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Meet Swanee!
05 Dec 2019

The true Australian 80s child will know Swanee anywhere, but do you know Swanee’s story? His fantastic legacy?

John Archibold Dixon Swan, AKA Swanee, was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 15th March 1952. He migrated to Australia with his family in 1961 and took up residence in Elizabeth, just on the outskirts of Adelaide. When his mother remarried in the mid-1960s, he was the only child to keep the surname of his biological father, who was an adept boxer. His younger brothers Jimmy and Alan Barnes took the surname of their mother.

In early 1974 he joined The James Wright Band as a drummer, and by the end of the year he joined the Adelaide band Fraternity as lead vocalist. His brother Jimmy Barnes joined the band and Swanee switched roles to drums, but eventually resumed his duties as lead vocalist after Jimmy Barnes left Fraternity to join Cold Chisel. During this time, Swanee played drums for Jim Keays’ Southern Cross. In 1976 Swanee moved on and left both bands to further his solo aspirations.

In late 1981 his version of “If I Were A Carpenter” became a national hit, reaching No. 5. The single was a precursor to the 1982 album “This Time It’s Different” which spawned the hit singles “Temporary Heartache” and “Lady What’s Your Name”, both of which propelled Swanee to national fame.

In 1987 he became the new lead vocalist for The Party Boys, a touring band with a floating membership that included Paul Christie, Richard Clapton, Marc Hunter, Alan Lancaster and Joe Walsh, among others. Swanee’s tenure with the band proved to be the group’s most successful period, with their cover of the John Kongos hit “He’s Gonna Step on You Again” being a No. 1 hit.

Swanee’s career slowed down during the 1990s, releasing only two singles and the album “Heart & Soul” in 1997. His next album would not be released until a decade later when he worked with producer Mark Moffatt on “Have A Little Faith”. Released in 2007 and under the name “John Swan”, the album was recorded with Nashville’s finest musicians who have played for Garth Brooks, John Fogerty, Shania Twain, Dolly Parton, Billy Joel, and many other top acts.

In 2014 Swanee released the album “One Day At A Time“, an entirely original work in collaboration with Darren Mullan from the Adelaide Recording Studio and Tony Minniecon on the song “Rescue Me”. In 2017 Swanee was recognised for his work with various charitable organisations with the Order of Australia Medal (OAM).

In 2017 Swanee was recognised for his work with various charitable organisations with the Order of Australia Medal (OAM). Later he teamed up with war veteran Rob Pickersgill to form the Warrior Music Project, which uses music to improve the lives of military veterans, police officers and first responders. Swanee has remained one of Australia’s best-known live acts for well half a century. He still has the same devotion to creating great music when he was young kid in Elizabeth, and continues recording and performing music for audiences across Australia and abroad. He’s worked with us now for nearly 10 years, which is a great honour! His work has made a big splash in The Aria Charts, as well as in our most nostalgic of memories!

Swanee is a Blue Pie Records USA artist and available at all leading digital retailers on the planet. Search “Swanee” or “John Swan” for more information.



Swanee | Awards | December 2019

  • South Australian Amateur Boxing Champion 1970
  • South Australian Music Hall Of Fame Inductee 2014
  • South Australia’s Senior Australian Of The Year Award 2015
  • Order Of Australia Medal (OAM) 2017


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