #22. Renamed The Doug Parkinson Band, the group released a further seven singles from March 1981 to September 1983, including a cover version of The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore (July 1981).
Parkinson appeared in another Australian production of Jesus Christ Superstar in 1984, this time as Judas. He then concentrated on musical theatre until the early 2000s, with roles in Australian stage productions of Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1989 -1990); The Hunting of the Snark (1990); Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story (1991-1992) – as the Big Bopper; Grease (1998) – as Vince Fontaine; Happy Days – The Arena Mega Musical (1999), and The Wizard of Oz (2002) – as the Cowardly Lion.
He continued performing in cabaret and clubs and recording and was in constant demand for TV and radio jingles for adverts such as Coca-Cola, BHP, Toyota, Carlton United Breweries, Sanyo and Philips.
Doug Parkinson passed away on 15 March 2021 at home in Sydney. He was 74.