Australian Celebrities

Jimmy Barnes and David Campbell’s relationship is a testament to unconditional love

It didn’t take long for the presenter to know his dad was “emotionally committed”.
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Trigger warning: This article deals with the topics of abuse and family violence. If you or someone you know has been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, help is always available. Call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit their website.

It’s no secret that David Campbell didn’t have the most conventional upbringing. For the first nine years of his life, The Today Extra host was unaware that his dad was rockstar Jimmy Barnes.

But when David was born in 1973, the Cold Chisel singer felt incapable of being a dad.

WATCH NOW: David Campbell sings with his dad Jimmy Barnes. Article continues after video.

In 2018 Jimmy described his childhood as “abusive”, “violent” and “traumatising” to our sister publication WHO, explaining that, growing up, he thought this was “normal”, according to Over 60.

At five years old, the Barnes family moved from Scotland to Australia in what Jimmy has since deemed an attempt to escape their problems.

“[My parents] were running away from stuff without dealing with it … they came 12,000 miles and had the same problems [in Australia] they had in Glasgow. If anything, their problems got worse.”

RELATED || Jimmy Barnes’ health worsens as rock singer rushed into open heart surgery

As a teen, Jimmy has admitted he made some bad choices and was also “hanging around in gangs and fighting”.

“But I didn’t want to kill people,” the singer also told WHO.

“My mates didn’t give a s–t. They didn’t care if they killed people. What did they have to lose? No doors were opening for us.”

Jimmy has revealed that at the time David was born, he was in no state to be a father. (Credit: Getty)

Then, when he was just 16, Jimmy welcomed his first son David Campbell into the world.

Admitting he was in no state to be a father at the time, he left David in the care of his maternal grandmother. In the first nine years of his life, David was told that his mother Kim was actually his sister and Jimmy was merely a “family friend”.

“David came along, he was born, and it was decided that her mother was going to look after David, and she brought him up, I wasn’t capable of doing it anyways, I was 16, I was completely out of control,” Jimmy told ABC Radio’s Conversations.

“I guess I ran away from the responsibility of [being a parent]. I just felt like I was dying [felt overwhelmed] I thought there were no prospects, no hope,” he shared with the publication. 

“It was just a matter of time before I died. That’s why I was trying hard to flee.”

Over the years, Jimmy and David have formed a close father-son bond. (Credit: Instagram)

Amid Jimmy’s self-described spiral, at the age of 17, he was thrown a lifeline when he joined the band Cold Chisel, to great success.

“I think if music hadn’t come along, I’d have run away to Melbourne, where I might have ended up in more trouble. Or I might have wound up dead.”

As Jimmy got on the right track, he felt more equipped to be a father. In the lead-up to Jimmy’s true identity being revealed to David, the rocker would visit his son under the guise of being a “family friend”, explaining that maintaining the ruse was “really difficult”.

“By the time I was ready to really be a parent was many, many, years later. But I always knew I had a son, and I would go and visit, I wasn’t allowed to say I was his dad because the grandmother just wanted to protect him, I guess, but it was really difficult,” he told Conversations.

The Barnes family looked as close as ever while on holidays in the Maldives. (Credit: Instagram)

David officially found out that Jimmy was his father when he was 10 years old, telling The Father Hood that he was “emotionally rocked” by the news.

“Lightning struck that day for me,” he said.

But for the performer, realising his sister was really his mother was more of a shock, explaining to ABC’s Talking Heads that it “opened up a whole Pandora’s box of emotions”.

The presenter has since revealed that “not having direct time” with his dad in his “formative years” affected his own fatherhood journey.

“I really wanted to make sure I was a strong presence in my children’s lives. It’s vitally important for me to be around. I want my kids to know that I’m here for them,” David divulged to The Father Hood.

In the same interview, the now 50-year-old said that when his dad came into his life he soon “knew deep down” that he was “emotionally committed” to the renewed relationship.

These days, Jimmy and Jane are devoted grandparents. (Credit: Instagram)

And we’ve definitely seen first-hand the strong familial bond that Jimmy and David have formed over the years, as well as David’s bond with Jimmy’s other children, Mahalia, Elly-May, EJ, and Jackie, whom Jimmy shares with his wife, Jane.

Their personal bond has even extended into the professional realm, with the father and son having performed together on Dancing With The Stars and Carols By Candlelight, as well as recording duets for each other’s studio albums.

These days, Jimmy is also a devoted grandfather to David’s children, Leo, and twins Billy and Betty, whom the Today Extra host shares with his wife, Lisa.

If you or someone you know has been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, help is always available. Call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit their website.

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