Jimmy Barnes is a popular Australian rock singer.
He was born James Dixon Swan on April 28, 1956
in Glasgow, Scotland. His father Jim Swan was
a prizefighter and his older brother John Swan
is also a rock singer. His career as both a solo
performer and as the lead vocalist with the rock
band Cold Chisel has made him one of the most
popular and best-selling Australian music artists
of all time. The combination of 14 Australian
Top 40 albums for Cold Chisel and 12 charting
solo albums gives Barnes the highest number of
hit albums of any Australian artist.
arrived in Adelaide,
South Australia with his family on 7 January 1961
and they eventually settled in Elizabeth. Shortly
afterward, Barnes' parents divorced. His mother
Dorothy soon remarried, to a clerk named Reg Barnes.
After her daughter Lisa was teased by a schoolmate
about being adopted, Dorothy gave her children
the option to change their surname to Barnes.
All of them did except for the oldest brother
John, who would go on to be much better known
as Swanee, eventually recording a series of albums
under that name from the 1980s. This would later
cause confusion for Barnes and Swan. Because they
had different surnames, they were for many years
often thought to be half- or stepbrothers.
The Cold Chisel Years 1973 - 1983
took an apprenticeship in an iron smelter with
the South Australian railways in 1973 but the
love he and his brother had for music led him
to join a band. Swanee was now playing drums with
Fraternity, who had just parted ways with singer
Bon Scott. Barnes took over the role but his tenure
with the band was brief and before long he had
joined a harder-edged band called Orange, featuring
organist and songwriter Don Walker, guitarist
Ian Moss, drummer Steve Prestwich and bass player
Les Kaczmarek. Within a short time the group had
changed its name to Cold Chisel and began to develop
a strong presence on the local music scene. Barnes'
relationship with the band was often volatile
and he left several times, leaving Moss to handle
vocal duties until he returned. After a temporary
move to Armidale, New South Wales while Walker
completed his engineering studies there, Cold
Chisel moved to Melbourne in August 1976 and then
three months later shifted base to Sydney. Progress
was slow and Barnes announced he was leaving once
again in May 1977 to join Swanee in a band called
Feather. However, his farewell performance with
Cold Chisel went so well he changed his mind and
a month later the band was signed by WEA.
1980 Cold Chisel was the biggest band in Australia
and Barnes had developed a notorious reputation
as a hard-drinking wild man who reportedly drank
more than two bottle of vodka a day, much of it
onstage during performances. He was also rumoured
to be a womaniser and a myth grew that he had
had sex with over 1000 women.
in Canberra in November 1979 however, he met Jane
Mahoney (born Jane Dejakasaya, in Bangkok, Thailand,
1958) the stepdaughter of an Australian diplomat.
Mahoney had been dating Chris Bailey of The Angels
for some time but their relationship had cooled
due to his overseas touring. Barnes began a relationship
with her and they started living together but
in March 1980 she began to feel overwhelmed by
the rock lifestyle and followed her family to
Tokyo where her father was posted. Barnes wrote
the song "Rising Sun" about this, which
would appear on the album East. The pair married
in Sydney on 22 May 1981 and Jane soon gave birth
to their first child Mahalia, named after Mahalia
Jackson, on 12 July 1982. The couple now have
four children. Barnes was already the father of
a son, David Campbell, who, due to the young age
of his parents at the time of his birth, was being
raised by his grandmother. While Barnes maintained
contact with him, Campbell did not become aware
that Barnes was his father and not merely a family
friend until the mid-1980s.
singer had never been careful with money and the
increasing pressure on him to provide for his
young family caused even more tension between
him and the rest of Cold Chisel. Despite being
hugely successful in Australia, the group had
still not been able to crack the market internationally
and a disastrous tour of US in 1981 pulled them
even further apart. While the 1982 album Circus
Animals provided Cold Chisel with its second consecutive
No. 1 album, Barnes returned from the band's German
tour in 1983 virtually broke. He asked for a $10,000
advance from the band's management but was refused,
as the terms of the group's contact meant that
if one member was given such a sum, the rest of
them were entitled to the same amount. At a meeting
in August, it was decided that Cold Chisel should
split up. The group had already begun to fragment,
with Ray Arnott having replaced Steve Prestwich
earlier in the year. Sessions for the final album
were spread across different studios as various
members refused to work together but at the end
of the year The Last Stand farewell tour (with
Prestwich back in the band) became the highest-grossing
concert series by an Australian band ever. The
group's final performance was in Sydney on 12
December 1983, reportedly precisely ten years
after its original formation. The resultant film
of that show remains the best-selling live concert
film of any Australian band.
had recorded seven albums with Cold Chisel between
1978 and 1983, including two live albums (the
second of which, Barking Spiders Live 1983, was
released in 1984), and was arguably now Australia's
highest-profile rock singer.
launched his solo career less than a month after
Cold Chisel's Last Stand tour came to an end.
He assembled a band that included Arnott, former
Fraternity bass player Bruce Howe and guitarists
Mal Eastick (ex-Stars) and Chris Stockley (ex-The
Dingoes) and began touring and writing for a solo
album. Signing to Mushroom Records, Barnes released
his first solo album Bodyswerve. He was now billing
himself as Jimmy Barnes, instead of merely 'Jim
Barnes' as he had been credited during his Cold
Chisel days. The album was immediately successful,
entering the Australian charts at Number One on
8 October. This was the first of a remarkable
run of top charting albums for Barnes, as each
of his first six solo albums all debuted in the
Number One position, a feat that no other Australian
musical artist is likely to match. His list of
Number One albums now totals eleven, including
three Cold Chisel albums. His total of eight No.
1 albums as a solo performer is matched only by
comedian Billy Birmingham who, as The Twelfth
Man, has (as of 2007) an equivalent tally. The
final Cold Chisel studio album 20th Century and
the live album Barking Spiders Live were also
released in 1984. 20th Century peaked at No. 1
on 23 April.
22 December 1984, days after Barnes had begun
that year's Barnstorming tour, his second daughter
Eliza-Jane was born.
in his solo career, Barnes was determined to break
into the US market and signed to Geffen Records
for release there. His second album For the Working
Class Man was tailored in this direction, featuring
remixed songs from Bodyswerve plus five new tracks
including "Working Class Man" that was
written by Journey musician Jonathan Cain and
would become Barnes' signature tune. Several US
musicians worked on the album including Cain,
Charlie Sexton, singer Kim Carnes and British
drummer Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac. The album
was released as a double vinyl set and shifted
250,000 copies in twelve months in Australia.
Like its predecessor, For the Working Class Man
debuted on the national chart at No. 1 on 16 December
1985. It remained at No. 1 for seven weeks. Titled
simply Jimmy Barnes in the US, the album was issued
in February to tie in with the release of the
Ron Howard film Gung Ho which featured "Working
Class Man". Because of this, Gung Ho was
released as Working Class Man in Australia.
Jimmy Barnes band that toured Australia in support
of the album featured Howe and Arnott, plus keyboardist
Peter Kekell, former Rose Tattoo guitarist Robin
Riley and American guitarist Dave Amato. With
the release of the album in America, Barnes headed
off with a band of Canadian musicians hand-picked
by his North American management team and toured
with ZZ Top. It was the first time since 1981
that he had toured without his family as part
of his entourage as Jane was pregnant. Shortly
after their son Jackie (named after Jackie Wilson)
was born on 4 February 1986 she and the children
joined him in the US for the rest of the tour.
1986, Jimmy Barnes recorded two songs with INXS,
an Easybeats cover "Good Times" and
"Laying Down The Law", which he co-wrote
with INXS members Andrew Farriss and Michael Hutchence.
"Good Times" was used as the theme song
for the Australia Made series of concerts that
toured the country in the summer of 1986 - 87.
Australia Made was the largest touring festival
of Australian music talent that had ever been
attempted to that point. Barnes and INXS headlined
and the rest of the line-up featured Mental as
Anything, Divinyls, Models, The Saints, I'm Talking
and The Triffids. The shows began in Launceston,
Tasmania on 26 December and concluded in Sydney
on Australia Day, 26 January 1987. A concert film
of this event was made by Richard Lowenstein and
released later that year. "Good Times"
peaked at No. 2 on the Australian chart and several
months later was featured in the Joel Schumacher
film The Lost Boys, allowing it to chart Top 40
in the US.
"Good Times"/"Laying Down the Law"
release was the first in a long line of songs
Barnes would record with other well known singers
and artists. In 1991 he recorded a version of
"When Something is Wrong With My Baby"
with John Farnham as a single and centerpiece
track for his Soul Deep album. The following year
he released a version of "Simply The Best"
as a duet with Tina Turner that was used as the
theme song for that year's Australian Rugby League
advertising campaign. It peaked at #13 in Australia.
His 1993 album Flesh and Wood also featured several
duets, including songs with Joe Cocker, Archie
Roach, Tommy Emmanuel and a version of The Band's
"The Weight" with The Badloves.
next album release Freight Train Heart (1987)
again featured contributions from a range of US
musicians including Huey Lewis, Journey members
Randy Jackson and Neal Schon and former Babys
and Rod Stewart drummer Tony Brock, who would
later accompany Barnes on tour. The recording
process was deeply problematic however, as Barnes
fought with producer Jonathon Cain over artistic
control and Geffen Records wanted to feature a
solo by Robert Cray in the track "Too Much
Ain't Enough Love" in place of the one laid
down by Schon. In the end, Barnes claimed the
masters and returned to Sydney to rework the recording
with English producer Mike Stone. Most of the
songs were remixed, with parts added by Peter
Kekell, Rick Brewster from The Angels, and Johnny
Diesel, the 20-year old guitarist and frontman
of Perth band Johnny Diesel and the Injectors,
who had just begun to make a name for themselves.
Jon Farriss from INXS and ex-Angels bassist Chris
Bailey also played on the album. Diesel, Kekell,
Brock, Bailey and Dave Amato were kept on as Barnes'
touring band, which hit the road in November just
ahead of the release of the first single, "Too
Much Ain't Enough Love" in December, 1987.
It became Barnes' first No. 1 hit single. The
album followed the trend set by the previous two,
and debuted in the No. 1 slot on 21 December.
Train Heart found moderate success outside of
Australia and as recently as 2003 was named as
one of the top 100 rock albums of all time by
British magazine Powerplay. His problems with
Geffen during the recording process caused him
to sever his relations with them and he eventually
signed to Atlantic in 1990.
Australia, Jimmy Barnes' success remained virtually
unmatched. The Number One success of his first
three albums continued with the live album Barnestorming,
recorded during the promotional tour of the same
name and peaking at No. 1 for three weeks from
5 December. A version of the Percy Sledge standard
"When A Man Loves A Woman" lifted from
the album was a No. 3 hit. His next tour brought
controversy by being underwritten by Pepsi, which
allowed him to expand the production and increase
promotion, and at the end of the tour he made
a $25,000 donation to the Children's Hospital
in Camperdown, Sydney.
the middle of 1989, Jane Barnes went into Westmead
Children's Hospital in Sydney with pregnancy complications;
Elly-May Barnes was born almost three months prematurely
on 3 May. Her father held off all further writing
and recording until she was released from a humidicrib
several months later.
signed to Atlantic for worldwide release in mid-1990
and immediately headed into the studio with producer
Don Gehman to record Two Fires. The album featured
songwriting contributions from the likes of Desmond
Child, Diane Warren and Holly Knight and vocal
contributions from Brian Setzer, as well as from
his wife and children. Collectively known as the
Tin Lids (after Glaswegian rhyming-slang for "kids"),
the four Barnes children later recorded three
albums of their own. Two Fires had a slight funk
influence and an even more polished sound than
his previous albums but this proved no barrier
to it becoming his fifth consecutive Australian
No. 1 album.
following year he took the bold step of releasing
an album of soul covers. Barnes had long fostered
a love for soul and black music, naming his children
after influential black artists and including
songs by Sam Cooke and Percy Sledge on previous
albums. He and Gehman had discussed the idea during
the sessions for Two Fires and both had apparently
decided that it would be "a fun thing to
do". Soul Deep went on to become Jimmy Barnes'
most successful album ever, spawning the No. 3
single "When Something is Wrong With My Baby",
a duet with John Farnham. Re-releases of the album
were issued in special gatefold sleeves with embossed
gold lettering, collector cards and extra live
tracks. It remains one of the best-selling Australian
albums of all time.
1993 album Heat saw Barnes return to rock. While
described as his most interesting album, it broke
his run of Number One releases (it peaked at #2)
but did contain the hit "Stone Cold",
written by former Cold Chisel bandmate Don Walker.
It marked the first time Jimmy Barnes had worked
with any member of his old band for almost a decade.
The pair teamed up for an acoustic version of
the track for Flesh and Wood, which appeared later
the same year. Also in 1993, Barnes teamed up
with Tina Turner for a duet version of The Best
in the form of a TV promotion for rugby league's
this, in the mid-90s, Jimmy Barnes' career suffered
a slump. The singer faced financial ruin as his
music publishing company Dirty Sheet Music and
his wife's children's fashion label both went
broke. He was pursued by both the ANZ Bank and
the Australian Taxation Office for amounts exceeding
$1.3 million. The family sold their enormous property
in Bowral, New South Wales and settled for some
time in Aix-en-Provence, France, attracting some
adverse publicity when he assaulted a television
crew from Channel 7. While there, Barnes did considerable
live work throughout Britain and toured with the
Rolling Stones. His 1995 album Psyclone was virtually
ignored but in 1996 the greatest hits compilation
Hits returned Jimmy Barnes to the top of Australian
charts. It was the beginning of a comeback that
was hastened by the reformation of Cold Chisel
comeback was continued with another string of
solo releases, including a second album of soul
tunes, Soul Deeper (2000), and two live albums,
the first an acoustic performance and the second
a performance of his soul songs. He appeared live
on stage with INXS at some shows throughout Australia
between 1999 and 2001, but the reception (with
Barnes fronting the band) was not encouraging.
2004, Jimmy Barnes recorded an album with Deep
Purple guitarist Steve Morse, Uriah Heep drummer
Lee Kerslake, bass player Bob Daisley and keyboards
player Don Airey under the name Living Loud. The
self-titled album featured a number of songs originally
written and recorded with Ozzy Osbourne by Kerslake,
Daisley and Airey.
Happiness, released in July 2005, reaffirmed his
popularity, debuting at #1 on the ARIAnet Albums
Chart, his seventh album to do so. Jimmy Barnes
was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame on the
23 October, 2005 for his solo career efforts.
Coupled with Cold Chisel's previous induction,
Barnes is the only artist to be entered into the
Hall of Fame twice. 2005's Double Happiness was
a complete album of duets, including several with
his children, daughters Mahalia and Elly-May,
son Jackie and oldest son, entertainer David Campbell.
Roachford, Smoky Dawson, Ian Moss and Tim Rogers
of You Am I are among others who appear on that
album. After its initial success, it was re-released
as a double CD/DVD package featuring many of his
duets from previous albums, including those with
INXS, John Farnham, Joe Cocker and Tina Turner.
Double Happiness was followed in 2006 by karaoke
DVD version that featured many of his songs minus
the vocal track.
late 2006, Barnes became patron of the Choir of
Hard Knocks, a choral group formed by Jonathon
Welch and consisting of homeless and disadvantaged
people in Melbourne. The formation of the choir
was documented by the ABC as a five-part series
aired in May 2007. Barnes took an active part
in the teaching of the choir despite his health
problems and has even busked with them. Barnes
or a member of his extended family have regularly
performed "Flame Trees" with the Choir
at their concerts including those at Melbourne
Town Hall on 24 June and the Sydney Opera House
17 July 2007.
2007, Jimmy Barnes performed with Neil Finn at
daughter Elly-May's charity benefit for Cerebral
Palsy. The event was held at the Roxburgh Hall,
Stowe School, Stowe in Buckinghamshire, UK. The
benefit was in aid of the UK charity SCOPE, England's
largest charity working for people living with
cerebral palsy and their families. Also in 2007,
Barnes was the celebrity ambassador for the Melbourne's
longest cake project, another fundraising event
for cerebral palsy patients. He underwent heart
surgery in February and then in May, the boxed
CD set 50 was released, featuring remastered versions
of all his studio albums and a double CD of rare
tracks. The collection was limited to 5000 copies.
7 July 2007 Barnes was a presenter at the Australian
leg of Live Earth.
In August he became a regular presenter on The
Know, a pop culture program on the pay TV channel
MAX. He is also currently the presenter of the
Planet Rock program on the Austereo
September 2007 he started recording his 13th studio
album, Out In The Blue. It was released on 14
November and debuted in the ARIA chart at #3.
that year, in an interview with The Bulletin,
Barnes spoke passionatley about Australian rock
musicians saying: "Australian bands for me
will always have the grunt. Grunt is what gives
you longevity, strength, the power to believe
in yourself. We have great bands here because
they play live, they cut their teeth playing to
an interview with Andrew Denton,
Barnes revealed that a doctor told him that he
makes use of his false vocal cords rather than
his true ones when he sings.
2002 he gave up alcohol after a life-long addiction
that was exacerbated by his bankruptcy in the
mid-90s. His battle with alcohol was the inspiration
for much of the material on his 1999 album Love
January 2007, it was reported that Barnes was
to undergo open-heart surgery to replace a faulty
aortic valve, a condition he has had since birth.
He underwent successful surgery in late February
2007 and was set to begin touring in May after
recovering from the operation. In an interview
during his recovery period he claimed that apart
from his heart condition, he was in perfect health
in spite of being a heavy drinker and smoker until
2002. On May 11 2007, after a week of promotional
activity for the 50 box set that included a morning
radio shift on Triple M, Barnes was readmitted
to hospital in Sydney for a "minor procedure"
after complaining of being unwell. A planned concert
at Port Douglas in Queensland for the weekend
of May 12 was rescheduled. (Credit:
Barnes official website
Man Australia does not represent Jimmy Barnes