A Reason for Hope: The Story of David Campbell

11 April 2020

4.7 MINS

Some time ago, a young father sent me this incredible story about David Campbell. David is the son of the iconic Aussie singer Jimmy Barnes. David Campbell happens to be a singer himself, and a co-host on the ‘Today Extra’ show on Channel Nine. Read the full story here.

Watch the performance below, of a father and son capturing the raw emotion of this story. If you don’t know anything about David Campbell, the illegitimate son of Jimmy Barnes, read the story below first to understand the incredible chemistry of the performance in the video below.

My father (Jimmy Barnes) has, one could say, a reputation of being the hardest partying rock star Australia has produced. So much so that one of his most iconic images is from his Cold Chisel days, sweaty, microphone in one hand, half-drunk bottle of vodka in the other. As he told me today on the phone “I should have frightened you off booze”.

Except it didn’t. It kind of had the opposite effect.

Due to a number of circumstances, he wasn’t around during my formative years, and that image is what I had, as a young boy in my stubby shorts in Adelaide, as what you do. How you behave in the industry. And why wouldn’t you? He is a legend. Everyone loves Jimmy (so they should — he is one of the best men I have ever met). He was my hero. As all fathers should be… or should try to be.

Now, he’s been very public about his battle with addiction and his subsequent rehabilitation. And as a musician, his story is far from uncommon.

Being in the music industry you are given lots of booze. For free! Now this is fun and exciting. Except when it’s not. Then it’s horrible and you feel like a bit of a jerk. Then you have a drink with friends, laugh about your jerky ways, they take the piss… you grab another drink and it’s all good right?

I definitely went for it. I was a part of our “booze culture”. Was I an alcoholic? No. Did I have the propensity to become one? Yes. Very much so. There is addiction on both sides of my family, and I was standing at the doorway of a very dark room.

Then last year, on the day of my holiday with my wife, Lisa, and son, Leo, I had a hangover. A bad one. The day we had to leave, Leo, who was then three-and-a-half years old, turned to Lisa and said “Daddy isn’t well” and something much worse than my bad hangover happened.

I felt shame. I couldn’t stand by and watch this be normalised with the next generation. I wanted to be a role model for him. I wanted to be the best father I could — I still do. So I quit alcohol, and I have never been happier. Now a year on, I have tripled my number of children and my resolve…

I don’t want my kids to grow up to think drinking is wrong, but I sure as hell don’t want them to grow up thinking that getting drunk is expected of them. I changed my habits so that they have an example of someone who doesn’t drink. In doing so, I hope I’ve stopped the cycle of alcoholism in my family.

I am not judging anyone who drinks. Not in the slightest — but why can’t having a drink be an option, rather than the expectation?

Recently David Campbell did an interview with The Father Hood, which is a great blog for dads. This was what David Campbell had to say:

“When I became a parent, myself I realized that I needed to be mirroring what I want my kids to be. You obviously want your kids to be Version 2.0 of you. But if the version that you’re putting out there is rubbish, well, then they’re just going to lap you in their teens…

“So, I look at myself and I try to be better. And a lot of that really is to do with Leo and Billy and Betty. I want them to never have to worry about their dad. I always want them to be able to trust who I am. And I want them to know that I started off as a bogan kid from Adelaide with a chip on his shoulder who had way too much energy and was highly anxious and used that energy to get on stage. But that wasn’t me forever. I changed and grew into something else.

“It’s not like I’m superman. Every day I don’t know if I’m going to wake up and have an anxiety attack or a panic attack. Every day I don’t know if I’m going to make the wrong decision. But what I do know is that I can reduce that risk by not drinking booze, by being conscious of how I eat, by spending conscious time with my kids where I’m not on my phone all the time. Then I feel like I’ve done the right thing for that day and that’s all I can do.”

What can Dads4Kids say but, “Bravo David Campbell. Your courage and commitment give us all reason to hope for a better future for our children.”


I should have realised that David Campbell was different when he gave such a sympathetic interview with Aaron Dickson, the young father behind the viral “Best First Date” YouTube video, that now has over 15 million views and climbing.

Check out this video of David Campbell singing a duet with his father Jimmy Barnes. Such moments, along with David Campbell’s most recent comments, give hope in a seemingly hopeless world.


The good news is, we are still in the midst of celebrating the Easter long weekend, one of the most hopeful Holy-Days of the year. Yes, this Resurrection Sunday we have reason to celebrate the hope of all hopes, and His name is Jesus, a story all our children need to hear.

Happy Hopeful Holidays,
Warwick Marsh

PS: Last Thursday night’s Dads4Kids Date with Destiny was a transformative experience for all those who attended. The challenge of the coronavirus is bringing out the best in us all. It is a difficult time, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Men from all over Australia and other parts of the world shared some brilliant ideas to help their fellow men get through the coronavirus crisis. We are open to more ideas if you have them, at info@dads4Kids.org.au

The good news is that the team at Dads4Kids are starting an online Zoom Courageous Fathering Course. See 3-minute promo video here:


The normal cost for this course done on Udemy is $204.99. Udemy mostly discount the course a lot lower than this, but the Dads4Kids price with online Facilitator and done in a small group setting online will be $21.00. The link to register for the course which starts on Monday, 20 April 2020, at 8 p.m. is https://www.trybooking.com/BJJMC. For more information, ring Peter Lim at 0439 66 716.

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