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Nick Barker is an Australian singer songwriter known for his evocative lyrics. Starting out with Melbourne punk band The Wreckery, Barker then formed his own rock/power pop band Nick Barker and The Reptiles in the late 1980s.[1][2] Signed to Mushroom Records' prestigious 'White Label' imprint (created by Michael Gudinski as a condition imposed to get the signatures of Hunters & Collectors into his Mushroom stable), The Reptiles put out two albums, Goin' to Pieces (1989) and After The Show (1991) and one rare EP, Loose',' tracks from which are still often heard as fill music on TV Sports programs such as Wide World of Sports.

After a period of hiatus and overseas travel, Barker returned to Melbourne, disbanded the Reptiles, and pursued a solo career via labels within the Mushroom Records group (almost all the Reptiles' original material had been penned almost entirely by him). Barker moved into indie territory with his acclaimed solo albums Happy Man (1994), Damn Mermaids (1996), and Annie Get Your Guru (1999).

A prolific live touring performer, Barker has often performed solo and acoustic (or else accompanied by only a keyboardist or harmonica player) and has an excellent reputation for a charismatic stage presence, crowd interaction and banter. This led to the 2001 release of a live and acoustic album entitled Returned Service, with acoustic tracks culled from a number of live shows in different Australian cities. This was his first release outside the Mushroom Records umbrella, and coincided with the full sale of the Mushroom business to Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd by Michael Gudinski - a number of other prominent artists defected from Mushroom at this time including sometime Barker collaborator Paul Kelly. Barker signed to Croxton Records, an imprint co-founded by former Weddings Parties Anything frontman and now solo performer Michael (Mick) Thomas.

Barker remains very popular in Brazil (this is not altogether uncommon for Australian artists including Men at Work), and released a Brazil-only 'best of' entitled Sanctuary in 2002. In 2003 he released an album entitled Backyard Six which featured what is perhaps the finest Australian musical evocation of the Bali bombings yet, Plait Your Hair.

In 2005, Barker was invited to join a select group of distinguished Australian songwriters to re-do their own songs retrospectively as part of the Liberation Blue Acoustic Series, a group which also includes Stephen Cummings, Chris Bailey, Mark Seymour, Mick Thomas & Joe Camilleri.

Since 1997, Barker has also branched out into acting roles including appearances in Blue Heelers, and Pizza, leading up to a starring role opposite Rachel Griffiths in the 1998 Australian film Amy, created by the acclaimed team of David Parker & Nadia Tass. He also penned and performed a number of songs for the soundtrack, which also featured artists including Ed Kuepper, Lamb and Philip Judd, formerly of Split Enz.

In addition to his own recording and touring commitments, he is presently producing young Adelaide rock act Southpaw. He also performed a ‘surprise’ show at the wedding of a long-time fan in suburban Wattle Park, Melbourne in early 2006.

A number of things distinguish Barker’s songwriting and creative output:-

ʈFirstly, he is something of a “songwriter’s songwriter,’ and has developed a coterie of prominent industry peers with whom he frequently writes, records and performs. These have included Mark Seymour of Hunters & Collectors, the aforementioned Paul Kelly, and most recently You Am I frontman and solo artist Tim Rogers.

ʈSecondly, he has a knack for producing one overwhelmingly evocative stand-out lyric per album, which may not necessarily end up as a single, and on at least one occasion (‘Spirit Level’ from his 1989 release) has been a b-side that keeps reappearing as Barker’s sound or musical compatriots develop and change. ‘Miles to Go’ (co-written with Paul Kelly filled this role on the Reptiles’ ‘After the Show.’ ‘Time Bomb’ from his 1st solo release ‘Happy Man’ performed very well in the 1994 Triple J Hottest 100. And so on, and so it goes…

ʈThirdly, his backing bands have been training grounds for future instrumentalists who have gone onto bigger acts such as Matt Heydon of the Reptiles who went onto join Jimmy Barnes’ band, Marc Scully (also of the Reptiles) who later joined Ratcat, and Tim Henwood of the eponymous ‘Barker’ who later joined the Superjesus and the Androids.

Barker now frequently tours in conjunction with Tim Rogers, particularly to UK & EU destinations and was recently touring in Jimmy Barnes' band for the New Zealand 'In the Heat of Night' tour 06/07.


Nick Barker & The Reptiles

  • Goin' to Pieces (1989)
  • After the Show (1991)
  • Loose - EP 1992)

• Happy Man (1994)
• Damn Mermaids (1996)
• Annie Get Your Guru (1999)
• Returned Service – Live Acoustic Album (2001)
• Backyard Six (2003)
• C-Sides (2004)
• Black Water Blues (2009)


  1. ^ McFarlane 'Nick Barker and the Reptiles' entry. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
  2. ^ Spencer et al, (2007) Barker, Nick entry. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
  3. ^ "Who's who of Australian rock / compiled by Chris Spencer, Zbig Nowara & Paul McHenry". catalogue. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 5 February 2010. 


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