Australia’s most popular musical icon John Farnham, better known as “the Voice”, has had an amazing and expansive career that has spanned almost half a century. Having moved to Australia from Essex, England.
when he was 10 years old, his family encouraged John’s passion for music from an early age. Granting him his first musical instrument at age 7 in the form of a four-string plastic guitar.
Academia never being a strong suit for Farnham, he dropped out of school and started working as a plumber’s apprentice. Feeling somewhat unfulfilled, he made plans to leave his plumbing apprenticeship for a two-year hiatus to pursue his singing career. At age 18 he was signed to a record deal and a star was born.
‘Sadie the Cleaning Lady’, his first single, was the highest selling single at that time. Between the years of 1967 and 1973 John released a string of hit singles. He also starred in a few musicals including Pippin, Charlie Girl and Dick Whittington and his Cat.
From the mid ’70s onwards, Farnham experienced a lull in his career. With his record label dropping him, he resorted to nightclub appearances and cabaret performances. It wasn’t until 1980 that a stunning version of the Beatles song ‘Help’, sung on national TV, placed him back in Australia’s musical consciousness.
In July that year he released his comeback album Uncovered. It was well received with audiences and critics alike. It was then that he joined The Little River Band as their frontman, replacing lead singer Glenn Shorrock.
He left The Little River Band after only three years to pursue a solo career, which kicked off with the massive hit single ‘You’re the Voice’. The following year saw the release of legendary album Whispering Jack, which remains to this day the highest selling album in Australia by an Australian artist.
Since then John Farnham has toured the world more than a dozen times over. He has performed to sell-out crowds all across Australia, starred in the hit musical Jesus Christ Superstar and has released a plethora of albums that have all reached gold or platinum status.
I was in love with Johnny Farnham. I can honestly say he was my first “boyfriend”. In 1974, it was rumoured that Johnny Farnham was coming to sing at the local Bayside Shopping Center in my home town of Frankston. My friend Sue and I were beside ourselves with excitement & the shopping center was packed with people on the day of his performance. We pushed our way as close to the stage as possible while Johnny sang “Raindrops keep falling on your head”, we were in heaven! He then proceeded to throw records “singles” of “raindrops” into the crowd. I remember our small hands trying to reach for them when one bounced on my head & Sue promptly caught it.
Johnny Farnham singing “Sadie” & “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” (1960’s)