Gay Kayler is a global icon in the entertainment industry, but behind her success as a country singer is a love story with her lifelong husband, Johnny Ashcroft. Ashcroft, also a country singer, often collaborated with Kayler throughout their careers. They were married for forty years, until his sad death in 2021 at the age of 94.
Kayler remains a notable figure among Australian country musicians, and her life and that of her loved ones continue to capture the attention of fans. Since her husband’s death, she has remained active and is known to coordinate the auctioning of their musical works and other memorabilia.
Gay Kayler was Married to Her Lifelong Husband, Johnny Ashcroft
Gay Kayler and Johnny Ashcroft were married in 1981, but their love story began much earlier. The pair met in the early 1970s while working on a country music show, and their shared passion for music quickly forged a deep bond between them.
In 1973, Kayler recorded the song Faces of Love with Ashcroft, which marked their earliest collaboration. The following year, Ashcroft starred Kayler in the first all-Australian country music show at the Sydney Opera House. Just two months later, the pair established themselves as leaders at the Australian Variety Show.
Apparently, they found out that they complemented each other as they soon launched a close professional relationship such that in 1975, Johnny wrote My Home Coming Trucker’s Coming Home for Gay to record.
Their close professional relationship soon blossomed into a personal one, and they were married in 1981, as mentioned. Kayler and Ashcroft were a true power couple in the Australian country music scene, known for their electrifying live performances and harmonious duets. They also wrote and recorded many hit songs together, including They’re a Weird Mob and Playground in My Mind.
In addition, here are some of the works they produced:
- A Song for Danny (1975)
- Just Another Long Lost Love and Little Boy Lost (1978)
- Little Boy Lost movie version (1981)
- A Tribute to Buddy (1985)
- The Cross of the Five Silver Stars (1989)
- The Fields of Athenry (1995)
- Johnny Ashcroft, Here’s To You, Australia! (2007)
…Till his Death in 2021
Having been together since 1981, news of Johnny’s death on May 19, 2021, brought to an end their lifelong love. According to the reports, Johnny who was born John Lewis Ashcroft on February 1, 1927, was 94. He is said to have died peacefully in Sydney.
Her Marriage with Johnny was a Second One for Him
Considering that Gay and Johnny were together for many decades, one would think that they never had other partners. While Gay was never married before she met Johnny, he was previously married to a New Zealand woman named Shirley Williams.
They met while he was working on Australia’s Amateur Hour and during his world tour. Johnny tied the knot with Shirley sometime in 1948. During the marriage, the pair welcomed three children: John, Tracey, and Mark.
While Johnny and Gay shared a passion for music, his first wife, Shirley, shared his interest in pursuing social justice, especially for the inclusion of Aboriginal people. According to Johnny’s webpage, he, Shirley, and their children were accepted into Sydney’s Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs as the first non-Indigenous family.
From then on, his views about colonization and the rights of Indigenous people became part of his songs.
While Johnny’s career kept expanding and he attracted much attention as one of Australia’s notable musicians, his marriage did not fare as well. Eventually, he and Shirley parted ways.
Is Gay Kayler a Mother?
According to Johnny’s website, Gay is the mother of a son named John, whom they welcomed during their marriage. As we mentioned earlier, one of Johnny’s children with his first wife, Shirley, is also named John.
Since both names are mentioned on the same website, we can reasonably assume that Johnny named two sons after himself.
In addition to her son with Ashcroft, Gay has been a stepmother to her late husband’s children for the forty years they were married. Based on their responses to her social media updates, it appears that they have a cordial relationship.
She has remained an Active Member of the Country Music Scene in Australia
The 82-year-old Gay Kayler is still enjoying the attention that a good legacy gives an icon. She started out singing in her father’s dance band, the Darling Downs, in the 1930s, and gradually built a name for herself as a television presenter, model, and philanthropist. Unsurprisingly, these activities have made her a force to be reckoned with.
Since her husband’s death, Gay has continued to command respect, most recently with her induction into the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame on May 28, 2022.