Acknowledgement of Country

The NFSA acknowledges the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples as the Traditional Custodians of the lands and waterways across Australia. 

We pay respect to their Elders, past and present. 

My fans have made me. And I love every single one of them!

John Farnham

Navigating the Exhibition

You can navigate through this exhibition using the dots and chapter headings left of screen.

The arrow controls at bottom left and right of screen allow you to move back and forward between slides within each chapter.

You can also use the arrow keys on your keyboard to navigate.

We hope you enjoy our John Farnham: The Voice online exhibition!

Make a Noise and Make it Clear!

Three Decades of 'You're The Voice' Live

It's the protest song that has become one of the most loved and iconic anthems in Australian music. To this day, it can unite a crowd in song, from concert halls and football stadiums to the local pub.

Johnny Farnham... this guy is just too much for the human mind.

Dick Williams (Host of 'Hit Scene', 1969)

'Couldn't We Please See More of Johnny Farnham?'

Audience Favourite

This compilation of TV appearances from the late 1960s and early '70s speaks volumes about John's popularity. He regularly appeared on shows like 'Uptight', 'Happening', 'Hit Scene' and 'Musical Cashbox'.

Plumber's Apprentice to Pop Sensation

A Music Idol for a Generation of Teens

Here’s an engaging look at 18-year-old John and his adoring fans in scenes reminiscent of Beatlemania. It captures his own teenage innocence and awkwardness, while also revealing an entertainer who is totally at ease on stage.

'The World of Johnny Farnham'

At Home With The King of Pop

John is filmed at home with his family in this fly-on-the-wall TV special. This terrific clip contrasts a typically suburban 1970s home life with John's public persona and screaming fans.

Three Years Running!

Liberace Crowns the King of Pop

World-famous pianist Liberace presents the third of five consecutive King of Pop Awards to John in 1971. In this thoroughly enjoyable clip Liberace provides some comic moments with host Johnny Young, as he eyes off John's crown.

The Ideal Host for 'Ideal Fun Day'

A Natural Talent for Live Entertainment

This footage from Seven's 10-hour marathon 'Ideal Fun Day' is a great example of John's ease in front of the camera. At only 21 years of age he is very comfortable at keeping the live broadcast moving along.

Musical Influences and Being Discovered

Early Memories... In His Own Words

In this early 1970s interview with John Farnham, he talks about his musical influences, singing as a boy in England, and being discovered while playing with his first band. Courtesy Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.

He's a natural... It's pretty rare, people like him don't grow on trees.

John Waters

'Home and Away'

John Farnham in Summer Bay

John Farnham played himself in two 'Home and Away' episodes from 1988. The long-running soap was only in its first year so having a cameo from as big a star as John would have been a great coup.

'Bobby Dazzler'

John Lands a '70s Sitcom

In the mid-'70s John starred as Bobby Farrell, a young singer on the verge of a breakthrough, in the Crawford Productions sitcom 'Bobby Dazzler'. This clip is a good example of his natural comedic timing and ability to hold his own with seasoned actors.

'It's Magic'

Hamming It Up with Colleen Hewett

In 1974 John hosted a musical variety show with Colleen Hewett. The two hosts also played five-year-olds in a weekly sketch called 'The Kids'. This delightful clip shows off their versatility as we see them at their comedic best.

'Division 4'

John Plays an Unlucky Thief

In a guest appearance in the Crawford Productions drama 'Division 4', John makes the most of his scenes playing a bumbling thief, once again proving his versatility and that he can hold his own among more experienced actors.

'The Last of the Australians'

Battling the 'Demon Dust'

John’s guest spot in this '70s Crawford Productions sitcom, opposite Alwyn Kurts, sees him play a vacuum cleaner salesman. He fittingly hams it up, in keeping with the tenor of the scene, and shows impressive acting chops.

'Caravan Holiday'

John Meets the Young Talent Team

Although only a brief sequence in this promotional film, we still get to see John's capable acting skills when he plays himself alongside the Young Talent Team. It's another example of how comfortable he is in front of a camera delivering lines.

'Fancy Nancy' Cinema Advertisement

The Voice of Fanta

John lent his voice to several late 1960s and early '70s ad campaigns, including this memorable one for Fanta soft drinks. 'Fancy Nancy' weaves together psychedelic animation sequences with live action and a catchy jingle.

There was a lot of excitement happening. There was a buzz about him... and it's still there.

Debbie Byrne

Glenn Wheatley: Oral History Interview

The Turning Point

In this clip from a 2014 oral history interview for the NFSA, John's longtime manager Glenn Wheatley talks about how they turned John's career around with a new album and a new band.

From Johnny to John

Debbie Byrne on John's Career

Debbie Byrne talks about John Farnham's decision to change the direction of his music career. Byrne co-starred in the six-part ABC musical special 'Farnham and Byrne' in 1980, around the time John's album 'Uncovered' was released.

High Praise From a Hollywood Legend

John Farnham and Sammy Davis Jr

John slips easily into an intimate conversation with Sammy Davis Jr in this clip, remaining his affable self in the company of ‘entertainment royalty’. His self-deprecating humour, seen here, has endeared him to us for decades.

A New Album for a New Decade

Uncovering John Farnham

Guest host Glenn Shorrock talks with John on ‘The Mike Walsh Show’ about his new album ‘Uncovered’ and the song ‘Please Don’t Ask Me’. This is a delightfully natural interview that feels more like two friends catching up for a chat.

Little River Band Bring Christmas Cheer

Carols By Candelight

John Farnham joined LRB in 1982 and performs 'Silent Night' with band members Graeham Goble and Beeb Birtles at Carols By Candlelight. The song’s soft melody is complemented beautifully by the camera work, capturing a sea of candles in the audience.

'A Little More Mature'

Looking Back on LRB

John speaks to 2DayFM's Mike Currell in 1987 on the radio show 'Australian Made'. He talks about his 1980 album 'Uncovered' as a defining moment in his career, and his time with Little River Band.

I think John Farnham is the greatest singer alive.

Richard Marx

'It was like religion hit me'

Richard Marx Hears 'You're the Voice'

For singer Richard Marx, hearing 'You're the Voice' was like the first time he saw Elvis Presley on television. Marx and Farnham have since toured together and become good friends and Marx credits him with changing his musical life.

Glenn Wheatley: Oral History Interview

'The Power to be Powerful'

These excerpts from a 2014 oral history interview with Glenn Wheatley reveal what it took to drive 'You're the Voice' to the top of the charts and overcome the initial reluctance of FM radio to play it.

'The Voice' Takes on Europe

Whispering Jack on Tour in Germany

Current Affairs program 'Willesee' joins John on tour in Germany as the success of the 'Whispering Jack' album builds across Europe. Scenes of packed stadiums and adoring fans speak to the level of fame John was experiencing globally.

Hard Act to Follow

The Whisper Becomes a Roar!

John talks with with 2DayFM’s Mike Currell in 1987 about the the phenomenal reaction to his comeback album 'Whispering Jack', his relentless touring schedule and plans for the next album.

Whispering Jack Live

'Pressure Down'

John performs ‘Pressure Down’ to a huge Melbourne audience in 1987 during his national tour. The professionalism of this production captures John at the top of his game as a consummate live performer.

He is the most generous performer you'll ever wish to see, and he'll bleed for his audience every single time.

Glenn Wheatley

Back-to-Back Success

John Follows Up With Another Chart Topper

John was back in 1988 with the chart-topping album 'Age of Reason'. Performing the title track, backed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, he shows his commanding presence on stage. Even when handed a bouquet of flowers he never misses a beat.

Australian of the Year

John Receives the Nation's Top Honour

At the Australian of the Year ceremony in 1988, John is genuinely humbled to be receiving his award. Holding back tears, he struggles to make a speech in a remarkable moment from a man we are used to seeing totally at ease.

The Consummate Performer

Behind the Scenes of 'Superstar'

John takes us behind the scenes of 'Jesus Christ Superstar' with his fellow cast members, who confirm what we have come to believe: John is a generous, down-to-earth individual with a high degree of integrity and professionalism.

Christmas in Dili

Entertaining the Troops

John happily banters with hosts John Doyle and Greig Pickhaver (Roy & HG) then sings 'That's Freedom' at a fundraising concert in East Timor. Despite the challenging circumstances, the production of the live performance is exceptional.

50th Birthday Party

Tom Jones Crashes John's Party

Superstar Tom Jones makes a surprise appearance at John's 50th birthday concert to sing 'Happy Birthday'. This clip is a great example of John’s ability to appear totally natural as he plays up the spontaneity of the moment.

Back in the Studio

Making a Number One Album

This TV special takes us into the recording studio with John and his band as they record the '33 1/3' album. Filming in black-and-white emphasises the fly-on-the-wall aspect as we share in the fun, and frustration!

Fun Facts

John Farnham hosted the first colour episode of Countdown on the ABC in March 1975.
The drum sound that opens ‘You’re The Voice’ was actually a recording of a car door being slammed in a garage.
The bagpipes in ‘You’re The Voice’ were inspired by AC/DC's ‘Long Way to the Top’

The Awards Just Keep on Coming!

And The Winner Is...

20 ARIA Awards, 14 Mo Awards, 10 Logies, 5 King of Pop Awards, 4 Countdown Awards... John has won almost every music and entertainment industry award in Australia. Here are a few from our collection.

Looking for more Farnesy?

Discover more John Farnham in our curated collections.

You'll find interviews, TV appearances, live performances, audio clips, posters, documents and

photographs from a career spanning more than five decades.


Our very special thanks go to John Farnham and Glenn Wheatley, without whom this exhibition would not have been possible.

The NFSA would also like to acknowledge the Seven Network, Network Ten, Nine Network, Sony Music Australia, Bauer Media Group, Clearvoice Pty Ltd, Crawford Productions, Hayden Enterprises, Lewis Young Productions, LKN Productions, Milton Hammon and Southern Cross Austereo.

  • Exhibition Producer: Mel Bondfield
  • Multimedia Producer: Rachael Priddel
  • Curatorial: Bronwyn Barnett, Simon Smith, Maryanne Doyle, Chris Arneil, Sean O'Brien, Jenny Gall, Ashlinn Harty
  • Additional copy: Adam Blackshaw
  • Design elements: Cameron Emerson-Elliott
  • Video Services: Terry Stuetz, Andrew Boyer, Richard Vorobieff
  • Document Photography: Darren Weinert
  • Licensing and Rights: Bronwyn Dowdall, Anna Yates