Swanee (singer)

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John Swan
Swanee (2011).jpg
Swanee in 2011
Background information
Birth nameJohn Archibold Dixon Swan
Also known asSwanee
Born (1952-03-15) 15 March 1952 (age 69)
Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hard rock
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, drums
Years active1966–2014
Associated acts The Party Boys
Cold Chisel
Jimmy Barnes
David Campbell
Website www.swanee.com.au OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

John Swan OAM (born 15 March 1952), better known as Swanee, is an Australian rock singer.


He was born John Archibold Dixon Swan in Glasgow, Scotland in 1952. He is the older brother of singer-songwriter Jimmy Barnes, and Alan Barnes, and is the uncle of stage performer David Campbell.

In 2015, Swan was announced as South Australia's Senior Australian of the Year. [1] and in 2017, was appointed an Order of Australia Medal (OAM).


1952-1978: Early life and bands

John Swan migrated to Australia with his family in 1961. 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. Swan joined his first professional band, Happiness, as a drummer when he was fourteen. When he was seventeen, he enlisted in the Australian Army, and was discharged after two years of service. In early 1974 he was the drummer with The James Wright Band, moving on to Jim Keays' Southern Cross for a short time.

In 1975 he joined Adelaide band Fraternity MK II replacing Bon Scott on vocals for two years. In 1977, Swan became the vocalist with Feather. This band had been known as Blackfeather in the early 1970s, but by 1977 no original members were left so the name was shortened. Feather recorded one single with Swan, "Girl Trouble", before he left in 1978 to establish himself as a solo artist.

1979-1986: Solo career part 1

Under the name Swanee by which he was already known, Swan released his debut solo single "Crazy Dreams" in 1979. An album, Into the Night, and several other singles followed but met with little commercial success.

In late 1981, his version of "If I Were a Carpenter" became a national hit, peaking at number 5. The single was followed by the 1982 studio album This Time It's Different that spawned another two hits, "Temporary Heartache" and "Lady What's Your Name".

In 1986 Swanee featured in an advertising campaign for West End Draught, a South Australian beer. The brewer provided financial support to Swanee's tours and he in turn appeared in the company's TV commercials.

1987-1989: The Party Boys

In 1987, Swanne replaced Angry Anderson as lead singer of The Party Boys, a touring band with floating membership, formed in 1983 by Paul Christie of Mondo Rock. Swan's tenure with the band proved to be the group's most successful period. A cover of the John Kongos song "He's Gonna Step On You Again" peaked at number 1 on the Australian charts. The band's self-titled album made the Australian top 20. Swan remained with the band until 1989 before going solo again.

1990-present: Solo Career part 2

Since 1990 Swan's recording career has been less than prolific, producing only two singles that year, including a cover of Little Richard's "Lucille" for the The Delinquents film .

In 1997, Swan released Heart and Soul.

In 2007 Swan released the album Have a Little Faith (Liberation Records). The project was recorded with producer /guitarist Mark Moffatt.

In 2009 he worked with fellow Australian artists, Ray Burgess, Tommy Emmanuel, John St Peeters and Marty Rhone to release the single, "Legends of the Southern Land". [2]

In July 2014 Swanee released the album One Day at a Time.


Studio albums

List of albums, with Australian chart positions
TitleAlbum detailsPeak chart
Into the Night
  • Released: October 1980
  • Format: LP
  • Label: WEA (600076)
This Time It's Different
  • Released: June 1982
  • Format: LP, Cassette
  • Label: WEA (600121)
  • Released: April 1985
  • Format: LP, Cassette
  • Label: Starcall Records (SFL1 0126)
Heart And Soul-
Have a Little Faith
(As John Swan)
  • Released: 2007
  • Format: CD, DD
  • Label: Liberation Music (LIBCD9236 2)
One Day at a Time
  • Released: 2014
  • Format: CD, DD
  • Label: Swanee (SWAN001)

Live albums

List of albums, with Australian chart positions
TitleAlbum detailsPeak chart
Ready for Action! Live in the Snow
  • Released: October 1983
  • Format: LP, Cassette
  • Label: WEA (250241.1)

Compilation albums

List of albums, with Australian chart positions
TitleAlbum detailsPeak chart
Days Gone By - The Best of Swanee
  • Released: October 1984
  • Format: LP, Cassette
  • Label: WEA (251477-1)


List of singles, with Australianchart positions
YearTitlePeak chart
Credited as Swanee
1979"Crazy Dreams"68non album single
"Samantha"-non album single
1980"Ol' Rosie"-Into the Night
"If I Were a Carpenter"5This Time It's Different
"Samantha" (re release)93non album single
1982"Temporary Heartache"18This Time It's Different
"Lady What's Your Name"13
1983"Sail Away"52non album single
"Motor Down"-Ready for Action! Live in the Snow
1984"I'm Ready" / "Carrie-Ann"22non album single
1985"You Ought to Know By Now"-Bushido
"Turn Away"-
Credited as John Swan
1985"Say You'll Do Something"-non album single
"It Could Have Been You"-non album single
1986" (I'm In Love With An) Angel"-non album single
"West End Girls"-non album single
Credited as Swanee
1990"Lucille"- The Delinquents (soundtrack)
"Blood is Thicker Than Water"-non album single
2009"Legends of the Southern Land" [2]
(with Ray Burgess, Tommy Emmanuel, John St Peeters and Marty Rhone)
-non album single

Other singles

List of singles as featured artist, with selected chart positions
YearTitlePeak chart positions
1985"The Garden"
(as Australia Too)

See also

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  1. 2015 SA Australian of the Year Recipients Announced, australianoftheyear.org.au, 12 November 2014
  2. 1 2 Pascuzzi, Carmine. "'Legends of the Southern Land' – a new Australian anthem". MediaSearch. Archived from the original on 19 October 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 302. ISBN   0-646-11917-6.
  4. Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 22. ISBN   0-646-11917-6. N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA between mid-1983 and 19 June 1988.