Geoff Mack, composer of the tongue-twisting and widely recorded “I’ve Been Everywhere,” died Thursday (July 20) in his native Australia at the age of 94.
Mack, whose real name was Albert Geoffrey McElhinney, was born Dec. 20, 1922 in a suburb of Melbourne.
Although he wrote other songs, his crown jewel was “I’ve Been Everywhere.” Primarily a dizzyingly fast recitation of place names, it was first a hit for Australian singer Lucky Starr in early 1962.
Later that year, Canadian-American country singer Hank Snow released it with the Australian place names replaced by American ones. His version went to No. 1 on the country charts and stayed there for two weeks. It also reached No. 68 on the pop charts.
Lynn Anderson took the song to No. 16 in 1970. Other artists who recorded the standard include Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson (with Snow), Kacey Musgraves, Asleep at the Wheel and the Statler Brothers.
The song has also been customized for place names in New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Finland and elsewhere.
Mack began performing for his fellow troops in World War II and continued in Japan with the occupying forces after the war. He later performed throughout England and Germany before returning to a long musical career in Australia.