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John Farnham

Photo credit Serge Thomann

John has sold millions of records. He holds the record for the highest selling album by an Australian artist, the record for the highest ticket sales by an Australian artist in every entertainment centre across Australia, and has received numerous awards and accolades.

Throughout his career John has been involved in many charities, promoted many products and has been presented with numerable awards. He is Australia's most talented and popular entertainer, engaging his audience immediately when he comes on stage.

John Farnham is an admirable, humble, hardworking and devoted family man. He is a true Australian Icon full of unpretentious charm whose music has held generations spellbound.

Early Life

John Peter Farnham was born July 1st, 1949, to Rose and John Farnham Snr. at Mile End Hospital in East London.

Living in Dagenham, Essex for the first ten years of his life, John grew up surrounded by plenty of love, music and sing-a-longs. John's Granddad would busk and could strike a tune on almost any instrument, and Uncle Alf would lull John to sleep playing record after record.

One of John's first memories of singing is from school. He was about seven and, as a punishment for singing under his breath, a teacher made him stick his head out the window and belt out 'He's Got the Whole World in his Hands'.

When he was a kid, his parents would stand him on the table and say, Sing us a song, Johnny. He often sang Blue Star, first released by Felicia Sanders in 1955.
He loved the attention.

John was confined to bed with pneumonia when he was six and Uncle Alf gave him a record player and one record - Jim Reeves singing 'He'll Have To Go'. His interest in music was born as he played the record repeatedly. John's first instrument, a plastic four string guitar, followed shortly after. He struggled to play it until he heard Paul Anka's 'Diana'. John's early influences include The Everly Brothers, however he has said his biggest influence was Tommy Steele, who is regarded as Britain's first teen idol and rock and roll star.

During the late 50's John performed around Essex on charity shows staged by his Uncle Christopher.

In 1959, John Snr., Rose, and their children John and his sisters Jean and Jackie emigrated to Australia, sailing from Southampton on the P&O Liner Orsova.
When the Farnham's arrived in Australia, they stayed with John's Aunt Mary in Yarraman Park in Victoria. Brother Steven was later born. John attended Yarraman State School and Lyndale Primary School.

John performed Elvis Presley's 'Wooden Heart' at a concert night at school, but the night didn't go well as his guitar was out of tune. By the end of the performance, the audience was yelling for him to get off - an interesting start to his show business career!

with parents
John with his parents

First Bands

John's first real step towards a musical career was when he and two school friends, both named Mike formed a band called The Mavericks. They didn't know many numbers but managed to get a few gigs at school socials. John only knew three chords on the guitar - C, G and E. John remembers playing at a 21st birthday party and they played Wooden Heart and Love Potion No.9 for three hours. The members progressed to Lyndale High School together and the group regularly played at school concerts and at the Dandenong Town Hall.

During the school holidays, John worked with family friend Stan Foster in his plumbing business at Caulfield Heating Service, where he was offered a plumbing apprenticeship. He took up the opportunity to leave school, howvever his mathematics score was lower than needed to grant his permit. A kind assistant at the Commission changed the score and they granted him his apprenticeship.

The Mavericks auditioned to support local band Strings Unlimited who were running a Friday night dance at the Lyndale hall in Dandenong. Strings Unlimited were impressed with 15 year old John's vocal abilities. Three of the members arranged to meet with him the following weekend at a 21st birthday party where The Mavericks were playing.

The group members listened while the band repeatedly played the only five songs they knew until their set was finished, and then the trio asked John to audition as lead singer for their band. John had spent the entire week practicing and when the time came to audition his voice was too hoarse to sing very much. The band told a tense John, not to worry about it and to come back next week after his voice had recovered.
That next week he sang 'House of the Rising Sun' and was formally asked to join the band.

John continued to work at his plumbing job during the day, and peformed with Strings Unlimited most nights. John would go home, change clothes and race off to wherever they were playing each night.

Strings Unlimited were intent on breaking into the recording scene.
Norm Burke approached the band to record three tracks with Al Matthews. John watched this process silently seated near the exit door of Armstrong Studios and was assured there would later be tracks to record with him as lead singer. Songs were reviewed with those intentions. The good intentions ran out along with the money and the project didn't eventuate. Strings Unlimited along with John later recorded a 3 song demo tape at Armstrong Studios in 1966 which was produced at their own expense.

The line-up was: John Farnham, vocals, Stewart Male, lead guitar, Barry Roy, second guitar, Mike Foenander, keyboards and Peter Foggie, drums. The three tracks featured were covers of The Beatles, 'I Feel Fine' and 'I'm Down' and The Gerry And The Pacemakers song 'Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying'.
It wasn't until several years later in 1974, five copies of the tape were cut to disc at Rambler Studios and each member of the band was given a copy. Ian Melthoid from the Peninsula radio station Southern, broadcasted a special on John and contacted the other members of Strings Unlimited, he dusted off the demo tape they had recorded and aired it on the show.

Strings Unlimited and Bev Harrell were sharing the bill on April 29th, 1967 at the Cohuna dance in country Victoria. They were rehearsing when Bev Harrell entered with her friend, Darryl Sambell. In the middle of the bracket, Darryl approached John and asked him to sing a fast song and a couple of slow songs. Darryl said, that was good. After rehearsals, Darryl asked John, along with Bev, back to his room for a drink.
Darryl said he could make John a star, and asked for his phone number, which John gave him. John had heard it all before and thought nothing more of it. Four weeks later Darryl phoned John and asked if he could meet. John and his parents met with Darryl in Melbourne where he offered to manage him. John wouldn't consider leaving Strings Unlimited, however months later when Strings Unlimited had disbanded up he took up Darryl's offer of management.

On November 17, 1967 John took a two year leave on from his plumbing apprenticeship to pursue his singing career. He would never return to his apprenticeship.

Darryl Sambell was from Adelaide and knew the music scene better there than in Melbourne. John's first gigs were booked at St Clair, The Princeton Club and Halfway Out, three gigs on the same night. He received $20 for each performance. John's first TV appearance was on Adelaide's Country And Western Hour and his first live perfotmance was on Adelaide Tonight where he sang The Day I Met Marie.

Darryl scored John a session for the Ansett-ANA commercial SUSAN JONES after he asked EMI producer, David McKay to listen to an audition tape John was putting down. David was at Armstrong Studios, early for a meeting and heard the last few bars. Impressed by John he stored the imformation for later. The Susan Jones campaign began and the media men asked David if he could suggest anyone for the lyrics. David suggested John and the company men were sold! The commercials proved so popular that Festival produced the Susan Jones EP.

They were used for promotional purposes and given to customers who flew Ansett-ANA. Apparently, John was paid only $40 for what has today become a mega rare EP.

John 1968

Life Would Never Be The Same

David McKay recognised John's talent and signed him to EMI, for release on the Columbia label following a private performance backed by the band, Zoot.
This was when his career really started to take off and he recorded Sadie The Cleaning Lady.

Life would never be the same for Johnny Farnham. 'Sadie The Cleaning Lady' was very cleverly marketed with publicity stunts. These included advertisements placed in newspapers for cleaning ladies, and an Electrolux vacuum cleaner appearing at the launch.

A huge success, Sadie reached No.1 on December 22nd 1967 in Adelaide, 12th January 1968 in Brisbane, 16th February in Perth and 25th February in Melbourne.
Go-Set National Charts lists the following -
Charting period: 13 Dec 1967 to 22 May 1968 (24 weeks total, 14 weeks in the top 10).
Peak position: 1 (achieved 31 Jan 1968, for 5 weeks).
'Sadie The Cleaning Lady' was the largest selling single by an Australian artist in the 60's, selling a huge 180,000 units.

Following the success of Sadie, EMI/Columbia issued Johnny's first album, SADIE, which achieved Gold Status.

Johnny embarked on his first national tour of New Zealand with The Rebels for the national Blast Off '68 Pop Spectacular.

Johnny's second album, EVERYBODY OUGHTA SING A SONG was released in 1968.
On April 15th, 1969 the ABC screened a one hour Johnny Farnham TV special.

In June 1969, John was crowned King of Pop - a title he held for five years.

In September 1969, 'One' went to number one and John hit the road around Australia on the Operation Starlift concert Tour with Russell Morris, Ronnie Burns, Johnny Young, Zoot, Doug Parkinson In Focus and Masters Apprentices.

In December 1969 Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head becomes John's third number one smash hit.

In January 1970, John starred in the pantomime Dick Whittington and His Cat, playing the lead role of Dick Whittington.

In May, John made his TV hosting debut on Good Morning Melbourne. During the first week, he was also performing at night in Perth. He would fly to Perth after the show and then take an overnight flight back to Melbourne for the 7am start.

In June the LOOKING THROUGH A TEAR album went gold within weeks of its release and in October the single 'Comic Conversation' became a national top ten hit.

CHRISTMAS IS JOHNNY FARNHAM followed LOOKING THROUGH A TEAR. Many singles were released but failed to chart. In fact, he was kept out of the charts until October 1972. However, John, ever popular, still won many awards.

Four more albums followed in 1971, JOHNNY, THE BEST OF JOHNNY FARNHAM (World Record Club with two different covers) and EVERYBODY OUGHTA SING A SONG was re-released with an on-stage picture cover. TOGETHER was recorded with Allison Durbin. Several singles were released but again failed to chart.

John also recorded a track for the UNICEF 25th Anniversary album.
In 1971, John starred in the musical Charlie Girl where he met his future wife, Jillian.

In 1972, John was crowned King Of Moomba. The album JOHNNY FARNHAM SINGS THE SHOWS was released.
Finally, the single 'Rock Me Baby' gave John his first chart success in nearly three years, climbing to No.13.

The single that followed, 'Don't You Know It's Magic' also made the top 20 and won an award for Most Outstanding Performance of a Composition award at the World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo.

wedding day
John and Jill on their Wedding day

Marries Jillian Billman

A long held wish for a family of his own was realised on April 11th, 1973 when John married Jillian Billman at St. Matthew's Church Of England in Glenroy, Melbourne.
Details had been leaked to the press and screaming fans were everywhere. Jill had to be carried in as fans tried to rip at her dress. The photographer hired for the day disappeared with the negatives and was never seen again.

Released shortly after his wedding, the album HITS MAGIC ROCK N'ROLL was released and later that year, the live album JOHNNY FARNHAM SINGS THE BIG HITS OF'73 LIVE.

John spent most of 1974 performing in 'Pippin'. John performed at a relief concert to aid victims of Cyclone Tracy.
He also starred along with Colleen Hewett in a 13 part variety show called 'It's Magic'. JOHNNY FARNHAM SINGS THE SHOWS and HITS FROM THE MOVIES was released.

In January of 1975, John hosted the first colour transmission of ABC's Countdown.

There were initial plans to go to the United States in 1975 to give his sales and career a boost, but those plans were shelved and John stayed in Australia.

Although extremely popular, the record buying public deserted John and once again his singles failed to chart. Groups rather than solo artists were more popular.
John recorded his last album for EMI, JP FARNHAM SINGS in July.

In September 1975, John guest starred as bank robber, Tom in an episode of the TV Cop Series 'Division 4'.

Personal differences stifled the relationship between John and manager, Darryl Sambell. The rift that had been slowly growing between them ended the partnership nine years and three days after it started. On 12th January 1976, the news was made public "John and Darryl split".

In June, 1976 John did a fundraising show along with other celebrities to help Italian earthquake victims.
EMI no longer wanted to record John, however, they released JOHNNY FARNHAMS GREATEST HITS album to cash in on John's previous success.

Festival records signed John. The relationship was short-lived with only two singles being released.

Musical taste had changed in Australia. John really just wanted to stay home with Jill, buy a house, a car, and settle down. He believed if the worst came to the worst, he could survive in the industry by playing the clubs and doing TV spots.

John approached Kenn Brodziak to take over as his manager and received a fairly regular income under Kenn's management.

By 1977, John's career was picking up. He was hosting 'Opportunity Knocks' and narrating the ABC wildlife series 'Survival'.

John starred in 'Bobby Dazzler', (1977-1978) a sitcom on the Seven Network about a young singer on the verge of a major career breakthrough. He played the part of pop star Bobby Farrell. Maurie Fields played the part of his father.

John continued his ongoing commitment to good causes by participating in the Yooralla Telethon. He also did two commercials, the Red Cross Doorknock Appeal, and the Channel 10 Christmas Appeal.

John was performing regularly on the Don Lane Show and Denise Drysdale Show. His last performance in 1977 was the Melbourne Carols By Candlelight.

John still couldn't get a recording contract. He felt unhappy with himself, playing the same old songs in front of indifferent bands.
Things were slowly going downhill, and he stagnated. He wasn't being fulfilled. John really wanted to sing. That's what he was, a singer. It was fast becoming frustrating for him and felt like a dead end.

The only work John could get was acting roles. He appeared in a play called 'Roberta' which Kenn did not really want him to do, so he quoted an enormously high payment figure, asked for the No.1 dressing room and a part for Jill. It was accepted.

John and Jill visited their friends Colleen Hewett and husband Danny Finley in the USA in 1978. After negotiations, Danny took over as his manager. Danny believed John's act was tired and that he needed new songs. Danny cut down John's exposure to re-shape his career. To earn a decent living, John made many appearances on The Don Lane show and played the Sydney clubs.

John was still dissatisfied and wanted to get into rock rather than cabaret. A business venture between Danny, Colleen and John, Backstage, a restaurant in Melbourne, failed miserably, and they suffered badly financially. John lost his holiday farm, but his accountant managed to save the family's home. John was hit with an outstanding tax bill. The financial pressure was mounting.

John and Glenn
John and Glenn - Photo: Gaynor Wheatley

Enter Glenn Wheatley

1979, John and Jill returned to the USA on holiday and visited Las Vegas where The Little River Band (LRB) was playing at the Aladdin on August 17th.
They met up with old friend Glenn Wheatley, LRB's manager, who arranged for them to see the show.
John was really impressed with LRB's success and after the show he went backstage.

At midnight, while the crew was loading out, John and Jill sat on the back steps of The Aladdin with Glenn. John was full of questions about LRB's success. It was suggested that Glenn take over John's management.

John was very loyal. It would be difficult for him to part ways with Danny Finley. After six months of thought, John told his close friend Danny that he was going over to the 'Wheatley Organisation'.

John and Jill's first son, Robert, was born on 27th September.

Glenn signed John to WBE Records on January 1st, 1980 and suggested Graeham Goble do an album with John.

At the time, John was perceived as a Cabaret artist, and Graeham was locked into the current music scene. The 1980 album UNCOVERED made everyone think twice about John Farnham; he still had that voice. The album sold 55,000 copies. It had taken only three weeks to record.

The first single from the album was 'Help'. John's own incredible arrangement of The Beatles hit gave John his first chart success in nearly seven years.

It also changed people's minds about John. He had shown them he was no longer just that fresh-faced plumber's mate who sang Sadie.
It made everyone, the public and those in the music industry take note.

John's popularity was rising again. John and Glenn put together The John Farnham Band, and they went on the road to do a tour of the pubs.

In 1980, John starred with Debbie Byrne in 'Farnham and Byrne'. Two more singles were released and they presented John with the Mo Award for Entertainer Of The Year. THE BEST OF JOHN FARNHAM (CD) and THE BEST OF JOHNNY FARNHAM (LP) with the same tracks but different covers were released by AXIS.

On February 2nd, 1981, LRB were having some in-house problems and held a meeting which resulted in them agreeing that they wanted John Farnham as their new lead singer. John was approached by Glenn to do the job and he accepted.

November 1982 the LRB single 'The Other Guy' was in the U.S.top ten.

1984/1985 John sang title and soundtracks songs for American films, 'Fletch', 'The Sluggers Wife', 'Rad', 'Savage Streets', 'Voyage Of The Rock Aliens', 'Beyond My Reach' and 'Hell Tracks'.

February 1985, John's composition 'Playing To Win' titles LRB's second album with him as lead singer.

LRB released three albums with John and toured the world. They received popular acclaim, but after what was four turbulent years, John announced he was leaving the band to pursue a solo career. John's time with LRB had left him in debt.

ARIA Awards
1987 Aria Awards

Whispering Jack

While Glenn searched in vain for a record deal and a record producer, John began the search for songs with Ross Fraser. Months later, they had listened to over two thousand songs and still no producer in sight. Ross took a chance and asked Glenn if he would let him produce the album.

The last song they found for the album was 'You're The Voice'. Two weeks before the completion of the album, a staff member of Glenn's, Doris Tyler found the song and passed it on. John and Ross listened to it and it went to the top of their list. John turned to Ross and said it had to have a bagpipe solo which John had heard in his head. They tried it and the rest is history.
John felt 'You're The Voice' had been written for him.

When one of the writers, Chris Thompson, heard that John wanted to record 'You're The Voice' he refused permission. All Thompson knew about John was his Sadie days. He felt the song was too important to go to someone without credibility. John wanted it. Chris said no. They recorded it anyway.

John had set himself very high standards for the album. They worked for nine weeks in the studio for up to eighteen hours a day. John was at breaking point. Emotionally, financially and vocally, this was probably his last chance. So much was riding on it and the pressure was intense. He needed it to work.

No record company would commit to the album, so in the end Glenn Wheatley mortgaged his house to bankroll WHISPERING JACK. He eventually signed a distribution deal with BMG. Jill had to drag John to the listening party at BMG. She told him that if he didn't go, the album would have no chance of success. She put him in the car and made him go.
The first single 'You're The Voice' restored John Farnham to Number One for the first time in 17 years. It didn't come easy though. Glenn struggled to find a radio station that would play the song. They sent out white label nameless copies. Slowly the song was played and eventually stations had no choice but to play it due to public demand. 'You're The Voice' hit No.1 on the Australian charts on November 9 1986.

John opened for Whitney Houston at The Sydney Entertainment Centre on 16th and 17th October. Brett Garsed recalls that the house was packed and as they waited in the dark to play the first song, the crowd roared for John. It was a defining moment, Jack was definitely back. He received standing ovations and calls for an encore. John was now the major force in the Australian music industry.

On 20th October 1986, John's first solo album in six years, WHISPERING JACK was released and was a huge success, spending an incredible 25 weeks at No.1 and at last count has sold over 1.7 million albums, 17 times platinum in Australia alone.

John scooped six awards at the 1987 Aria Awards. The album was an international success, reaching the top three in Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland. It remains Australia's highest selling album by an Australian artist.

'You're The Voice' reached the U.K. top ten in April 1987. John achieved number ones in West Germany, Scandinavia and Canada and the top ten in Italy and Spain.

In May, WHISPERING JACK was the first compact disc manufactured in Australia and celebrated by a special release made of Kalgoorlie gold.

1988 was a busy year and another special one for John, as his second son James, was born on 17th January.

John was announced 1987 Australian Of The Year on Australia Day 1988.

His next album, AGE OF REASON, was released on 25th July 1988 and debuted at No.1. John toured nationally as well as in Scandinavia, Germany and the U.K.
During March 1989, John visited U.S.S.R. to launch the Greenpeace album BREAKTHROUGH, alongside The Edge, Annie Lennox, Peter Gabriel, Chrissie Hynde and David Byrne.

John performed 'Age Of Reason' and 'You're The Voice' at the Princes Trust concert in London in July.

In August, 'Communication', a collaborative single with Dannielle Gaha, reached No.13. John performed 'Waltzing Matilda' at the last-ever VFL Grand Final in 1989.

The Main Event
with olivia Newton-John and Antony Warlow

The 90's

CHAIN REACTION was released on 24th September 1990. It followed its predecessors and debuted at No.1.
The Chain Reaction tour broke attendance records across the country.

In 1991, an album of live performances between 1985 and 1991 was released titled FULL HOUSE.

In the 1992 production of Jesus Christ Superstar John took on the role of Jesus. Both the arena spectacular and the album were highly successful.

John was awarded the Australian Music Awards Crystal Trophy for Outstanding Contribution to the Industry.

John continued to release albums and tour in the 90's. First 1993's THEN AGAIN followed by ROMEO'S HEART in 1996. He toured in support of both albums with the highly successful 'Talk Of The Town' and 'Jack Of Hearts' tours.

In 1996, John was honoured with the Order Of Australia for Services To Music and Charity.

In 1997, John's 30 year career was celebrated with the release of the albums ANTHOLOGY 1, 2 and 3. In the same year he was recognised as the Most Broadcast Australian Recording Artist by the Phonographic Performance Company Of Australia.

In 1998 he toured with Olivia Newton-John & Anthony Warlow in The Main Event. THE MAIN EVENT CD reached 4x platinum sales within weeks of its release.

John celebrated his 50th birthday in 1999 with the 'I Can't Believe He's 50' tour and the album LIVE AT THE REGENT THEATRE. A concert on John's birthday at The Regent Theatre was a huge event in Melbourne; large screens projected the concert to the adoring crowds in the street and it was televised nationwide.

John was awarded 'The Key To The City' by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne and he ended the year with a concert held in East Timor for the INTERFET troops.

in concert
in concert

Concludes Major Touring

33 1/3 was released in July 2000, and debuted at No. 1.

Along with Olivia Newton-John, he performed 'Dare To Dream' at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics.

'The Man Of The Hour' tour followed in November and December.
The concerts sold out across the country.

THE LAST TIME album was released on October 7th, 2002 and sold 350,000 copies. John embarked on his final large-scale tour also titled THE LAST TIME in Melbourne on November 7th.
The concerts showcased John's amazing career. It was the biggest tour ever undertaken in Australia, crossing the nation for 210 days before concluding at Rod Laver Arena on 15th November 2003. Billboard reported it as the 7th highest grossing touring act of that year in the world.

John concluded major touring, holding every attendance record in the country. In fact more than 1,000,000 people have seen him perform at Rod Laver Arena alone and he continues to maintain the record for the highest selling Australian album of all time, WHISPERING JACK.

John said at the beginning of 'The Last Time' tour that he still intended to perform live to audiences in the future, and to continue to record ... he just wouldn't ever tour on a large scale again.

John was asked to join Queen after the death of Freddie Mercury. It didn't happen, but John recorded an amazing version of 'We Will Rock You' with them in September 2003.

The ONE VOICE CD & DVD showcasing John's greatest hits was released on October 20th, 2003 and has sold over 400,000 copies.

John was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame by Glenn Wheatley. On the night he performed a mind blowing version of 'You're The Voice'.

Luckily for his fans, John Farnham was true to his word, and in December 2003, he performed at Twin Towns for 3 shows.

It was New Zealand's turn in February 2004 when John performed at the annual Mission Estate Winery concert.

In March he took to the stage at Tempus Two winery and Barossa Under The Stars, followed by Sirromet Winery in May.

In 2004, John was approached by the Office Of Australian War Graves to sing at the 90th Anniversary Anzac Service at Gallipoli in Turkey. However, Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark vetoed the plans.

In February 2005, John did a series of concerts with Tom Jones. Their TOGETHER CD was released on 20th March followed by the DVD release on 24th April.

Planned to be billed as 'Two Great Voices', three concerts scheduled for Sydney and Melbourne with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa in February 2005 were cancelled. Dame Kiri was uncomfortable at the prospect of female fans throwing knickers on stage.

From May to June, John starred as Teen Angel in the highly successful Australian production of 'Grease, The Arena Spectacular'.

Dairy Farmers chose John Farnham for their "Creating Greener Pastures" campaign to provide support for farmers, rural, and regional communities across Australia.

I REMEMBER WHEN I WAS YOUNG: Songs From The Great Australian Songbook was released on 6th November 2005, a collection of interpretations of Australian classics that were written and performed by Australian artists over the last 40 years.

A series of concerts were performed in early 2006 with The SSO and MSO orchestras, a percentage of revenue received from the 'I Remember When I was Young' concerts went to the Dairy Farmers 'Creating Greener Pastures' program to help farmers and their communities.

February 18th saw John perform at the Wollongong Entertainment Centre. Following shortly after, John and Stevie Nicks joined forces for double-bill shows in Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and New Zealand.

John performed four songs at the finale of the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games' Closing Ceremony.

100% of proceeds of the Spirit Of The North concert in June 2006 went to assist recovery of cyclone devastation through the Dairy Farmers Creating Greener Pastures Program.

with Olivia
with olivia Newton-John

Not The Last Time

March 14th 2009 saw John perform at the Sound Relief concert in Sydney to raise funds for bushfire ravaged Victoria and flood victims in Queensland. A roar went up when the crowd heard the opening thunderclaps of 'You're The Voice' and Coldplay's Chris Martin announced.....Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome to sing the Australian national anthem, John Farnham. The whole stadium sang along to You're The Voice. It was an incredibly spine tingling experience and the highlight of the entire day. John later commented about the day; Singing You're the Voice with Coldplay at Sound Relief, in 2009, was like nothing else. There I was, an old fart coming out to sing an old song. Before we went on, I said to them, no pressure, lads. You're the biggest band in the world. To his credit, Chris Martin said, We're only the second biggest band in the world. It took my breath away. I barely sang, I just held the mike out to the crowd. It inspired me and made me think, 'OK, there are still people interested in me and what I do.

After an absence of more than two decades, 'You're The Voice' re-entered the ARIA charts in April 2009.

Fans started an online petition to encourage John to tour. The WE WANT JACK BACK petition had over 21,000 signatures in 10 days.

On May 27th 2009 at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney, John announced his Live By Demand tour to take place during September and October 2009.
Plans for a new album were announced as well as a 3 box set titled THE ESSENTIAL JOHN FARNHAM.

On 29th May 2010, John performed at the Airnorth Kimberley Moon Experience concert in Kununurra.

In July John was chosen for the entertainment at Sydney's Luna Park 75th Birthday, in October.

John performed his first ever a Day On The Green shows with three concerts in VIC, NSW and WA. The tour also included two new outdoor concert venues, RACV Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast QLD and Coopers Brewery in SA. Indoor shows included Canberra, Wollongong, Newcastle and Tamworth.

JACK, John's first studio album in 5 years, was released on October 15th and debuted at No.2.

It was announced on June 8th 2011 that to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of WHISPERING JACK, John would embark on a national tour from October to November. Commencing in Adelaide on Tuesday October 4th, the tour took in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. Ten concerts quickly grew to twenty-eight.
John, as always, was in demand!

recording studio
Recording Studio - Acoustic Chapel Sessios

Before taking to the stage, John entered the studio in July to put down tracks for an acoustic/unplugged album of hits from all eras of his career. THE ACOUSTIC CHAPEL SESSIONS along with a DVD was recorded live and released on September 30th.

To top off 2011, John and the band performed after the V8 Supercars race in Sydney on December 3rd. The last song of the night, 'Long Way To The Top' left the crowd cheering as loud as the cars had roared around the track!

2013 began with a performance at the opening of the Star Event Centre at Star City in Sydney on January 24th and due to demand, a second show was added on the 25th.

2013 continued with John being voted as Australia's finest singer of all time. The votes were submitted by a panel of his peers and in response John said, Just to be in the company of the people on that list will do me .. I'm blown away.

He was amongst the faces of 10 famous bands and artists to be immortalised on Australian postage stamps (John for the second time) and the stamps sold out almost immediately.

The Dainty Group announced in November 2013 that John would perform in a co-headlining tour with Lionel Richie across Australia and New Zealand in March 2014, opening in WA on March 2nd and concluding in Auckland on 23rd March.

On October 18th, 2014, John headlined the Decades Music Festival at Pine Rivers Park, Strathpine QLD. The act on before him was none other than The Seekers.

John had a busy 2015. He shared the stage with Olivia Newton-John on the TWO STRONG HEARTS tour which began on the 4th April at the Sandalford Winery in Margaret River concluding in Sydney on 19th April.

With no time for resting, John headlined the River4Ward charity concert on 23rd April on the banks of the Yarra River in Melbourne. Monies raised were directed towards the building of a specialised youth cancer centre in Melbourne.

On June 15th John was inducted into the The Age Music Victoria Hall of Fame, which was celebrated on November 20 with a concert at the Palais Theatre headlined by John. "I am extremely proud to be on this list. I am a proud Victorian, now I am even prouder," Farnham said at the launch at the Palais Theatre.

The TWO STRONG HEARTS Live DVD was released on August 21st and reached No.1. 2015 concluded with concerts in November and December, two for One Electric Day, five Day On The Green Concerts and the closing of Qantas Credit Union Arena (formerly known as Sydney Entertainment Centre).

Colleen Hewett asked John to be involved in a music video for Violence Free Families, the Rotary Initiative. He didn't hesitate! watch the video

John was the headline artist for Cruise N Groove 2016, setting sail October 9th. John performed two shows, one each on October 15th and 16th.

John and his long-time friend Olivia Newton-John, collaborated on a Christmas Album, FRIENDS FOR CHRISTMAS, which was released on November 11th.

Another busy year, John was the headline artist for the Red Hot Summer Tour 2017, performing nine shows across Australia between January and March. He also squeezed in a special show at Jupiters, Gold Coast on Feb 23rd.

There was also One Electric Day, two shows at the Wollongong Entertainment Centre, one at the Derwent Entertainment Centre, A Weekend In The Gardens in Melbourne, Rottnest Island and two A Day On The Green shows.

Sadly, Stuart Fraser was diagnosed with cancer and John headlined a fundraising concert on June 28 to support Stuart, Olivia's Wellness Centre and Support Act.

On July 30th, the Queensland Music Festival held a special concert to raise awareness for Domestic Violence. It was titled 'You're The Voice'. In a well kept secret, John appeared at the end of the night to sing 'You're The Voice', backed by an amazing choir of hundreds.

John once again performed at Olivia's ONJ Gala held on September 8th.

Later in the year, he performed in Geelong, Werribee, Wollongong, Barossa Valley & Kings Park.

On August 18th, AGE OF REASON was reissued on vinyl.

2018 proved to be just as busy, starting with By The C in Hervey Bay in February, followed by seven Red Hot Summer Tour dates up to the end of March. In July there was The Watpac race concert in Townsville, the incredible Red Hot Bash in Birdsville and One Tropical Day in Darwin.

In August, John was a special guest at Celine Dion's concert in Melbourne on August 8th and performed a duet of 'You're The Voice' with her.

Later in the month, John joined Client Liaison in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane for three songs during their Client Liaison Expo Tour. The response to John was overwhelming, with the crowd singing along and giving him a standing ovation.

In October, John performed an exclusive concert at Gardens By The Bay in Singapore for Imagine Cruising culminating in a spectacular light show at the end of the concert.
Hay Mate: Buy a Bale – A Concert For The Farmers was held at Scully Park in Tamworth, on Saturday, 27th October. The concert organised by Glenn Wheatley and headlined by John was to support Australia's drought-stricken farmers, and raised over $2 million.

The inaugural music festival, Anthems, was held at the National Arboretum in Canberra in November where John was the headliner, followed by four A Day On The Green concerts in SA, NSW and Qld and the last concert of the year in the Yarra Valley.

2019 began with the cancellation of The Eagles show in Dunedin and the postponement of shows in Auckland and Wellington and the cancellation of By The C concerts due to illness. John bounced back quickly and was soon headlining Red Hot Summer Shows in Batemans Bay, Baulkham Hills, Mt Gambier, Noosa, Rockhampton & Cairns, bringing us to the end of April.

John turned 70 on 1st July and celebrated with a private dinner at his favourite restaurant in Melbourne.
The National Film & Archives produced an exhibition to honour the occasion.

John performed at the Mt Isa Rodeo 60th Anniversary in August and the 70th Anniversary of The Toowoomba Carnival Of Flowers in September. In October, John returned to Singapore where he performed two shows at Gardens By The Bay for Imagine Cruising.

John was the headline act for the One Electric Day and Live in the Vines concerts across Australia. After the cancellation of his shows earlier in the year, John finally made it to New Zealand and played to packed houses in Auckland and Wellington.

Hay Mate – A Bush Christmas Concert which was organised by Glenn Wheatley, was held at Mornington Racecourse in mid December. It raised a staggering $4.60 million; John's set was said to have sparked at least $1 million alone.

Falls Festival was held between December 2019 and January 2020. John was the oldest artist to ever perform at the popular festival. Despite being almost four-times the average age of his crowd, he put on a legendary show!

Fire Fight Concert
Fire Fight Concert

Fire Fight Concert and Beyond

At the fundraiser concert, Fire Fight Australia on 16th February 2020 in Sydney, John was joined on stage by Brian May, Olivia Newton-John and Mitch Tambo for a very special performance of 'You're The Voice', where Birri Gubba man Mitch Tambo sang the second half of the song in Gamilaraay.

In February 2022, John's long time friend and manager, Glenn Wheatley, passed away from Covid complications. He was John's best friend & biggest champion. Glenn's wife Gaynor now manages John with family friend, David Wilson.

Late in 2022, in a cruel twist of fate, it was announced that John had mouth cancer. He continues on the road to recovery and the Farnham family and Gaynor have provided regular updates reassuring his fans worldwide that he is doing OK.

In May 2023, the thing that had been on top of Glenn's to do list was realised. Glenn was the force behind 'John Farnham: Finding The Voice' and it is a wonderful testament to not only John's career but to the friendship the pair shared. It is also a tribute to Glenn from Gaynor, who picked up the project that her husband couldn't finish. The film premiered in Melbourne on May 9th and was released in cinemas nationwide on May 18th. In its first week, 'Finding The Voice' broke the record for the highest selling theatrical release of an Australian music documentary.

To quote Glenn talking about John, You don't like to think of yourself as a legend, but you are.

On May 19th 'Finding The Voice: Music From The Feature Documentary' CD was released and debuted at No.2

Following the release of 'Finding The Voice', John's GREATEST album (2009) re-entered the ARIA Charts. That week, John had three albums in the iTunes chart: John Farnham: Finding The Voice, Greatest Hits and Whispering Jack.

On July 21 2023, GREATEST HITS was released on two LP bottle green vinyl.

Australian TV premiere of John Farnham: Finding The Voice screened on Channel 7 and 7plus on July 24.

12 months on from John's cancer diagnosis, he received the news that he is cancer free.

On November 24 Friends For Christmas was released on red vinyl

John Farnham: Finding The Voice (Music from the Feature Documentary) wins an ARIA Award for Best Original Soundtrack Or Musical Theatre Cast Album



Born in East london, England

1956 - 1957

Performs around Essex at charity shows


Emigrates to Australia


Begins performing on weekends with The Mavericks


Joins Strings Unlimited


Records a three track demo with Strings Unlimited


Performs his first solo show at St Clair in Adelaide followed by The Princeton Club and Halfway Out

First TV appearance on Adelaide's Country And Western Hour

First live performance on Adelaide Tonight

Appears on the Adelaide pop show 'In-Time'

Records the Susan Jones commercial for TAA airlines.

Signed to EMI Records

Records Sadie The Cleaning Lady

Sadie single goes to No.1 in Adelaide

Voted Best Male Vocal


Sadie single goes to No.1 nationally

Sadie album goes gold

Wins the Logie award for Best Teenage Personality

Tours New Zealand with the Blast Off 68 Pop Spectacular

Johnny EP

Underneath The Arches single released

Jamie single released

Rose Coloured Glasses single released

I Saw Mummy Kising Santa Clause single released


The first ever Johnny Farnham TV special was screened on TV

The single One goes to No.1

Number One EP released

Operation Starlift concert Tour

Raindrops goes to No.1

King of Pop

Performs at Melbourne's Festival Hall

Lead role in 'Music Is Christmas', in Adelaide

Tours with Johnny O'Keefe

Guest on Easybeats TV Special


King of Pop

Hosts Good Morning Melbourne

Stars in the pantomime Dick Whittington and His Cat

Looking Through A Tear album goes gold

Comic Conversation is a national top ten hit

Hosts a five minute segment at 6.25 weeknights - Johnny Farnham's Revolution

Hosts a marathon fun spectacular on Channel 7 called Ideal Fun Day

Carols By Candlelight Mebourne

Appears on Canberra TV special, Meet Farnham, Kamahl and O'Keefe


King of Pop

Plays Joe in Charlie Girl

Channel 9 screens Johnny Farnham Sings The Shows

Plays the Prodigal Son at St. Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne

Together album with Alison Durbin

Erik Award: Best Supporting Actor for 'Charlie Girl'

Give A Little Love is included on For The Love Of man album


King of Pop

Crowned King of Moomba

Goes to World Popular Song Fesival in Tokyo where Don't You Know It's Magic wins Outstanding Prize

Awarded Most Popular Australian Male Singer in the Go-Set Pop Poll Awards

For Christ Sake Help The Kids single is released


King of Pop

Marries Jillian Billman

Presented with award for Victoria's Youth of The Year

Ted Hamilton and Johnny Farnham Together Again For The Very First Time


Plays the lead role in stage production of Pippin

It's Magic with Colleen Hewett


Hosts first color transmission of Countdown

Performs at a benefit concert for the victims of Cyclone Tracy

Performs in Night Of The Stars at Festival Theatre, Adelaide

Guest stars on Last Of The Australians


Guest on Young Talent Time

The television series Me and Mr. Thorne is piloted.

Stars in the musical Roberta

Johnny becomes John


John officially opens the headquarters for the Victorian Deserted Children's Assoc.


Music For The People concert at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne

Mo Award: Best Male Vocal


At an LRB show in Las Vegas John and Glenn Wheatley discuss management and an album

Mo Award: Best Male Vocal


TV series Farnham and Byrne

Sings Help at Royal Command Performance concert at Sydney Opera House

Help becomes John's first national top ten hit since 1972

Uncovered LP is released

Mo Award: Best Male Vocal and Entertainer of The Year


Son, Robert Farnham is born

John breaks attendance records at Billboard nightclub in Melbourne and tours in support of Stevie Wonder

Invited to replace Glenn Shorrock in Little River Band

Sammy Award: Best Variety Performer


Mo Award: Best Male Vocal


Mo Award: Best Rock Group - LRB Male Vocal

Leaves Little River Band

Records Christmas (War is Over) for Incredible Penguins album


Opens for Whitney Houston in Sydney

You're The Voice & Whispering Jack both roar to number one.

Performs with Laura Branigan at TV Week Awards

Performs with Billy Joel at Athletic Park, Wellington, NZ


Jack's Back becomes the biggest Australian concert tour of all time

John receives six statues at the inaugural ARIA Awards

Flys to London to appear on Top Of The Pops

Whispering Jack is the first CD manufactured in Australia


Son, James Farnham is born

Named Australian of the Year for 1987

Headliner at Brisbane Expo 88

Age Of Reason single and album both at number one

Age of Reason European tour


Visits U.S.S.R. to launch the Greenpeace album Breakthrough

Princes Trust concert, London

Sings at last ever VFL final

Summer Tour

Participates in Variety Club Bash, Bourke to Broome


Chain Reaction goes to No.1

Records duet with Jimmy Barnes, When Something Is Wrong With My Baby

Full House CD goes to No.2

Wins 2nd place in the Adelaide Grand Prix celebrity race

Mo Award: Contemporary Performer Of The Year

You're The Voice enters the USA Billboard charts

Performs at Ausmusic '90 from Brisbane Entertainment Centre


John heads the 'Kickstart Concert' for the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

Participated in Variety Club Bash, Bourke to Beagle


National concert production of Jesus Christ Superstar

Celebrity driver at the Adelaide Grand Prix and performs at the Adelaide Grand Prix concert

Singer Col Joye presents John with the Australian Music Awards' Crystal Trophy for Outstanding Contribution to the Industry.


Then Again album released


Talk of the Town concert tour

Talk Of The Town CD released

Receives the Melbourne Music Festival 'Hall Of Fame' award

Wins the Pine Lodge Indoor Equestrian Centre Celebrity Horse Reigning Competition

Narrates at a performance of 'Peter and The Wolf' at the Melbourne Concert Hall

Concert For Rwanda at Flinders Park, Melbourne


IndyCarnival on Gold Coast

Australia Remembers Concert


Receives Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)

Romeo's Heart album relased Jack Of Hearts tour

Tours Asia

Performs at the Melbourne Grand Prix concert

Performs 'Birthday' and 'Advance Australia Fair' at the AFL Centenary Grand Final


Performs at opening of Melbourne's Crown Casino

Release of Anthology CD's

Every Time You Cry (w/Human Nature) - most broadcast record of the year


The Main Event tour

Highlights of The Main Event album goes No.1

Performs at Shepherds Bush Empire, London and Langelands Festival, Denmark


John turns 50

I Can't Believe He's 50 tour

Live At The Regent Theatre album

Performs for Australian troops in Dili, East Timor

Joins Judith Durham, Col Joye, James Reyne and others for a special concert for the AIRBORNE SERVICES RESOURCES TRUST FUND in Perth

Presented with the key to the city by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne

Mo Award for The Main Event for Arena Performers of the Year


John and Olivia Newton John perform Dare To Dream at the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics

Man Of The Hour Tour

Mo Awards: Arena Performer Of The Year


Receives a Centenary Medal for outstanding services to Australian music


John Farnham Love Songs CD

Commencement of The Last Time national tour

The Last Time album launch - Esplanade Hotel St. Kilda, Victoria

Leeuwin Estate Winery, WA - two shows


Records with Queen to produce a new version of We Will Rock You for the Rugby World Cup

Inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame

Named as Victoria's Number One Living Treasure in a poll by Radio station 3AW

Performs at Evian Theatre, Penrith Panthers - 2 concerts

Tweed Heads NSW - 3 concerts

Inducted into the Aria Hall Of Fame


Performs at Mission Estate Winery, Hawkes Bay NZ

John re-signs with BMG and commits to 5 albums over the next 10 years

Performs at the Kids Under Cover Ball at the Palladium Room Crown Casino, Melbourne

Presented with the coveted James Cassius Award at the Helpmann Awards


Together In Concert tour with Tom Jones

I Remember When I Was Young: Songs From The Great Australian Songbook album reaches No.2

Plays the role of Teen Angel in Grease The Arena Spectacular

Performs at Bec Cartwright and Lleyton Hewitt's wedding reception. Lleyton sings a duet with John

Tsunami benefit concert


Performs at Sydney Opera House with SSO, for the Creating Greener Pastures cause

Short tour sharing the bill with Stevie Nicks

Concerts with the Sydney and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Sings at the Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony


Performs You're The Voice with Coldplay at Sydney Cricket Ground to open Sound Relief bushfire benefit concert

You're The Voice re-enters the ARIA charts

Fans initiate an online petition to encourage John to tour

Live By Demand tour


Kimberley Moon Experience concert in Kununurra

Luna Park's 75th Birthday


Tours to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Whispering Jack

The Acoustic Chapel Sessions live CD and DVD

Performs after the V8 Supercars race in Sydney


Performs at the opening of the Star Event Centre in Sydney

Voted as Australia's finest singer of all time by his peers

Immortalised on a postage stamp for the second time


Co-headlining tour with Lionel Richie across Australia and NZ

Headlines Decades Music Festival at Pine Rivers Park, Qld


Two Strong Hearts Tour, CD & DVD with Olivia Newton-John

Appeared in music video for Violence Free Families

Inducted into the The Age Music Victoria Hall of Fame

Day On The Green and One Electric Day concerts

Performed at the closing of Qantas Credit Union Arena (formerly known as Sydney Entertainment Centre)

Headlined the River4Ward charity concert


Headline artist for Cruise N Groove 2016

Whispering Jack boxset released

Friends For Christmas released


Age Of Reason reissued on vinyl

Red Hot Summer Tour

Performs at Jupiters

One Electric Day

Performs at Woolongong and Derwent Entertainment Centre

A Weekend in The Gardens, Rottnest Island and A Day On The Green

Performs at Domestic Violence Concert

Friends For Christmas released


Chain Reaction reissued on viny

By The C Concert

Red Hot Summer Tour

Watpac Race concert

Red Hot Bash

One Tropical Day

Joins Celine Dion on stage

Gardens By The Bay Singapore

Hay Mate Charity Concert


A Day On The Green


Red Hot Summer - Series 3

John turns 70

NFSA launch an online exhibition of John's career

Mt Isa 60th Anniversary

Toowoomba Carnival Of Flowers - 70th Anniversary

Singapore, Gardens By The Bay

One Electric Day - 5 shows

New Zealand

Live In The Vines

Hay Mate - Bush Christmas

Falls Festival


Falls Festival

Fire Fight Australia


Best friend and Manager, Glenn Wheatley passes away


Authorised Biopic, John Farnham: Finding The Voice

Greatest Hits re enters the ARIA Charts

Whispering Jack re enters itunes chart and ARIA Chart

Finding The Voice: Music From The Feature Documentary debuts at No.2

Greatest Hits (2009) released on 2LP bottle green vinyl

Age Of Reason 35th Anniversary released on green vinyl

Friends For Christmas released on red vinyl

ARIA Award for Best Original Soundtrack Or Musical Theatre Cast Album