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John Farnham
, 1996

by Polly Borland

type C photograph (image: 49.4 cm x 39.3 cm)

John Farnham AO (b. 1949), singer-songwriter, tasted his first success in 1968 with the throwaway single 'Sadie'. He was voted Australia's King of Pop five years in a row between 1969 and 1973, when he also appeared in a variety of stage shows and musicals. His career stalled for the second half of the 1970s. He formed a band and went back on the performance circuit from 1982, briefly as the lead singer of the Little River Band, before returning to the charts with a version of the Beatles' song 'Help' in the mid-eighties. The solo record he released in 1986, Whispering Jack, became Australia's first CD album and the nation's biggest-selling album to date, going platinum 17 times on the domestic market alone. He was Australian of the Year in 1987; his albums Age of Reason (1988) and Chain Reaction (1990) both debuted at number 1. The genial Farnham remains one of Australia's best-loved celebrities, finishing high on the list of the ABC'S My Favourite Australian poll in 2008.

Australian of the Year 1987

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2000
Accession number: 2000.7