JIMMY BARNES 1984 – 2019


Lay Down Your Guns – (J Barnes/ R Nowels) and Let’s Make It Last All Night (J Barnes/ D Warren/ D Child) – Jimmy Barnes 1990

By June 1990 Barnes solo career needed a lift, his last #1 hit had been Too Much Ain’t Enough Love in 1987 and although his albums were still charting well, he needed to hit the singles charts again, Michael Gudinski arranged for him to meet the legendary Ahmet Ertegun the founder of Atlantic Records. (below)


This was a company with an incomparable roster of soul greats including Aretha Franklin, Solomon Burke, Sam and Dave, Percy Sledge, Wilson Pickett, and Otis Redding. Barnes would be inhabiting the studios of singing greats who had inspired him, he signed a contract with Atlantic Records, and hooked up with producer Don Gehman to work on his next album, Two Fires.


Barnes would turn to some of the best songwriters in the USA to find new material, as front man for Cold Chisel Barnes had been on the receiving end of great original material developed by his bandmates, particularly Don Walker with occasional contributions from Phil Small, Ian Moss and Steve Prestwich, in 1990 he hooked up with celebrated American songwriter Rick Nowels (below) to write Lay Down Your Guns.


Nowels had written songs for Belinda Carlisle, Stevie Nicks, Madonna and Rod Stewart and would win a Grammy Award for his work with Celine Dion on her Falling Into You album in 1997.

don gehman

On the production side was Don Gehman (above) who had previously worked with John Mellencamp, Chicago, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Blood Sweat and Tears, and Aussie acts Diesel and Hunters and Collectors.

One of Jimmy’s best rockers.

Lay Down Your Guns was a hard-rocking song with a sweaty pub rock vibe, very much Cold Chisel revisited, it was recorded at Rhinoceros Studios (Syd) and Chapel Sudios, Encino (Calif.). The lyrics concern a couple reconciling their differences, disarming themselves to find peaceful co-existence when they can express their love for each other, the chorus gets right to the point,” All the pushing and the shoving/ When we know that we ought to be loving/ And the lying and the cheating/ When we know that we ought to be loving and squeezing/ Come on, come on/ Lay down your guns and surrender.”

Several celebrity guitarists feature in support – Mark Lizotte (Diesel) above right, and Brian Setzer (Stray Cats) above left, Jeff Neil, Todd Sharp, and Wally Stocker; Tony Brock on drums, Jimmy Haslip (bass), Kevin Saviger (keyboards), Jimmy Roberts (sax), with additional harmony vocals from Wendy Fraser, Marcie Levy and Portia Griffen. It was a hit in Australia (#4) and in NZ (#2) and restored Barnes chart fortunes, he quickly followed up with Let’s Make It Last All Night, another song on which Barnes worked with several Americans who were songwriting royalty- Desmond Child and Diane Warren.(below)

diane warren

Desmond Child was a legendary songwriter/producer who had already collaborated with Barnes on Waitin’ For The Heartache (’88), and he was joined by Diane Warren who had nine US Billboard #1 hits and 32 top ten hits to her credit including Solitaire (Laura Branigan), How Can We Be Lovers (Michael Bolton), If I Could Turn Back Time (Cher), Un-Break My Heart (Toni Braxton) and Rhythm Of The Night (DeBarge).

An underrated Childs/Warren classic, great vocals by Barnes and the backup singers, a hot sax solo at the bridge, was icing on the cake.

The song was well constructed hard rock and focused on a couple having just one more night of passion “Just before your touch has turned to ice/ Baby give me one more taste of paradise/ Let’s make it last all night.” It was the second single lifted from the Two Fires album and charted #12 in November 1990, Jimmy Barnes was on the way to becoming one of the three most successful male solo performers in Australian rock history along with John Farnham and Johnny O’Keefe.


Two Fires sold over 400,000 copies and became Barnes fifth consecutive #1 album following the live album Barnestorming which was also a #1 hit in 1988, but Jimmy’s personal lifestyle was hectic and drug-fueled. He was spending and borrowing large sums of money on extravagant lighting and sound systems, a sprawling palatial mansion called the White House in the Southern Highlands (NSW), and a collection of exotic cars, while a rapidly-mounting unpaid tax bill would threaten one of the things he valued most-  his family’s financial security.


In his 2017 memoir Working Class Man Jimmy described how he felt like his life was lived between two fires – the career inferno he had built with his professional success and a raging drug addiction, and the other a fire that burned for the love of his family, Jane and their children Mahalia (born ’82), Eliza -Jane (’84), Jackie (’86), and Elly-May (’89).

In 1983 at the age of ten David Campbell (above left with Barnes) was identified as Barnes first child, born in 1973 and raised by his maternal grandmother thinking she was his mother, and later discovered that the person he had known as his sister, was his birth mother. In 2010 two additional Barnes progeny would be identified, both born in the 1970’s, Amanda Bennett (’73) above left and Megan Torzyn (‘74) above right, would also become part of the Barnes clan after Jimmy voluntarily underwent paternity tests, which proved positive.

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