In this age of social media celebrities appear to be more accessible than ever before. Fans have the opportunity to interact with their favourite stars through online activities such as reading tweets and viewing pictures. In exchange, the stars are able to gain more followers which helps them to sell themselves as a brand. I have had a few celebrity encounters. For the most part they are pleasant experiences, however the one that stands out for me is meeting Jimmy Barnes. In fact, I've been fortunate enough to have met him twice.
I have long been a fan of Jimmy. I remember Cold Chisel being on the radio when I was a young child. My parents rarely listened to music in the house, but my dad would have the radio on in the dairy when he milked the cows. Cold Chisel was one of the first bands I was exposed to over the airwaves and I have fond memories of listening to them while helping with the milking. During my teenage years, my music appreciation progressed to Jimmy as he embarked on his solo career.
His appeal reaches far and wide. He has an endearing way of relating to the Aussie battler. Having adopted Australia as his home country he projects a sense of pride through his songs. The familiar shout of "Barnsey" can often be heard when his songs are played, especially with his iconic anthem "working class man".
My two encounters with "Barnsey" were both at his book signing tours in Shepparton. On both occasions I waited eagerly in a queue with other excited fans as one by one we stepped closer to this Aussie rock great. I took note of his demeanor. As each fan approached with their books open he looked up and spoke to them, making small talk. He smiled as he signed every book. He was courteous and polite, no keeping his head down, no grunting or mumbling. Here was a music legend without a hint of arrogance addressing every fan as an equal.
At one point as he waited for a fan, he looked up. I happened to be in a part of the queue where my view of him was unobstructed. He smiled at me. It was only for a moment, but it was my moment. A few minutes later I was at the front of the line. All of a sudden I felt like that little girl on the farm again. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined having a conversation with the front man of Cold Chisel as he signed his book for me.
People have been known to say that it's not a good idea to meet your idols because it's rarely what you expect and it can lead to disappointment. However, in the case of Jimmy Barnes, nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is he an Aussie rock icon but he's also a genuinely nice bloke.