The name Jimmy Barnes is synonymous with ‘Working Class Man’, his signature tune for over 30 years. Instantly recognisable and, as you’ll see in each clip from this NFSA compilation of live performances, still able to energise and excite a crowd.
This relaxed TV interview with Nine's Mike Munro in 1995 cleverly interweaves photos of Jimmy as a child, footage of Cold Chisel's infamous 1981 TV Week Music Awards performance and memories he shares of Glasgow and migrating to Australia as a boy.
‘Nightmoves’ was late night TV’s answer to ‘Countdown’. While their production values were low, an authoritative and positive album review on the program, like this critique of Cold Chisel’s self-titled debut, carried weight in the music industry.
Vince Lovegrove recalls the early days of the band
The Uniqueness of Cold Chisel
Vince Lovegrove, Cold Chisel's band manager early in their career, talks about what set the band apart in an oral history interview he gave to the NFSA in 2010.
Cold Chisel On The Road
The Band's Early Days and Love at First Sight
In this 1995 interview with Nine reporter Mike Munro, rough and rare early footage of a Cold Chisel gig highlights Jimmy’s wild stage persona then cleverly transitions to show Jimmy the family man with his wife Jane - a calming influence in his life.
In a 2001 Max TV special, we discover how the band had to balance making enough money to support themselves with building a name and a following in order to forge their way from hard-working, niche pub-rock band to critical and commercial success.
This clip from 'Cold Chisel Last Stand' featuring producer Mark Opitz, fittingly interviewed in a recording studio, drives home that Cold Chisel would never forget where they came from or the importance of their fans.
The 1982 German tour was a critical point in Cold Chisel’s history. It was time to concede that the band was fracturing and cracks were beginning to show. However, true to form, the break-up would be on the band’s terms and they would go out on a high.
Few Australian rockers have been as universally admired and adored as Jimmy Barnes, a rasping, gravel-voiced blues belter who has come to articulate the Australian rock ethos.
'Australia's Prodigal Son of Rock'n'Roll'
The Crowd Favourite
This backstage footage is great to watch - rough, raw and unscripted, it brings the energy of the live event right to the movie screen. The concert footage also captures the charisma of a rock star in full command of his talent.
This casual interview with Troy Davies captures Jimmy's authenticity and lack of pretension – qualities that Australian fans love and connect with. It’s also a great insight into backstage goings-on at a large stadium concert.
This interview is from 1980s ‘infotainment’ show ‘Wednesday Magazine’. Although it’s awkwardly shot and edited, it showcases Jimmy's skill and professionalism as an interviewee, patiently and politely engaging with the reporter across a range of topics.
Jimmy, supported on stage by Diesel, shows off his versatility to a hometown crowd in Port Adelaide on NYE 1996. Filling in the moments before the countdown to midnight, he is funny, engaging and playful and seems to be having as much fun as the crowd.
This clip symbolises Jimmy’s career coming full circle. In ‘Soul Deeper… Songs From The Deep South’ he recalls a key moment from childhood when he realised he could play music that he had a real passion for, just like the R'n'B singers who inspired him.
Jimmy's relentless touring schedule following the release of 'Soul Deeper... Songs From The Deep South' in 2000 included being on the road with one of his all-time favourite bands, Deep Purple, and a stint with Bon Jovi.
This short clip perfectly captures an icon of the music industry genuinely wanting to help those in need, with little interest in self-promotion. Jimmy's integrity and authenticity really shine through here.
At a time when misinformation had created much fear and prejudice around AIDS, Jimmy recognised a cause in need of support and threw his star power behind efforts to raise money for AIDS research at the 1990 World AIDS Day ‘Shop Until You Drop’ event.
This clip shows the camaraderie that existed within the music industry at the time of this benefit, as the cream of Australia's music talent came out to honour the 'Stars' singer-songwriter who died in 1980, and to raise funds for cancer research.
In a brief news clip Jimmy reveals a personal connection with Canberra as he’s invited to plant a flame tree at the National Arboretum in 2011, and he explains his eagerness to support this local initiative that arose from the 2003 Canberra bushfires.
In 'Down to Earth' (1989), a documentary produced by Network Ten, Jimmy joined a cast of high-profile celebrities to push a strong environmental message during a time of increasing public awareness about the human impact on the planet.
Recording 'Hurt' for The Buttery Rehab Organisation
Jimmy’s recording of the song ‘Hurt’ in 2008 is yet another example of his altruism - being recorded specifically to raise money for The Buttery. The lyrics in their entirety tell a tale of self-realisation, despair and the consequences of addiction.
Doing It For The Kids
Raising Funds for The Children's Hospital
Jimmy performs at the MCG to celebrate 25 years of Mushroom - Australia’s premier record label. Proceeds from 'The Concert of the Century' were donated to the Children's Hospital and the concert itself shows Jimmy at his energetic and electrifying best.
This Max Sessions clip from 2007 gives a glimpse into Jimmy’s family life with behind-the-scenes footage added into this warm and engaging interview. He’s earnest and sincere when talking about his family and, as always, reveals no ‘rock star’ posings.
This segment from ‘Mornings’ is fun to watch, not least for Sonia Kruger doing her best to keep up with the lively and endearing father-son banter. The inclusion of intimate family photos adds to the interest.
Jimmy and Mahalia perform a passionate rendition of this NRL anthem at the 2001 Grand Final. There is a real sweetness to this clip, as the cameras manage to catch Jimmy’s proud, beaming smiles when he watches his daughter singing.
The live concert editing in this clip from ‘Live At The Port, NYE 1996’ deftly captures the mood of this song and the bond between John Swan and Jimmy as the camera slowly pans over the crowd and back to the brothers performing a soul classic.
This 2007 Max Sessions clip captures Jimmy’s versatility. With his kids behind him on stage, he’s in his element as singer, storyteller and proud dad in this live and intimate performance. He is thoroughly engaging and the audience is clearly captivated.
Jimmy joined his primary school choir but was asked to leave because he was too loud and didn't blend in.
Jimmy's very first band was called Tarkus. They played only a handful of live shows over a few months in early 1973.
Jimmy was offered the job of frontman for the band Van Halen after their singer David Lee Roth left in 1985.
With very special thanks to Jimmy and Jane Barnes.
The NFSA would like to acknowledge John Watson, Rina Ferris, Louise O'Malley, Mushroom Records, Liberation Music, Warner Music Australia, John McLean, Captured Live Productions Pty Ltd, Rogue Nation Pty Ltd, AIDS Trust of Australia, Rolling Stone Magazine, Seven Network, Nine Network, Network Ten and the National Rugby League.
Thanks also to John Swan, Mark Opitz and Holly Lovegrove.
Exhibition Producer: Mel Bondfield
Multimedia Producer: Rachael Priddel
Design elements: Cameron Emerson-Elliott
Licensing and rights: Bronwyn Dowdall, Anna Yates
Additional copy: Adam Blackshaw
Oral History Curator: Bronwyn Murphy
Video services: Terry Stuetz, Andrew Boyer, Richard Vorobieff
Document photography: Darren Weinert
Interviewer: Anthony O'Grady
TOO MUCH AIN'T ENOUGH?
For more on Jimmy Barnes and Cold Chisel, explore our curated collections.
You'll find rarely seen interviews, documents, live performances, audio clips, posters and photographs from a career spanning more than four decades with Cold Chisel and as a solo artist.