on all cylinders
Jimmy Barnes has come back from surgery with a song in his heart, writes Darren Devlyn
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.’’