Australia's Cold Chisel Gets New Management

John Watson, manager of multi-platinum acts Silverchair and Missy Higgins, and former EMI Music Australia CEO John O'Donnell will take over the management of Cold Chisel, effective today (Nov. 6).

Both admit to being fans from their teenage days of the iconic rock band, which emerged in the late '70s to become one of the biggest-selling and tour grossing acts in the domestic market.

"Cold Chisel loom incredibly large in the history of Australian music and in our lives," says Watson, whose John Watson Management also handles singer songwriter Pete Murray, dance producer Paul Mac and rock bands Little Birdy and Kisschasy.

"Their songs and their collective legacy have only grown in stature over the years and to work with them now, at a time of so much change in the music industry, opens up an exciting new set of challenges and opportunities."

Adds O'Donnell, "As a kid from the 'burbs, Cold Chisel were the authentic and dominant soundtrack of my youth. To be working with a band and a catalog that is arguably the best in Australian music history and teaming up with Watson to help steer them into the future is a great honour."

In September, the band's long time manager Rod Willis - who took over their affairs in 1977 - tendered his resignation. Keyboardist and main songwriter Don Walker said of Willis, "When we joined up with Rod we were an unknown band. Rod has been like a brother to us for thirty two years".

The appointment comes as Cold Chisel prepare to return to the road next month. The band first split in 1983 at the peak of their success, leading singer Jimmy Barnes to embark on a successful solo tour. The line-up reformed in 1998 behind a successful tour and a chart-topping album "The Last Wave Of Summer" (FMR/Warner) and in 2003, for another sell-out run of dates.

The act sold 3 million units over seven albums, according to Warner Music Australia, much of it after their initial split. Hits such as "Khe Sanh," "Flame Trees" and "Choir Girl" remain staples on rock and oldies radio. But Chisel's catalog is not available digitally, nor has it been used for synch opportunities.

Chisel are confirmed to play at the V8 Supercars inaugural Sydney Telstra 500 race Dec. 5. Sources tell that an announcement of a full-blown tour is imminent. No new recorded product is planned, says Warner Music Australia.