Jimmy Barnes beats U2, Madge and Elton John
JIMMY Barnes is now officially bigger than Madonna and U2. And Elton John.
The revered rocker has created Australian pop chart history with the No. 1 debut of his new album My Criminal Record.
It is his 12th No. 1 solo album, eclipsing Madonna and U2 who had been sharing the title with Barnes with 11 No. 1s until My Criminal Record was released on May 31. He has four other No. 1s with Cold Chisel.
The Working Class Man was in a race to the top with the Rocketman soundtrack from Taron Egerton and Elton John.
Despite the momentum behind that soundtrack thanks to the box office-busting film, the love for Barnes and his deeply personal record proved stronger with Australia's music fans last week.
The album is a collection of songs inspired by his best-selling memoirs Working Class Boy and Working Class Man which revealed the harrowing childhood which shaped the singer who would enter Australian rock lore with Cold Chisel and then in his own right as a solo artist.
"The record is a good way of saying I have worked through a lot of stuff now, I can move forward. I think it shows you that the things you think are your darkest secrets are shared by a lot of people," he said.
He spent last week at instores sharing stories with fans, including one at his hometown of Elizabeth, South Australia which loomed large in his childhood memories as the place where he suffered abuse and abject poverty.
The album's first single Shutting Down This Town paid tribute to the spirit of the town which continues to struggle in the wake of the death of Australia's car manufacturing industry.
Barnes said he feared some locals may not have welcomed the spotlight he has put on the town but his visit there last week revealed exactly the opposite reaction.
"I haven't been critical of the people of Elizabeth in the books but how tough my upbringing was there," he said.
"I got there and one person after another came up to say 'I hope you know how much we love you, we hope you can see that.'
"One guy told me he had worked for Holden for 35 years and it was all pulled away from him but he feels the song has given him his voice back.
"It's great to have a No. 1 record but to give people their voice back is special and incredibly emotional."
Barnes assembled his family at their home in the NSW Southern Highlands for a BBQ to celebrate and plan their next move.
His wife Jane and children Mahalia, Eliza Jane, Jackie and Elly May, son-in-law Ben Rodgers and musician mates Don Walker, Troy Cassar-Daley and the Living End's Chris Cheney were among those who contributed to the record.
"We'll have a family conference this weekend to discuss what we are going to do next," Barnes said.
"I feel this is the start of something and my best is yet to come."
Barnes heads out on the national Shutting Down Our Town tour in September and is currently writing his third book of stories from his rock'n'roll life.