Jimmy Barnes, Nick Cave and Paul Kelly Recognized in Australia Day Honors

AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
Nick Cave arrives at the photo call for the film In 20,000 Days on Earth during the Berlinale International Film Festival on Feb. 10, 2014 in Berlin.

Jimmy Barnes, Nick Cave and Paul Kelly have been recognized in the Australia Day honors. 

The exalted trio were all appointed as Officers of the General Division of the Order of Australia, and were among the 958 people from various industries and communities announced to the Australia Day honors roll, published each year on Jan. 26. 

Barnes, frontman with legendary rockers Cold Chisel, was recognized for “distinguished service to the performing arts as a musician, singer and songwriter, and through support for not-for-profit organizations, particularly to children with a disability”.

Born in Glasgow and raised in the northern suburbs of Adelaide in the ‘60s, Barnes is an Aussie icon, the country’s “working class man,” and a singer with a voice so fierce and distinctive, few would dare emulate.  Barnes’ 2016 solo album Soul Searchin’ (Liberation Music).gave the rocker his 15th career No. 1 Down Under (including 11 solo and four Cold Chisel LPs).  Only Beatles John Lennon (17, including three solo), George Harrison (16, including two solo) and Paul McCartney (16, including two solo) have had more No. 1s in Australia.

Barnes said he was “humbled” by the accolade. “Well, as you might have heard, I just got a letter from the government,” he wrote. “The letter said that I was one of the people getting an Australia Day honor. I just wanted to say thank you to whoever decides these things of course, but more importantly, those who have worked so hard and sweated with me at all the shows that I have done over the last forty odd years.” 

Cold Chisel’s career was celebrated with induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1993, while Barnes was recognized as a solo artist with induction in 2005. Barnes also can add “best-selling author” to his blog thanks his warmly-received 2016 memoir, Working Class Boy

Nick Cave, currently touring Australia in support of his new album Skeleton Tree, was honored for “distinguished service to the performing arts as a musician, songwriter, author and actor, both nationally and internationally, and as a major contributor to Australian music culture and heritage”.

Cave, like Barnes, has left his wild-man days behind him. But his reputation as an alternative-rock heavyweight and a master of the darker-edged stuff is very much intact. Cave forged his reputation leading The Birthday Party, The Boys Next Door, Grinderman and The Bad Seeds, his long term act with whom he’s currently touring Australia. 

Cave’s new Australian Music Prize-nominated album Skeleton Key was written and recorded in the wake of his teenage son Arthur's death in 2015. The LP opened at No. 1 in Australia, No. 2 in the U.K. and No. 27 in the U.S. for Cave’s highest chart entry on the Billboard 200.  A celebrated author (And the Ass Saw the Angel, The Death of Bunny Munro) and writer for the screen (The Proposition, Lawless), Cave was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2007.

Kelly, revered as one of Australia’s greatest songwriters and noted as a tireless spokesperson on indigenous issues, was feted for “distinguished service to the performing arts and to the promotion of the national identity through contributions as a singer, songwriter and musician.” The prolific singer, songwriter and author (his autobiography How to Make Gravy was published in 2010) was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1997, and during the 2011 APRA Awards Kelly was honored with the Ted Albert Award For Outstanding Services To Australian Music, one of the highest accolades in the Australian music biz. 


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