Jimmy Barnes is back.
The legendary Australian rocker will make another comeback for the ages when he performs at Byron Bay Bluesfest on March 31, a warm-up for a full-scale tour of Australia.
This is no ordinary return to the stage. The 67-year-old singer is back from a life-threatening condition. Less than two months ago, Barnes was in ICU, after undergoing open-heart surgery, following an illness that refused to budge.
Last November, after opening the Mushroom 50 Live concert at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena, where he powered his way through “No Second Prize” and his signature song, “Working Class Man,” Barnes contracted bacterial pneumonia.
He was admitted to hospital on Nov. 27, 2023 and became “very unwell” while in hospital with the development of staphylococcal bacteraemia a few days after admission, explains a statement from reps.
Medics discovered he had an abscess at an old operation site due to the infection which required surgical intervention. The staph infection undermined Barnes’ health, causing endocarditis, a life-threatening condition that without urgent treatment may well have been fatal, reps say. Surgeons immediately checked-in Barnes for cardiac surgery on Dec. 13 to replace the aortic valve. The valve itself was replaced some years ago due to a “congenital defect,” he has said.
A year earlier, Barnes revealed he would go under the surgeon’s knife to correct “constant and severe pain” in his back and hip, the result of “jumping off PAs and stomping around stages” for more than 50 years. He also underwent back surgery in 2014, which kept him in hospital on Fathers Days (Sept. 7).
Those health problems, it would seem, are in the past.
“Every day I’m getting stronger. Every day I’m pushing myself a little bit further,” Barnes explains. “I’m excited about getting back on stage, in front of the band and playing for you all. And what better way is there to kick it off than the legendary Bluesfest Byron Bay with a really special celebration of Flesh and Wood. I really want to thank everyone for their support and good wishes while I was ill. The family were passing on your messages of care and it really lifted my spirits.”
Barnes will mark his return to the stage at Bluesfest over the Easter Long Weekend, celebrating the 30th anniversary of his Flesh and Wood LP. Then, two-time ARIA Hall of Fame-inducted artist and his band will headline a run of rescheduled Red Hot Summer Tour dates in April.
Later, Barnes will lead a stretch of stripped back, intimate theater shows on the Hell of a Time tour, running through June, July and coming to a halt Aug. 18 at the Sydney Opera House.
Barnesy, as he’s affectionately known in these parts, is a living legend, with 15 leaders on the ARIA Chart — an all-time record. Counting his five leaders with Cold Chisel, Barnes boasts an unprecedented 20 No. 1s, comfortably eclipsing the Beatles (with 14), Madonna (12), Eminem and U2 (11).
The Scotland-born singer was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame with Cold Chisel in 1993, and again as a solo artist in 2005, and is the first Australian solo act to have a No. 1 album in every decade since the 1980s.
In the lead-up to Christmas 2023, Mushroom Labels issued an expanded version of Blue Christmas, his 20th studio album and most recent No. 1.