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In November this year, Australian Musician teamed up with for a readers’ poll to find out who is Australia’s and the world’s Most Respected Musician.

Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips and Noise11’s Paul Cashmere catch up via zoom to discuss the poll results, which reveal that Paul Kelly is Australia’s Most Respected Musician and the World’s Most Respected Musician is Paul McCartney.

If you’d prefer to cut to the chase, at the 9:23 mark we interview Paul Kelly about his win as Australia’s Most Respected Musician and also chat extensively about his new Christmas album ‘Christmas Train’ out now.

Paul Kelly’s Christmas Train is an extraordinary 22-song double album which travels across the centuries, from a Latin hymn to well-known carols, from a traditional Irish folk ballad to songs with an unmistakable local flavour, and a sparkling new version of one of the greatest Australian Christmas songs of them all, Kelly’s own How to Make Gravy recorded 25 years after it initial release. The sacred and the secular, the ancient and modern, all carefully woven into a collection destined to become a part of Australian Christmases for many years to come. Paul Kelly’s Christmas Train is delivered by Kelly and his band with a big cast of Christmas helpers including vocalists Marlon Williams, Waleed Aly, Lior, Emma Donovan, Kasey Chambers, Kate Miller-Heidke, Vika & Linda Bull, Alice Keath, Sime Nugent, Alma Zygier, Emily Lubitz, Jess Hitchcock and Dhungala Children’s Choir, and contributions from the Kelly clan including nephew and band-mate Dan, siblings Mary-Jo and Tony and Paul’s daughters Maddy and Memphis Kelly.

Paul Kelly’s Christmas Train is out now through EMI Music and is available HERE now.

Our 2021 poll to find out who is Australia’s and the world’s Most Respected Musician has been run and won and we’re pleased to present the winners:

PK pic by Michael Hill

Australia’s Most Respected Musician

1 Paul Kelly
2 Tommy Emmanuel
3 Angus Young


4 John Farnham
5 Ian Moss
6 Jimmy Barnes
7 Nick Cave
8 Ash Naylor
9 Keith Urban
10 John Butler

About the winners

No surprises here, Paul Kelly is a national treasure and one of our greatest songwriters and performers. Prolific and poetic, everyone has a favourite Paul Kelly tune. Kelly documents Australian life and history like no other. From St Kilda to King’s Cross, Adelaide, Leaps and Bounds, Incident on South Dowling, Maralinga (Rainy Land), Randwick Bells, Sydney from a 747. There’s the bus ride though the cane in To Her Door. A song about our greatest cricketer, Bradman. The Ballad of Queenie and Rover, about Aboriginal artists Queenie McKenzie and Rover Thomas. These are Australian stories, our stories, told by an artist who loves his country but is not afraid to point out our foibles and failures too. As his upcoming sold out Christmas shows attest, he’s as popular now as he’s ever been. Paul Kelly is also looked up to, admired and need we say … ‘Respected’ by other musicians too as our poll results show, with 81% of voters also being musicians. With the release of his new Christmas album, Christmas Train, which happens to be album number 28 for Paul, it further confirms his standing as one of Australia’s greatest ever music artists.

Tommy Emmanuel came in a close second to Kelly and again, is another performer who has bared his heart and soul through his music for decades and continues to mesmerise audiences worldwide with his guitar skills and amiable stage personality. The first thing that people will point out about Tommy, predictably, is his extraordinary guitar playing. Considered by those in the know to be among this planet’s greatest guitarists, his playing is simply miraculous, as it would take three musicians, or more, to do what Tommy does solo. Who else, for example, when playing “Day Tripper,” can lay down the rhythm part, dig into the riff and sing the melody all at once on just one acoustic guitar? Then there’s the other aspect of his music which is always mentioned, and without which the first might not be as powerful or as infectiously appealing: the joy. Because it’s one thing to play these multi-dimensional arrangements flawlessly on an acoustic guitar. But to do it with that smile of the ages, that evidence of authentic, unbridled delight, is an irresistible invitation to feel his music as deeply as he does.

AC/DC may have left our shores years ago to become an international music juggernaut but we’ve never forgetten the band and their guitar dynamo Angus Young, regarded globally as one of the best electric guitar players to ever take to the stage. With 81% of the voters being musicians and 80% of those being guitarists, it stands to reason that Angus feature high in the poll. From the band’s first single “Can I Sit Next To You”, and their debut album  “High Voltage” and subsequent mega selling albums. “Highway to Hell” “Back in Black”, and “For Those About to Rock We Salute You”, Angus and his band have become one of the biggest bands in the world. They’ve won a Grammy and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but personally and musically they’ve stuck to their guns and never changed. Angus will forever be known for his energetic performances, incredible guitar skills, the schoolboy-uniform stage outfits and his own version of Chuck Berry’s duckwalk.

Most Respected Musician – International

1 Paul McCartney
2 Dave Grohl
3 Bruce Springsteen


4 Eric Clapton
5 Jimmy Page
6 Bob Dylan
7 Elton John
8 Brian May
9 David Gilmour
10 Slash

About the winners

Maybe it was the pre-viewing anticipation of the Disney channel’s documentary on The Beatles or perhaps it’s just pure enduring admiration for one of the world’s greatest songwriters but Paul McCartney picked up almost 25% of the vote to win World’s Most Respected Musician. As half of one of music’s most successful writing collaborations, Lennon and McCartney, they wrote an amazing number of songs which have gone on to become classics. As a solo artist, McCartney continued his reign as one of the greats. With some 60 gold records and sales of more than 100 million singles in the course of his career, McCartney is arguably the most commercially successful performer and composer in popular music. Adding to his respect, McCartney is a strong advocate of vegetarianism and animal rights and is engaged in active campaigns to relieve the indebtedness of less-developed countries, to eliminate land mines, and to prevent seal culling.

Being a member of two of rock’s most important bands, Nirvana and The Foo Fighters goes a long way to gaining kudos. Rarely in the history of rock has a musician switched bands and instruments simultaneously with such a high degree of success as Grohl. He was also the co-founder of the rock super group ‘Them Crooked Vultures’ in which he was a drummer and backing vocalist. Grohl plays several other instruments, including acoustic guitar, bass guitar, electric guitar, and piano. Additionally, Dave seems to be one of rock ’n’ roll’s nice guys, often going above and beyond for his fans. His band ‘Foo Fighters’ has performed at a number of charity events, including ‘Citizen Festival,’ ‘Concert for Sandy Relief,’ etc. Grohl is a supporter of gay rights. In 2009, he was honored with the key to his hometown of Warren, Ohio. He also has a roadway named after him, ‘David Grohl Alley’ where murals of him have been painted.

The Boss, Bruce Springsteen has always been an Australian favourite and his tours sell out quicker than most. He’s a man of his word, a storyteller and someone who sticks to his convictions. Springsteen’s appeal has not only been about his unique and creative songwriting talent but also his ability to connect deeply with his audience through his songs and high energy stage performances, which have been known last for 3 or 4 hours. Most of his songs reflect his political opinions and his working-class roots in New Jersey, where he grew up. He is a positive thinker; he sees greatness in the labours of daily American life and is stimulated by the stories of ordinary people.

About the survey
Presented by both and Noise, the survey was set up so that a person could only vote once. Although the title of the survey is Most Respected Musician, we did allow singers in the mix as we see the voice as an instrument. Also we feel that the word musician encompasses the skills of writing, recording and performing. It was interesting to note that 81% of the voters were musicians themselves, making it very much a peer voted poll. Of those 81%, 80% were guitarists, 14.2% bass players, 12% vocalists, 9.1% keyboard players, 7.9% drummers and the rest considered ‘other’ instrumentalists.

As an incentive to vote, we offered some great prizes and the winners of those are:

FENDER Player Plus Stratocaster -Tequila Sunrise (RRP $1,999)
Robbie Warren, QLD

BOSS JHS JB-2 Angry Driver Pedal (RRP $399)
Eric Prentice, VIC

AMPEG merchandise pack
Includes Ampeg black hoodie ($74.99 RRP), Ampeg cap ($52.99 RRP) and Ampeg mug ($31.99 RRP).
Shane Richmund, WA

Thanks for voting and thanks to Fender, Roland and Yamaha Music Australia for the prizes

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