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Nicholas "Nick" Paul Barker is an Australian singer-songwriter and guitarist who formed a rock, power pop band, Nick Barker & the Reptiles, in March 1988. Their cover version of Cockney Rebel's "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" reached the top 30 on the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Singles Chart in November 1989. They provided two top 40 albums on the related ARIA Albums Chart, Goin' to Pieces (1989) and After the Show (1991). He formed another group, Barker, in 1993, and their single, "Time Bomb", was listed at No. 20 on Triple J Hottest 100 for 1994.[1] Barker then went solo from 1995.

Nick Barker
A man is shown in three-quarter side profile. He is singing into a microphone on it stand while playing a guitar. He wears a red t-shirt and jeans. Behind him are stage lights and an amplified speaker.
On stage, Queensland, February 2003
Background information
Birth nameNicholas Paul Barker
OriginMelbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • Musician
  • singer-songwriter
  • Bass guitar
  • vocals
  • guitar
Years active1980–present
Associated acts


Nicholas Paul Barker left secondary school in the late 1970s and started an apprenticeship in a workshop.[2][3] He was the bass guitarist for a succession of Melbourne-based bands starting with the Curse during 1980–1981 and 1982–1983, during the summer of 1982–1983 he played and recorded with Beachouse.[4] Also in the Curse's line-up were Adrian Chynoweth on guitar, Nique Needles, John Rowell and Graeme Scott.[5] He moved to Reptile Smile with Chynoweth and Nick Cross, Rick Hawkins and Tony Hawkins during 1983–1984.[5] Then Freak Power with Chynoweth, Needles and Scott before joining, the Wreckery, a rock and blues group in December 1985.[6]

The Wreckery had formed earlier in 1985 with Robin Casinader on drums, piano, Hammond organ, guitar and violin (ex-Plays with Marionettes, Horla), Edward Clayton-Jones on guitar, organ and vocals (ex-Fabulous Marquises, Plays with Marionettes, Horla, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), Tadeusz O'Biegly on bass guitar, Hugo Race on vocals and guitar (ex-Plays with Marionettes, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) and Charles Todd on saxophone, organ (ex-Wild Dog Rodeo, Cattletruck).[5][7] Barker performed on their releases, Yeh My People (mini-album, 1986), Here at Pain's Insistence (1987), The Collection (compilation, 1988), and Laying Down Law (1988) but he had left early in 1988, before the latter appeared.[7]

Barker moved to lead guitar and lead vocals when he formed, Nick Barker & the Reptiles, a rock, blues and power pop band in March 1988 with former band mate Chynoweth on guitar; and Drew Basford on bass guitar and David Pinder on drums.[6][8] They signed to Mushroom Records' White Label imprint.[6] Their debut single, "Another Me", appeared in December.[6] Chris Harris joined the group on harmonica. Also during 1988 and 1989 Barker was a member of Hugo Race and the True Spirit and Mark Seymour and the Daydreamers on bass guitar.[5]

Nick Barker & the Reptiles released their debut album, Goin' to Pieces, in August 1989, which peaked into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Albums Chart at No. 35.[9] It was co-produced by Jim Faraci (Femme Fatale), Mark Moffatt (Mental As Anything, Midnight Oil) and Chris Bailey (ex-The Saints).[5]

Penelope Layland of The Canberra Times observed, "Patchy production mars this debut album from [the group]. Their music really relies on its rough and rude edge, and without it, loses much of its appeal... [it] is hardly a dismal failure, [they] just haven't quite come up with the goods. You can only make so many excuses for a debut album. After that it comes down to the fact that a patchy album costs just as much as a great one."[10]

The band's cover version of Cockney Rebel's "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" reached the top 30 on the ARIA Singles Chart in November.[6][9] They undertook a touring schedule with 200 performances a year on the national pub rock circuit.[6] Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, described how "[their] sassy brand of commercial rock'n'blues found immediate acceptance... [by] becoming one of the archetypal Oz Rock pub bands of the era."[6] In 1990 Matthew Heydon joined on keyboards and Marc Scully (ex-Love Rodeo, Deadly Hume) replaced Basford on bass guitar.

Their second album, After the Show (March 1991), was produced by Los Angeles-based, Joe Hardy (Steve Earl, Tom Cochrane), which peaked at No. 33.[6][5][9] McFarlane opined, "it was a diverse collection of songs, ranging from tough rock'n'roll and bar-room boogies to ballads."[6] The Canberra Times' John Lilley felt, "they have well and truly strayed from the norm by not only promptly releasing a second album but making it a worthy one as well... [their] sound has not been forcefully smoothed out beyond recognition in the recording studio. Their enthusiastic live sound has been allowed to seep through."[11]

None of After the Show's three singles charted into the top 50.[6][9] "Out in the Open" appeared in February 1992 and was followed by an extended play, Loose, in April. Its tracks were used as fill music on the TV program, Nine's Wide World of Sports.

After a hiatus and overseas travel, Barker returned to Melbourne and disbanded the Reptiles in 1993. He formed Barker with ex-Reptile Heydon, and Venom Brown on drums (ex-Massive Appendage), Tim Henwood on guitar and Anthony Ragg on bass guitar (ex-Kings of the Sun). They released three singles and an album, Happy Man, in 1994 and followed with Son of Happy Man (EP) in 1995. Of their singles, "Time Bomb", was voted No. 20 on Triple J Hottest 100 list for 1994.[6]

Barker's solo career started with the album, Damn Mermaids (1996), and two singles, his backing band were Lincoln Jones on bass guitar and Craig Whitelock on drums. His second solo album, Annie Get Your Guru appeared in 1999. Barker continued to perform solo and acoustic — or accompanied by a keyboardist or harmonica player — into the 2000s. His 2001 release, Returned Service, had acoustic tracks culled from a number of live performances in different Australian cities. Barker signed to Croxton Records, an imprint co-founded by former Weddings Parties Anything front man, Mick Thomas. Barker became popular in Brazil and released, Sanctuary – Best of, there in 2002. In 2003, he released Backyard Six which featured a musical response to the Bali bombings, "Plait Your Hair". In 2005 Barker re-did his earlier songs as part of the Liberation Blue Acoustic Series on C-sides.

Since 1997 Barker has branched into acting roles including minor appearances in TV series, Blue Heelers and Pizza, and appearing in a role in Amy, a feature film, alongside Rachel Griffiths, which was produced by David Parker and Nadia Tass. He also penned and performed songs for its soundtrack, which included work by Ed Kuepper, Lamb and Philip Judd, (ex-Split Enz).

In addition to his own recording and touring commitments, Barker has produced young Adelaide rock act, Southpaw. Barker has written tracks, recorded and performed with Mark Seymour (Hunters & Collectors), Paul Kelly, and You Am I front man, Tim Rogers. Matt Heydon of the Reptiles went on to Jimmy Barnes' band, Marc Scully later joined Ratcat, and Tim Henwood of Barker later joined the Superjesus and the Androids. Barker toured with Rogers, including to United Kingdom and Europe; he toured in Jimmy Barnes' band for the New Zealand leg of the in the Heat of Night tour, during 2006–07.

In November and December 2010 and the following February, Barker performed in a musical theatre show, The Ultimate Rock 'n' Roll Jam Session, with James Blundell, Dave Larkin, Ezra Lee and Doug Parkinson.[12][13][14]

In March 2011 Barker played at the Whorouly Hotel Beer Garden to mark the first of its type in the revitalised pub. Barker's band comprised Michael Barclay on drums, Alan Brooker (ex-Paul Kelly and the Dots) on bass guitar and Justin Garner on lead guitar. It was organised by Troy Wood and publicans, Graham Wood and Jennifer Garrett. According to Geelong-based music critic, Rokdog (Chris Nicholls) it was an early contender for 2011 gig of the year. During July of that year he took the lead role of Bon Scott in a musical, Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be – The Story of Bon Scott, premiering at Melbourne's Athenaeum Theatre.[3][15]

Barker fronted the Heartache State, a group formed with Garner and Brown in 2014. They released a self-titled album in March 2015.[16] In September 2017 they issued their second album, Last of the Buffalo.[17] Barker observed, "It really feels like a band now, loose but with a lot of spirit. Making it was easy and fun, and that’s what playing music was always supposed to be…we love the bloody thing!!!"[17]



Nick Barker & the Reptiles
  • Goin' to Pieces (August 1989) White Label Records/Mushroom Records (L30097, D30097, MUSH32256.2)[5]AUS #35[9]
  • After the Show (March 1991) White Label Records/Mushroom Records (D30513, MUSH32257.2)[5] – AUS #33[9]
  • Happy Man (1994) – AUS #57[9]
  • Damn Mermaids (1996)
  • Annie Get Your Guru (1999)
  • Returned Service – Live Acoustic Album (2001)
  • Sanctuary – Best of (Brazil only compilation, 2002)
  • Backyard Six (2003)
  • C-sides (2005)
  • Black Water Blues (2009)

Extended playsEdit

Nick Barker & the Reptiles
  • Loose – EP (April 1992)
  • Son of Happy Man (1995)


Nick Barker & the Reptiles
  • "Another Me" (1988) – AUS #67[9]
  • "(Sure Beats) Goin' to Pieces" (1989) – AUS #87[9]
  • "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" (1989) – AUS #30[9]
  • "Resurrection Time" (February 1990) – AUS #86[9]
  • "Won't Get You Loved" (1991) – AUS #53[9]
  • "Can't Hold on" (1991) – AUS #84[9]
  • "Miles to Go" (1991)
  • "Out in the Open" (1992) – AUS #81[9]
  • "Bend Not Break" (2018)[18]
  • "Heard So Much About You" (1994) – AUS #88[9]
  • "World's a Peach" (1994)
  • "Time Bomb" (1994)
  • "Imogen" (1996)
  • "Someone Like You" (1996)


  • McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Whammo Homepage". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-072-1. Archived from the original on 5 April 2004. Retrieved 5 February 2010. Note: Archived [on-line] copy has limited functionality.
  • Spencer, Chris; Nowara, Zbig; McHenry, Paul; Nimmervoll, Ed (2002) [1987]. The Who's Who of Australian Rock. Noble Park, Vic: Five Mile Press. ISBN 1-86503-891-1.[19] Note: [on-line] version of The Who's Who of Australian Rock was established at White Room Electronic Publishing Pty Ltd in 2007 and was expanded from the 2002 edition. As from September 2010 the [on-line] version showed an 'Internal Service Error' and was no longer available.
  1. ^ "Triple J Hottest 100 – 1994". Triple J (Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)). Archived from the original on 26 February 2009. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  2. ^ "'Action Jackson' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 15 November 2017. Note: For additional work user may have to select 'Search again' and then 'Enter a title:' or 'Performer:'
  3. ^ a b Laird, Bruce. "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be - The Story of Bon Scott". Beat Magazine. Furst Media. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  4. ^ "'Soul by Soul' by Beachouse (Beach House)". 28 August 2010. Retrieved 15 November 2017 – via YouTube.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Australian Rock Database entries:
    • Nick Barker: Holmgren, Magnus. "Nick Barker". Australian Rock Database. Magnus Holmgren. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
    • Hugo Race and the True Spirit (1988–89): Holmgren, Magnus. "Hugo Race". Australian Rock Database. Magnus Holmgren. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
    • Mark Seymour and the Daydreamers (1988–89): Holmgren, Magnus. "Mark Seymour". Australian Rock Database. Magnus Holmgren. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2017. Note: source incorrectly spells last name as Semour in that band's name.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k McFarlane, 'Nick Barker and the Reptiles' entry. Archived from the original on 28 August 2004. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  7. ^ a b McFarlane, 'The Wreckery' entry. Archived from the original on 9 August 2004. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  8. ^ Spencer et al, (2007) "Barker, Nick" entry.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Australian (ARIA) chart peaks:
  10. ^ Layland, Penelope (30 November 1989). "Music: Cacophony Should Be Seen to Be Believed". The Canberra Times, Good Times. 64 (19, 776). p. 9. Retrieved 15 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  11. ^ Lilley, John (25 April 1991). "Reptiles Don't Know Times Are Tough". The Canberra Times. Good Times. 65 (20, 466). p. 15. Retrieved 15 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  12. ^ "The Ultimate Rock 'n' Roll Jam Session". Fox Media Marketing (Clive Fox Photography). Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  13. ^ "Win Tweet Seats to the Ultimate Rock 'n' Roll Jam Sessions". 774 ABC Melbourne (Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)). 29 October 2010. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  14. ^ Kary, David (22 February 2011). "The Ultimate Rock 'n' Roll Jam Session". Sydney Arts Guide. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  15. ^ "Nick Barker says in a video that it's a privilege to play AC/DC's Bon Scott in new show". The Daily Telegraph. News Corp Australia. 12 July 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  16. ^ "Nick Barker". Mushroom Music Publishing. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  17. ^ a b "Nick Barker's The Heartache State Preps Last of the Buffalo Album". Paul Cashmere, Ros O'Gorman. 31 July 2017. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Who's Who of Australian Rock / Compiled by Chris Spencer, Zbig Nowara & Paul McHenry". catalogue. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 15 November 2017.

External linksEdit