Cold Chisel are one of the most important bands of the seventies and eighties pub rock scene. They dominated the charts and venues all over the Country from the time they hit the charts in 1978 till their triumphant finale, the Last Stand Tour. I had the absolute pleasure of seeing them multiple times in a variety of venues from small, sweaty pubs like Sweethearts to large outdoor concerts. They were brilliant on any scale. The first time I saw them was at the Hordern Pavilion in 1978 as the support act for Foreigner. I’d never heard of them before but they had me from the first song!
They formed as “Orange” in Adelaide in 1973 with the original lineup being Les Kaczmarek on Bass, Steve Prestwich on Drums, Don Walker on Keys and Ian Moss on Guitar. Jimmy Barnes joined on vocals in late 1973 as a 17 year old. They had a number of lineup changes which saw Phil Small enter as bass player and John Swan briefly as backing vocalist and percussionist.
After building a loyal live following in Adelaide they briefly moved to Melbourne around May of 1976 chasing a bigger audience. By November of that year they had again relocated to Sydney all the while they were honing their song writing skills, Don Walker in particular. During this time John Swan had joined Feather (formerly Blackfeather) and in the middle of 1977 Jimmy Barnes announced that he was leaving Cold Chisel to join his brother John in Feather. The farewell gig apparently went so well that he changed his mind and decided to stay. The next month they were picked up by Warner.
Their first two albums were successful enough, with Cold Chisel peaking at number 31 and Breakfast At Sweethearts getting all the way to number 4. Even though they contained some of the bands most loved songs the band were never really happy with the way the albums were produced. A lot of the “raw edge” had been rubbed off in the recording process. The next album, East, was produced by legendary Australian producer Mark Optiz and got them all the way to number two.
They toured relentlessly across Australia and had a few tries at the US & European markets but it they didn’t really crack either market. Despite further recording and touring success there were some very volatile relationships within the band and they decided to split up in 1984. Their last tour, The Last Stand, was recorded and filmed and is Australia’s most successful concert film.
The band has reformed on a number of occasions since then and still performs today… but that’s for another article.
- Jimmy Barnes – Vocals
- Don Walker – Keys, Vocals
- Steve Prestwich – Drums
- Ian Moss – Guitar, Vocals
- Phil Small – Bass, Vocals
- Les Kaczmerek – Bass
- John Swan – Percussion, Vocals
- Ray Arnott – Drums
- Charley Drayton – Drums
More info on Cold Chisel members at the Australian Music Database.
- Cold Chisel – 1978
- Breakfast At Sweethearts – 1979
- East – 1980
- Swingshift – 1981
- Circus Animals – 1982
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Known gigs for Cold Chisel
|22/10/76||Bondi Junction||Bondi Lifesaver|
|09/02/78||Bondi Junction||Bondi Lifesaver|
|+ Johnny Dole and The Scabs|
|13/04/78||Moore Park, NSW||Hordern Pavilion|
|04/05/78||Bondi Junction||Bondi Lifesaver|
|18/05/79||Edensor Park||Marconi Club|
|+ The Lonely Hearts|
|25/05/79||Narrabeen||Royal Antler Hotel|
|+ The Lonely Hearts|
|+ The Hitmen, The Lonely Hearts|
|01/09/79||Coogee||Selinas – Coogee Bay Hotel|
|02/09/79||Penrith||Penrith Leagues Club|