Best known for his stint fronting the chart-topping Australian rockers Powderfinger, Bernard Fanning has also hit number one as a solo artist. Fanning was born August 15, 1969, in Brisbane. He joined Powderfinger at the behest of St. Joseph's College economics classmate Ian Haug, who co-founded the group in 1989. Originally slated as a guitarist, Fanning was soon awarded lead vocalist duties, charting the group's evolution from covers to original material.
After a pair of independent EPs, Powderfinger (so named in honor of the classic Rust Never Sleeps track by Neil Young, a seminal influence) signed to Polydor in 1994 and issued their debut LP, Parables for Wooden Ears. With the 1996 follow-up, Double Allergic, the band went double-platinum at home, subsequently notching a series of Australian chart-topping LPs including 1998's Internationalist, 2000's Odyssey Number Five, and 2003's Vulture Street. Also in 2003, Fanning made his feature film debut in Ned Kelly, contributing a solo performance to the movie soundtrack. Despite success in the U.K. and Europe, Powderfinger remained virtual unknowns in the U.S. market, and in 2005 the band went on hiatus.
In October of 2005, Fanning issued his debut solo effort, Tea & Sympathy. Charting a folk and singer/songwriter direction, the album nevertheless scored hits with the singles "Wish You Well" and "Songbird." He put his solo career on hold briefly when Powderfinger reunited for a sixth album, Dream Days at the Hotel Existence, which topped the Australian chart in 2007. The band also toured heavily, including a tour with Silverchair named Across the Great Divide, whose goal was to increase awareness of indigenous concerns. Powderfinger released another album, 2009's Golden Rule, but while it hit number one, it was their last.
Fanning wrote songs and spent time with his family during the early 2010s, then finally emerged in 2013 with his second solo album, Departures. In contrast to his first solo album, this one was relatively rock-heavy; it easily reached number one in Australia. Civil Dusk, released in 2016, returned him to the folk sound of Tea & Sympathy. No surprise, it hit number one in Australia, and spent more than a month in the Top Ten. ~ Jason Ankeny