Jimmy Barnes is not only one of Australia’s most beloved entertainers and rock icons, but also one of its most successful. After finding fame as the frontman of Cold Chisel, Barnesy embarked on an extremely popular solo career.

With nine Number 1 albums to his name, Barnesy has the highest number of hit albums of any Australian artist. However, as the singer himself recently revealed, even at his financial peak he struggled to keep his head above water.

Recently sitting down with comedian and artist Anh Do for the ABC’s Anh’s Brush with Fame, Barnesy recounted how he accrued massive amounts of debt during the ’80s by over-borrowing from banks who were more than happy to lend to him.

Coming from a working class background, Barnesy explained how he wanted his kids to have all the advantages he had, which resulted in rampant spending. The singer also purchased homes for his parents and family members.

When the ’90s hit and interest prices went up, Barnes was in serious trouble and was forced to tour virtually non-stop in order to pay back the loans. “I was earning 5 or 6 million dollars a year and it wasn’t enough,” he tells Anh Do in the clip below.

“I didn’t go broke. I was on tour and I was constantly on tour to keep my head above water. To pay all these bills from all this debt I’d accumulated,” Barnes explains. There’s a valuable lesson there, especially if you only earn $300k like most Aussie musos.

Get unlimited access to the coverage that shapes our culture.
to Rolling Stone magazine
to Rolling Stone magazine