By Luke Voogt
Iconic Aussie pop singer Issi Dye had his first taste of retirement during COVID-19 – and hated it.
“It was absolutely the worst taste I’ve ever had,” the performer of 56 years said.
“I don’t play golf or fish or any of those things – I just perform. Bring on the gigs mate!”
Dye was a variety TV icon in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, appearing on The Go!! Show, Countdown and the Don Lane Show, through to Bert Newton, Kerri-Anne Kennerley and even Family Feud.
He supported some of the world’s biggest names including Roy Orbison, Ray Charles and The Beach Boys, and Australians Johnny O’Keefe and John Farnharm.
“I just turned 75 two days ago,” he said.
“I’m 75 and still rocking – I’m probably one of the only original rockers still going at the moment.”
Fittingly, O’Keefe’s hits will feature first and foremost on Dye’s playlist for his upcoming show at the Potato Shed tomorrow night.
He will also pay tribute to Elvis, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly and other legends of music who Dye grew up listening to after his parents migrated to Australia.
Dye was born Israel Dyzenhaus in Austria in 1946, less than a year after the Allies released his parents from a Nazi concentration camp at the end of World War II.
“They were very lucky to survive, that’s one of the reasons I’m here,” he said.
“They decided they were going to move to the furthest place from where the holocaust happened, which was Melbourne.”
Dye began singing as teen at local dance halls before getting his big break at 19.
“One thing led to another – I got picked up for a TV show and the rest is history,” he said.
“I was doing much more performing than studying, so I left my university degree. Before I knew it, I went from studying to touring the country.”
From his days opening for massive concerts and singing on variety TV, to cabaret and tribute shows in theatres across Australia, Dye has barely stopped since.
“To keep doing what you love for 56 years is just amazing,” he said.
But that all changed when COVID-19 hit, forcing Dye to take a long-term break for the first time in his career.
Victoria’s latest lockdown forced him into another unwilling hiatus, especially given his older audiences.
“I’ve lost another half a dozen shows over last week and the week before,” he said.
But Dye cannot wait to hit the road and get up close and personal to the Potato Shed audience again.
“People are prepared to come in and enjoy what they grew up with,” he said.
“I enjoy going out into the audience and getting them sing with me, interacting with them, telling them stories and making sure they have a fun night.”
“That stems from all the many, many cabaret shows I’ve done over the years.”
He recently had his first AstraZeneca vaccination, and hopes to stay fit and healthy to entertain crowds for many years yet.
“That’s what makes it worthwhile getting up in the morning, working hard and travelling the nation,” he said.
“The most important thing for me is to pack up the gear, travel somewhere, perform for an audience, see their smiling faces and have fun.”