Barnesy Talks to Lisa Wilkinson About His Troubled Past And Rise To Fame

Aussie rock legend Jimmy Barnes opens up to Lisa on The Project about his recent stage fall, tumultuous family life and the documentary that tells his story.

The working-class hero of Aussie rock'n'roll is bouncing back from an on-stage fall and knockin' on the door of the film industry to tell his inspiring and deeply personal rags-to-riches story on The Project on Sunday.

Just days ago, Barnes fell off stage in the middle of a show in NSW, almost breaking his leg and now confined to a wheelchair. But not even this could dampen the spirits of the Aussie-Scottish rock star, who has opened up to Ten's Lisa Wilkinson on his tumultuous past and tell-all documentary Working Class Boy. 

The interview will air on The Project at 6:30pm on Sunday.

Just minutes after falling through a gap on stage this week -- an accident which put him in a wheelchair -- the star carried on busting out lyrics.

"I nearly broke my leg … but I managed to get up and I limped back."

"'The show must go on’ ... luckily for me people hardly noticed because I scream that much anyway: ‘God he’s screaming really well tonight,'" he told Wilkinson.

And now, Barnes is busting our a new rhyme, bravely opening up about his life's journey, including his violent childhood, recounted in a tell-all documentary.

Set for release on August 23, the documentary sees Barnes open up on his father's dangerous alcoholism, violence and neglect towards him and his five siblings and mother, and the experience that almost saw his father kill a man.

"My big sister got attacked out in the back of one of these apartments. This guy tried to rape her and they caught him. And Glaswegian justice. The police were ... at the time my dad was featherweight champion boxer of Britain and he was hard. They took my dad down to the jail and they put him in the cell with this guy who tried to attack his daughter and left them there for an hour. My dad nearly beat him to death," he said in the film.

Barnes told Wilkinson that his mother abandoned him and his siblings, leaving them with his violent father.

The family hoped a move from Glasgow to Australia, which ultimately catapulted Barnes into the limelight, would curb his father's violence, alcoholism, womanising and gambling.

But his father's violence only worsened with their move to Adelaide, ultimately forcing Barnes' mum, Dot, to leave,  never to come back.

"I just woke up one day and she was gone," he told Wilkinson. "This is what makes me angry you see. She left because it was too abusive a relationship to be in and it was dangerous for her, but she left us there still in the same danger.

"She left us with a man who couldn’t cope while she was there raising children. When she went away we were so neglected ... all my siblings, we’re all wounded from it."

His mother's abandonment resulted in sexual abuse, excessive drinking, poverty and even starvation. But it was this tumultuous family life that soon led to a wild adolescence that gave way to Barnes' ultimate love of music, after he saw Ike and Tina Turner playing live.

"I remember seeing them that night and thinking, 'That’s what I’m going to do, it’s really what I’m going to do'," he told Wilkinson.

And pursue music he did, in 1973 joining a group called Orange, later changing their name to Cold Chisel - now, one of Australia's biggest rock acts.

"If I hadn’t have been as wild as I was I wouldn’t have been in a band, I wouldn’t have been in Canberra on the 29th of November 1979 at the Motel Seven and bumped into Jane Barnes, Jane Mahoney," he told Wilkinson.

"Everything led me to where I am ... You can look back and say, 'Well I’m maybe not proud of it', but you can’t regret it."
Catch The Project from Sunday to Friday at 6.30pm on Ten and on Tenplay.