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Cold Chisel Reflect on 50 Years of Music and Friendship

In the latest episode of 'Behind The Rolling Stone Cover', sponsored by Shure, Rolling Stone AU/NZ Editor-in-Chief Poppy Reid sits down with Cold Chisel’s members to look back at their iconic 2011 cover

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You can’t talk about Australia’s rock scene without mentioning Cold Chisel. Over decades, they’ve etched their name into music history as one of the country’s best pub-rock bands, known for massive hits like “Khe Sanh”, “Flame Trees”, and “Cheap Wine”. They dominated the ’70s and ’80s, before releasing their ‘final’ album, Twentieth Century, in 1984, before Jimmy Barnes hit the ground running with his mega successful solo career.  

But, as we all know, the band’s story didn’t end there. 

Cast your mind back to 2011. Cold Chisel had reunited and set off on their largest tour since the ’80s, ‘Light The Nitro Tour’, which saw the band perform all over Australia and New Zealand. That year, they also released their entire catalogue, including 56 rare and unreleased tracks, digitally for the first time. It was a triumphant return, marked by the group’s second appearance on the cover of Rolling Stone

But the year was also bittersweet. While preparing for their national tour, the band was also dealing with the tragic loss of their drummer, Steve Prestwich, who passed away unexpectedly in January of 2011. 

In the latest episode of ‘Behind The Rolling Stone Cover’, sponsored by Shure, Rolling Stone AU/NZ Editor-in-Chief Poppy Reid sits down with Cold Chisel’s members – Jimmy Barnes, Ian Moss, Don Walker, and Phil Small – to look back at that iconic 2011 cover and share their thoughts on 50 years of music and friendship. 

They reflect on touring back in the heyday of touring in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Barnes tells Reid about the relentless pace of life back then, and how different it was to the now healthy habits they’re adopting in the lead up to their 50th Anniversary tour in 2024. 

“Everything I did was fast and hard and loud and I just didn’t stop,” Barnes remembers. “It was sort of a bit of a haze, because everything was moving so fast and I didn’t want to miss a thing.” 

That time of their lives is something the band looks back on fondly – even the parts that didn’t go so smoothly, like their attempted break into the American market, a journey fraught with frustration and missed opportunities. Barnes recounts their encounter with Elektra Records and the infamous Marty Schwartz. 

“He was the guy that was our entry to America,” Barnes tells Reid. “The first thing we found out when we walked into his office, [they’d sent] the lead single of the album, ‘They Chosen My Baby’, out to radio wrapped in baby diapers,” Barnes says. “It was a great interpretation of what they thought of us,” Small adds. “I just think they didn’t know what the band was about.”

In the podcast episode, Cold Chisel also tell Reid about Barnes’ emergency open heart surgery in 2023, the friendship formed through decades of performing together, and the devastation they felt when Steve Prestwich suddenly passed away. 

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