NOT THE RETIRING KIND
John Farnham was in Queensland, his home away from home, at a trivia night with friends last year. The musical round included a few questions about his illustrious career. There was one slight problem.
“I couldn’t answer the questions about me,” Farnham laughs. “I didn’t remember the answers so I just kind of moved along.”
Farnham is the last person to dwell on his fame, or exploit his celebrity to bank easy cash. He politely declines each time
“I actually wrote that foreword 20 years ago,” Jill, who he married in 1973.
“I was in Adelaide, working at a club as Johnny Farnham at that time, so it was a long time ago,” he says.
“Halfway through the set, Jilly went to the bathroom. There were two women preening themselves in the mirror. One was saying, ‘I can’t stand Johnny Farnham, he makes my skin crawl’. The other was saying, ‘Oh, I hate him’. This happens to Jillian occasionally. Jillian, to her credit, and God I love this woman so much, turned around and said, ‘Oh, I love him, I think he’s great’. These two women went, ‘Oh, how could you?’ and Jill just said, ‘I’m his wife!’ and left. That story is absolutely true.”
There’s no club shows these days for Farnham, and very few haters, except the tiresome “hasn’t he retired?” rants each time he announces another tour.
“People say, ‘Jesus, not again, he’s had more comebacks than Methuselah’ but I never said I was going to retire,” he patiently explains, not for the last time.
“I don’t know how to do anything else. It’s good fun, it’s not brain surgery, it’s just music and entertainment. I love it up there.”
The only thing Farnham has retired from is the limelight when he’s not on tour. He’s not up with the latest musical news. He and Jill prefer to listen to audio books on a long drive but he’ll occasionally dig through his CDs for everything from AC/DC to Pavarotti if he wants some Sunday tunes.
Farnham isn’t concerned with social media, signposted by the fact he calls it the Twitters. “I live a pretty boring existence really. If I’m not working I go fishing. If I’m not working or fishing I might ride me horse,” he says.
“That’s why I’m not on the Twitters. I don’t know anyone who would be interested in the minutiae of my day. It’s just not something that appeals to me.
Farnham will hit the stage again this month for his second co-headline tour in as many years. Last year it was with Lionel Richie, this year’s friends reunited tour is with Olivia Newton-John. The two are already in talks about how much they’ll do together. He loves her Peter Allen material and has been Danny to her Sandy singing Grease duets in the past.
“It’s going to be great fun. Olivia and I are a natural fit.”
John Farnham and Olivia Newton-John pose at Melbourne Docklands ahead of their Two Strong Hearts tour.