Makings of a rock star

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Jimmy Barnes will play at Fernhill Estate in Mulgoa on May 7. Photo: Stephanie Barnes

When we first met Jimmy Barnes in his early Cold Chisel days it was clear he had the makings of a rock star.

But behind that iconic voice and frenetic on-stage personality was a damaged man struggling to cope with the scars of an abusive childhood.

It’s this Jimmy that fans have been introduced to through his best-selling autobiography Working Class Boy.

The process of putting his life on the page wasn’t easy, but for Jimmy it drew attention to some important lessons.

“One of the main things I learned is that old adage of what doesn’t kill you makes you strong,” he told the Weekender.

“A lot of things that nearly killed me as a kid moulded me into being the sort of person I am as a rock singer.

“When I joined Cold Chisel I was aggressive, I was needy, I wanted people to like me, which is really important when you’re a rock ‘n’ roll singer.

“But by the end, because I hadn’t dealt with those issues, they nearly killed me again.”

These days Jimmy Barnes has learned to control his demons by facing up to his struggles and seeking support.

“You’ve got to get help, talk to friends, talk to professionals – I went and saw a therapist for years because I was out of control,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter how tough you are. Look how blessed I was, how lucky I was. I was successful, at the top of my game, I had good people around me, but it was still killing me.”

By sharing his story Jimmy has found he’s also opened the door for others to do the same.

“I’ve had people slipping me notes during shopping centre meet and greets saying ‘help me I’m in a violent relationship’, or ‘I have alcoholic pare When we first met Jimmy Barnes in his early Cold Chisel days it was clear he had the makings of a rock star.

But behind that iconic voice and frenetic on-stage personality was a damaged man struggling to cope with the scars of an abusive childhood.

It’s this Jimmy that fans have been introduced to through his best-selling autobiography Working Class Boy.

The process of putting his life on the page wasn’t easy, but for Jimmy it drew attention to some important lessons.

“One of the main things I learned is that old adage of what doesn’t kill you makes you strong,” he told the Weekender.

“A lot of things that nearly killed me as a kid moulded me into being the sort of person I am as a rock singer.

“When I joined Cold Chisel I was aggressive, I was needy, I wanted people to like me, which is really important when you’re a rock ‘n’ roll singer.

“But by the end, because I hadn’t dealt with those issues, they nearly killed me again.”

These days Jimmy Barnes has learned to control his demons by facing up to his struggles and seeking support.

“You’ve got to get help, talk to friends, talk to professionals – I went and saw a therapist for years because I was out of control,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter how tough you are. Look how blessed I was, how lucky I was. I was successful, at the top of my game, I had good people around me, but it was still killing me.”

By sharing his story Jimmy has found he’s also opened the door for others to do the same.

“I’ve had people slipping me notes during shopping centre meet and greets saying ‘help me I’m in a violent relationship’, or ‘I have alcoholic parents’, or ‘I’m an alcoholic, help me I’m out of control and I’m hurting my family’,” Jimmy said.

“The first stage in a lot of this stuff is just to talk to people. If you can get people to open up then you can start the healing process and start change.”

Though he himself is a changed man, Jimmy says there’s certain struggles that never go away, like those pre-gig nerves. Luckily though his coping strategy has changed since the Cold Chisel days.

“I used to drink and get smashed a lot because I would get so nervous,” he said.

“When I get up there now I’m still as nervous, it’s still like doing your first show, but the energy is probably more focused.”

That focused energy will be on show when Jimmy, along with fellow rock icon Jon Stevens, head to Fernhill Estate in Mulgoa next weekend.

This is the first event of its kind at the historic estate and, for Jimmy, it’s an opportunity to embrace his loyal fans.

“There’s a lot of reasons for me to do this show but I guess first and foremost is that this is the location of fans who’ve been following me for the last 30 to 40 years,” he said.

“I’m really happy to come out and do a festival of this standard in the heartland of my supporters.

“It’s a good location and a good bill, we just need a good audience and we’re ready to rock.”

As for whether he will take his life from the stage to the screen Jimmy says he has been approached about a biopic and he is open to the idea, but only if it’s honest.

“I don’t want to sensationalise any of this stuff,” he said.

“I don’t want to go out and make a movie about me being wild and reckless when it should be about being damaged and the struggle to try to make life work.”

Jimmy Barnes, Jon Stevens and Diesel will be performing at Fernhill Estate in Mulgoa on Sunday, May 7 at 3pm. Tickets start from $99 (+bf). For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.ticketek.com.au. nts’, or ‘I’m an alcoholic, help me I’m out of control and I’m hurting my family’,” Jimmy said.

“The first stage in a lot of this stuff is just to talk to people. If you can get people to open up then you can start the healing process and start change.”

Though he himself is a changed man, Jimmy says there’s certain struggles that never go away, like those pre-gig nerves. Luckily though his coping strategy has changed since the Cold Chisel days.

“I used to drink and get smashed a lot because I would get so nervous,” he said.

“When I get up there now I’m still as nervous, it’s still like doing your first show, but the energy is probably more focused.”

That focused energy will be on show when Jimmy, along with fellow rock icon Jon Stevens, head to Fernhill Estate in Mulgoa next weekend.

This is the first event of its kind at the historic estate and, for Jimmy, it’s an opportunity to embrace his loyal fans.

“There’s a lot of reasons for me to do this show but I guess first and foremost is that this is the location of fans who’ve been following me for the last 30 to 40 years,” he said.

“I’m really happy to come out and do a festival of this standard in the heartland of my supporters.

“It’s a good location and a good bill, we just need a good audience and we’re ready to rock.”

As for whether he will take his life from the stage to the screen Jimmy says he has been approached about a biopic and he is open to the idea, but only if it’s honest.

“I don’t want to sensationalise any of this stuff,” he said.

“I don’t want to go out and make a movie about me being wild and reckless when it should be about being damaged and the struggle to try to make life work.”

Jimmy Barnes, Jon Stevens and Diesel will be performing at Fernhill Estate in Mulgoa on Sunday, May 7 at 3pm. Tickets start from $99 (+bf). For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.ticketek.com.au.

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