Jimmy Barnes faces biggest fear

 

Jimmy Barnes can scare the proverbial out of any living creature with his signature rock scream.

But it wasn't going to help him when he came face-to-face with many sharks on a recent working holiday to the Maldives.

Since Barnes penned his best-selling memoirs, Working Class Boy and Working Class Man, he has continued his quest to face his greatest fears.

And that includes taking up surfing and swimming with sharks.

"I never thought about surfing because I'm terrified of sharks. And I just went diving with them. It was incredible," he said.

Jimmy Barnes pictured in Sydney ahead of his next concerts. Picture: David Swift.
Jimmy Barnes pictured in Sydney ahead of his next concerts. Picture: David Swift.

 

"It's selfish but liberating that at this point in my career I get to say 'Yes, I'll do it' but I'm bringing my kids and my grandkids. That's the benefits of being around for 45 years."

Family is everything to the rock'n'roll survivor. And part of the road circus which takes off this week around the country for his Shutting Down Your Town tour.

The tour, in support of his history-making No. 1 album My Criminal Record, features son Jackie on drums, with wife Jane and daughters Elly May and EJ on backing vocals.

Jimmy Barnes is on a quest to face his biggest fears. Picture: David Swift.
Jimmy Barnes is on a quest to face his biggest fears. Picture: David Swift.

Daughter Mahalia has helped design the production and manage the tour and will join the family on stage at several concerts.

Barnes said none of his family gets a job in his band without being the right person for the gig.

"As much as it's family, I wouldn't have them in there at this point unless they were bringing something to the party," he said at the pre-tour rehearsals. "It costs me more because no other band member would say 'Oh Dad, could you fly my kids over?

"I get bossed around by all of them - they just changed a key in a song while I was away; they put it up and Mahalia says 'Oh, it's easy.' She sings like a demon and I've got to try to match it and I was already screaming like a banshee."

The No. 1 success of My Criminal Record has prompted Barnes to re-examine his hits from Working Class Man to Lay Down Your Guns and restore them to their original versions for this tour.

‘I never thought I’d be swimming with sharks. Never say ‘never’.’ Barnes said of swimming with sharks. Picture: @hannahandersonmedia @jamieg_tpw
‘I never thought I’d be swimming with sharks. Never say ‘never’.’ Barnes said of swimming with sharks. Picture: @hannahandersonmedia @jamieg_tpw


He finds his singing has also enjoyed a reboot in the wake of penning his memoirs.

"Dealing with the inner stuff has changed how I sing. Luckily I'm not hammered anymore because I would f … it up; these arrangements and this band keep me on my toes all the time instead of getting used to doing things a certain way," he said.

Since the memoirs and accompanying theatre tours helped Barnes confront the childhood demons he had spent a lifetime running away from, he continues to challenge himself with an exhaustive to-do list.

Following the tour, he will reunite with Cold Chisel to release their much-anticipated new record.

He also hopes to finish writing the third volume of his memoirs for publication next year but before that, there will be another children's book in time for Christmas.

There are plans to form a rockabilly supergroup with The Living End's Chris Cheney and Stray Cats' Slim Jim Phantom.

Jimmy Barnes performing at the Longines Golden Slipper Day at Rosehill Gardens on March 23. Picture: Getty
Jimmy Barnes performing at the Longines Golden Slipper Day at Rosehill Gardens on March 23. Picture: Getty


And after their debut in the Maldives, Tin Lids 2.0 starring his grandchildren is a certainty.

"There was no f … ing room on stage. Billy and Dylan were Irish dancing while Betty, Bella, Zoe and Ruby were each taking diva parts singing the songs. I was trapped and couldn't move and it was hilarious," he said, laughing.

"I think they'll want to make a record so that'll be on the cards at some point. You would be surprised how many hours are in a day when you're not hungover."

The Shutting Down Your Town tour kicks off at the Mackay Entertainment Centre on Wednesday, with all show details via jimmybarnes.com.

 


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