on all cylin­ders

Jimmy Barnes has come back from surgery with a song in his heart, writes Dar­ren Devlyn

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

Abell’s al­bum,

Fa­ther and son will com­plete per­form­ing com­mit­ments for the year when they hit the stage for a duet at Car­ols by Can­dle­light.

‘‘I’m hap­pier and health­ier (than be­fore the surgery),’’ Barnes says in that voice laced with gravel.

‘‘I stopped drink­ing ages ago and I’m try­ing to rest when I need to and pace my­self.

‘‘It (heart surgery) has not af­fected my work­load. I’m as healthy as a Mallee bull. It (surgery) was for a ge­netic heart con­di­tion, not for a heart at­tack. My heart’s not dam­aged. In 10 or 15 years they (sur­geons) will prob­a­bly do it (the pro­ce­dure) again.’’

Barnes’ life has been chron­i­cled in the book Icons Of Aus­tralian Mu­sic: Jimmy Barnes, in which he can­vasses ev­ery­thing from his rugged up­bring­ing in Glasgow to his bat­tles with booze and drugs.

‘‘I was do­ing about 10g of co­caine a day, maybe tak­ing six or eight ec­stasy (pills) and drink­ing three bot­tles of vodka,’’ Barnes said of his 1998-2002 bender. ‘‘I re­ally don’t know how I lived through it.’’

BUSSIE rock leg­end Jimmy Barnes has a re­silience that’s dif­fi­cult to fathom. Barnes has not only been through hell in beat­ing drug and al­co­hol prob­lems, last year he made a stun­ning come­back to record­ing and tour­ing within months of open­heart surgery.

Re­cov­er­ing from a pro­ce­dure to cor­rect the bi­cus­pid aor­tic valve in his heart al­lowed time for deep in­tro­spec­tion, Barnes says.

Rather than heed ad­vice to slow down, the for­mer Cold Chisel lead singer and 52-yearold fa­ther of five re­solved to pro­duce and pro­mote a new al­bum, Out in the Blue, then take on the phys­i­cal and emo­tional pu­n­ish­ment of a na­tional con­cert tour.

Barnes, said to have the hard­est-work­ing set of vo­cal cords in Aus­tralian rock, also man­aged to team with son David Camp­bell to per­form the clas­sic Righ­teous Broth­ers duet, You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’, for Camp

Good Lovin’. ARNES’ mate, ac­tor Sam Neill has said: ‘‘I think Jimmy’s thrown the demons out the back door, what­ever they were.

‘‘They’re prob­a­bly out there still, skulk­ing in the dark, in the gum trees. But they’re si­lent now. A cou­ple of years ago you couldn’t open that door more than an inch and they’d come shriek­ing back in, wreak­ing de­struc­tion and chaos. Now I reckon Jimmy would stare them down and they’d slink off, abashed.’’

Barnes, who has four chil­dren with wife Jane, says it’s im­por­tant he’s hon­est about his way­ward past. ‘‘I can give them (my chil­dren) ad­vice. They’ve seen me at my worst and my best but at same time I can’t sit there and pon­tif­i­cate or tell them what they have to do. Peo­ple have to make their own de­ci­sions.

‘‘All you can do is give them the right ed­u­ca­tion and right tools and let them make their own de­ci­sions. Peo­ple al­ways make mis­takes, not just kids. One of the great things about life is how you re­act to mis­takes.

‘‘Re­al­is­ti­cally, you can never say it (sub­stance abuse) will never hap­pen again so you have to keep your guard about you.

‘‘I’m not tempted to get in­volved with sub­stance abuse. To be com­pletely frank, I think I did enough in my ca­reer to last me for two life­times. It feels pretty good and pretty nat­u­ral to be clean.’’

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