COUNTRY music legend Lee Kernaghan was living at home with his parents in his late 20s and working at a piano bar in Lavington, Albury, on the NSW-Victorian border, when he got his big break.
He wrote smash hit Boys From The Bush in late 1991 at his mum and dad's Dallinger Road place on a hire-purchase piano.
He was working nearby in the piano bar at the Siesta Motel's Bullring Restaurant.
"I had a regular gig three or four nights a week playing cocktail music," he said.
"I was also calling bingo at The Commercial Club; I was very adept at giving away microwave ovens in between gigs!
"I was pretty well broke and I had to live with mum and dad because financially I couldn't survive off a music career alone."
Kernaghan said he wrote his debut album, The Outback Club, on a shoestring.
"I presented it to all of the record companies in Australia and they didn't feel it had a commercial market," Kernaghan said.
"But luckily Meryl Gross had just taken over at ABC Music Records and she called to say they were going to sign me."
Teaming up with record producer and former member of pop group Sherbet, Garth Porter, Kernaghan said Porter encouraged him to write about things he knew on The Outback Club.
"I was a 27-year-old living in regional Australia, writing about my mates and family," he said.
"It happened to resonate with lots of other people living in regional Australia, especially the (NSW) Riverina."
Now living in Queensland with his wife Robyn McKelvie, with whom he has two sons, Jet, 21, and Rock, 19, Kernaghan said music was part of his makeup.
"Music is in my DNA," Kernaghan said.
"It didn't matter if it was a wedding, anniversary or divorce, it was always a reason to break out a song in my family."
This year Kernaghan released The Very Best of Lee Kernaghan - Three Decades of Hits, which coincides with the 30th anniversary of The Outback Club.
"It's been an amazing ride, three decades of music making, song writing, recording and singing songs about the people and the country that I love," he said.
Last month he released a 23-track live concert event - Live at the Deni Ute Muster.
The album showcases his headline set at the iconic event's 21st anniversary.
"There is nothing like the Deni Ute Muster anywhere in the world," he said.
"I had dreamt of having a live album; if it was going to be anywhere, it had to be there!
"Around 20,000 Ute Muster fans had come from all over Australia to be there and the atmosphere on stage and out in the audience was electric!"
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Kernaghan said he was at the inaugural Deni Ute Muster.
"There were no rules," he said.
"To be honest, I kind of encouraged that; it was a pretty wild show!
"Then somebody stole my guitar off the stage; someone on the gate recognised it on their seat on the way out: 'They said: Hey, that's Lee's guitar!' So they handed it back."
With 14 studio albums under his belt, Kernaghan has sold more than 2 million albums in Australia and had 40 number 1 hits on the Australian Country Charts.
In 2004, he was the recipient of an Order of Australia Medal and was named the 2008 Australian of the Year for his service outback and regional communities.
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