From Aussie pubs to lavender fields in France, the legendary Cold Chisel guitarist travels like he performs – with soul (and a little drama). As told to Di Webster.
1980 | Europe
When I was 25, I went to Europe with [Cold Chisel bandmates] Phil Small and Steve Prestwich. It was my first overseas trip.
We went to London, Paris and Amsterdam. Steve got homesick for his girlfriend and left but I continued on with Phil.
One day in Rome, we parked in a side street and Phil left a bag with his passport and traveller’s cheques on the seat. The first thing we saw when we came back was the smashed window. We went to the police. Phil had a stud in one ear and the cop was touching him, going, “Bella, finocchio” [slang for gay man].
We kept going on what money I had. In Monaco, the Grand Prix was on. We parked the car and when we returned it was being hauled onto the back of a truck. The parking guys turned the corner and said, “All right, boys, how much money have you got?” It just about wiped out my funds.
1982 | Germany
It was November and getting cold; overcast all day. A ball of orange light would appear on the horizon and you’d think, “Great, the sun’s coming up,” but it would just sit there and then disappear. Cold Chisel had played Markthalle in Hamburg. From there, we drove to West Berlin – some of the guys in one car and myself, Phil and a local tour manager in another. He was an American who’d lived in Germany for 30 years.
Finally, out of the thick fog loomed the East German border – massive watchtowers with barbed wire and armed guards. It was all very ominous and oppressive. We got through but by nightfall we’d lost the other car. The tour manager had gone to sleep and when he woke up we were at Checkpoint Charlie, the notorious Berlin Wall crossing point. Soldiers searched the car, ran mirrors under it, checked to see if we were smuggling somebody across – the whole bit.
When they realised that we were Australian rock musicians, they relaxed but, boy, did we have a story to tell the rest of the guys.
2012 | France
My wife [Margeaux], my son [Julian, then nine] and I stayed with a friend who owns a ski chalet in Méribel in the French Alps. It was July – so clean, clear, crisp, fresh air. I had a go at paragliding. At the top of the mountain you strap yourself in front of this guy and ride the thermals all the way down the valley to a field.
From there, we were heading to Gordes in the south of France, where friends rented a cottage on a lavender farm. Packing up, I couldn’t find my passport.
I looked everywhere and went back to every spot I’d been to that day but no luck. We continued on and at the end of the holiday, Margeaux and Julian flew home and I went to Paris to chase up a temporary passport.
When I called to tell Margeaux I was on my way, she sounded very sheepish. “Ah, you know that dirty-clothes bag you wanted to look in and I insisted the passport couldn’t be in there? Guess what fell out when I emptied the bag in Sydney?” ￼
Top image: Daniel Boud