On 15 August 1969, Bernard Fanning was born. He would go on to become the lead singer of Queensland alternative rock band Powderfinger.
Born and raised in Toowong, Brisbane, Fanning was taught the piano by his mother at an early age. At the age of 15, while attending St Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace, he began writing music.
Upon graduating from St. Joseph’s Fanning moved on to the University of Queensland, where he studied journalism for a short time. He dropped out to pursue a music career, after meeting Ian Haug in an economics class. Fanning joined Haug, John Collins, and Steven Bishop, who had recently formed Powderfinger, and took the role of lead singer.
After Bishop left and guitarist Darren Middleton joined, the band released five studio albums in fifteen years and achieved mainstream success in Australia. During Powderfinger’s hiatus in 2005, Fanning began his solo music career with the studio album Tea & Sympathy.
Powderfinger reunited in 2007 and released two more albums before disbanding in late 2010.
While Powderfinger’s style focuses on alternative rock, Fanning’s solo music is generally described as a mixture of blues and acoustic folk. He plays guitar, piano, keyboards, and harmonica both when performing solo and also with Powderfinger.
Often speaking out against Australian political figures, Fanning has donated much of his time to philanthropic causes. He is an advocate for Aboriginal justice in Australia.
Fanning has performed numerous philanthropic tasks independently and with Powderfinger. The band played at the 2005 WaveAid concert to raise money for victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, and the Across the Great Divide tour in 2007 to promote the efforts of Reconciliation Australia.
Fanning has contributed to charities including A Just Australia and Youngcare Australia, and donates his time to youth detention centres in Brisbane running songwriting workshops.
In an uncharacteristic outburst, Fanning once referred to fellow Australian artist Ben Lee as “a precocious little c**t”, after Lee referred to himself as “the saviour of Australian music”. Fanning later apologised for the comment.
Fanning married Andrea Moreno in February 2007 in Brisbane. Moreno is from Spain, where the two met while Fanning was writing and recording Tea & Sympathy in Europe. This relationship followed a twelve-year union Fanning had had with his previous girlfriend.
It was this break-up (along with the then-recent death of his older brother) which influenced much of the lyrical content and sombre atmospheric mood of Tea & Sympathy.
Through Moreno, Fanning has learned to speak some Spanish. Fanning and Moreno have performed together while Powderfinger was on hiatus and Fanning was touring as a solo artist.
Fanning is a supporter of cricket and National Rugby League (NRL) club the Brisbane Broncos.