Barnsey Beginnings

Barnsey Beginnings

jimmy barnes
Jimmy Barnes. Photo by Fryderyk Gabowicz/picture alliance via Getty Images.

The story will be familiar to the hardest of hardcore Cold Chisel fans. After a couple of years playing with a nascent Chisel, in 1975, Jimmy Barnes was convinced by his brother John “Swanee” Swan to jump ship to the more established Fraternity, who had recently lost their singer, one Bon Scott, to AC/DC.

Fraternity were already Adelaide legends, even though they’d started out in Sydney. They’d had something of a hit with their version of Blackfeather’s "Seasons of Change" in 1971, won a National Battle of the Bands which got them free passage to England, where nothing happened, and they came home in tatters. By the time they decided to reform, Bon had been conscripted by the Young brothers, so Swanee got the gig, but then he wanted Jimmy in the band with him, so he moved to the drums. There was a kinship between Fraternity and Chisel anyway; Fraternity’s harmonica player “Uncle” John Eyers had very briefly joined Chisel the year before. 

Jimmy was barely 19 when he joined Fraternity in 1975. He stayed with them for six months or so before returning to Chisel - Ian Moss had taken on lead vocal duties in the interim - and all concerned agree it was the making of him as a frontman.

Fraternity would eventually morph into popular Adelaide blues & boogie band Mickey Finn, who released their sole album in 1980. Fraternity/Micky Finn bass player Bruce Howe would later join Jimmy’s solo band and play on his massive first solo album Bodyswerve.

This recording, of Fraternity in June 1975, performing the track “Floyd’s Hotel” from the J.Geils Band’s second Atlantic Records album, The Morning After, captures Jimmy and the boys on their home turf – and Chisel’s home turf – at the legendary Largs Pier Hotel. It’s a rocking cover and that Barnsey vocal is immediately recognisable.

We’ll end with a rocking “Baby, Please Don’t Go” from Mickey Finn’s 1980 album to give you an idea of where Jimmy might have ended up if he hadn’t have rejoined Chisel. Then we’ll have a listen to the J.Geils Band themselves tearing through a version of “Floyd’s Hotel” from ’73, the year after the original was released. Rock on!

Mickey Finn | “Baby, Please Don’t Go”

J.Geils Band | “Floyd’s Hotel”

Catch up on more of your favourite local Aussie classics with our Glory Days Of Aussie Pub Rock playlist on Spotify:

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