Jimmy Barnes moved to Australia at five years of age with big dreams, but he never imagined he would receive one of his adopted country’s highest honours.

The charismatic rock singer and musician has been appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia and is in good company with fellow musicians Nick Cave and Paul Kelly also bestowed with the same honour.

The Cold Chisel frontman’s brother singer John “Swanee” Swan has also been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia.

“I’m an immigrant so to come here and receive this is very shocking and I’m really happy and really humbled,” Barnes told AAP.

Barnes, who grew up in Adelaide after immigrating with his family from the Scottish city of Glasgow, became the frontman of seminal Aussie band Cold Chisel in 1973 at the age of 16.

He and the band soon notched up a huge following with hits such as Khe Sanh, Saturday Night, and Cheap Wine.

Barnes released his first solo album, Bodyswerve, in 1984 and has notched up 10 number one albums, more than any other Australian artist, both with the band and on his own.


It’s a career he might not have enjoyed if he hadn’t moved to Australia, and it’s a reminder, he says, of how important immigrants are.

“You hear people talking about stopping immigration and all this sort of stuff, but I wouldn’t have a life if I hadn’t come here,” he said.

“I came here at five years old with nothing but dreams and being a part of this community, this country, has helped me realise some of those dreams and helped me find a life.”

Barnes has been honoured for his distinguished service to the performing arts as a musician, singer and songwriter, and through support for not-for-profit organisations, particularly to children with a disability.

“The work I do for charities is because I’ve seen the benefits of charity as a kid. I’ve been in bad situations, my children have been in hospital, so I like to support the people who work to make the community work. I don’t expect awards for it.”




Want more? Listen to this best bit from Jonesy & Amanda!