Southern Sons

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Southern Sons
Origin Melbourne, Australia
Genres Rock, pop rock, soft rock
Years active 1990–1995
Labels Wheatley Records, RCA Records, Sony BMG
Past members Jack Jones
Virgil Donati
Phil Buckle
Geoff Cain
Peter Bowman

Southern Sons was an Australian band active in the early 1990s, formed by members of The State along with lead vocalist and guitarist Irwin Thomas, who was then billed as 'Jack Jones'. They are best known for their top ten hits "Heart in Danger", "Hold Me in Your Arms", and "You Were There".


Southern Sons was created as a direct result of songwriter and guitarist Phil Buckle's collaboration on six of the twelve songs on John Farnham's Chain Reaction album in 1990. Buckle's group The State was signed to manager Glenn Wheatley's label Wheatley Brothers Records, and had released one album, Elementary.

Hearing Farnham's treatment of his songs, Phil Buckle wanted to replace himself as lead vocalist and recruited John Farnham soundalike singer and guitarist Jack Jones, who had auditioned for the band previously but was considered too young. Jones' claim to fame prior to that was playing in a Van Halen cover band, Hans Valen.

The State became Southern Sons after the addition of Jones and made its public debut as support act for Farnham's Chain Reaction Tour, with Buckle and Jones also having played on the album, doing double duty as members of Farnham's backing band.

Southern Sons - album[edit]

1990 saw the release of their debut self-titled album, Southern Sons (which spawned three top ten hit singles) and a five-track EP, Train Tracks, released to coincide with Buckle and Jones' return to Southern Sons' duties after a European tour with Farnham.

Nothing But the Truth and Zone[edit]

Their second album in 1992, Nothing But the Truth, came with the departure of guitarist Peter Bowman. After three singles including "You Were There", one of three Phil Buckle songs in the Sydney Dance Company production of Beauty and the Beast, Nothing But the Truth was re-released, with different cover artwork featuring a new look Jack Jones, to include the single "Silent Witnesses". Southern Sons' third and final album, Zone, was released in 1995, self-produced with former member Peter Bowman. Its lead single, "Don't Tell Me What's Right", featured vocals from Men At Work's Colin Hay.

Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) certified Nothing but the Truth as gold for more than 50,000 copies sold within a year after its release.[1]

Jones reunited with Farnham in 1999 for his I Can't Believe He's 50 Tour and the Tour of Duty Concert for peacekeeping Australian troops in Dili, East Timor.

Buckle has collaborated with several Australian artists such as John Farnham, Rick Price and Rob Mills. Buckle co-wrote many of the songs from Farnham's albums Chain Reaction (released 1990) and Then Again... (released 1993), the most famous song being "Burn for You", which was the ARIA Song of the Year in 1991.


Lead vocalist Jones was married to New Zealand-born Australian actress Rebecca Gibney from 1992–1995. The marriage ended in divorce. He reverted to his birth name of Irwin Thomas some years ago, and has recorded under that name with a new band. He also was in a band with INXS member Gary Beers called Mudhead, which released one album. From 2004 until 2011, he was involved with Melbourne band Electric Mary, releasing new music independently. He left Electric Mary in 2011 and relocated to New York City.

Jones and Virgil Donati were part of Tina Arena's backing band for her In Deep tour.

Donati is currently living and working in Los Angeles, running clinics and recording with a variety of artists including Steve Vai. He was a member of U.S. rock band Soul Sirkus in 2005. He also formed progressive metal/jazz fusion band Planet X in 2000 as well as touring with Allan Holdsworth since 2012. He has performed on many other artists albums as a session musician.

Geoff Cain spent several years living in Spain, then returned to Australia. He is now living back in Warrnambool with his family, and is involved in his local music scene.

Peter Bowman left the band before the release of Nothing But the Truth. Since leaving Southern Sons, Bowman has pursued songwriting and record production in the independent music sector, most notably working with Debra Byrne on her Sleeping Child album.


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album ARIA chart positions[2]
1990 Southern Sons 5
1992 Nothing But the Truth 26
1995 Zone

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album ARIA chart positions[2]
1993 Truth (European release)

Singles & EPs[edit]

Year Single ARIA chart positions[2]
1990 "Heart in Danger" 5
1990 "Always and Ever" 16
1991 "Hold Me in Your Arms" 9
1991 "The World is Mine" (European release)
1991 Train Tracks (EP) 40
1992 "Lead Me to Water" 36
1992 "Sometimes"
1993 "You Were There" 6
1993 "Silent Witnesses"
1995 "Don't Tell Me What's Right" (with Colin Hay)
1996 "Trust in Me"

Video albums[edit]

Year Album ARIA chart positions[2]
1991 Southern Sons: The Video

Music videos[edit]

Year Song Director
1990 "Heart in Danger" Craig Griffin
1990 "Always and Ever" Lance Reynolds
1990 "Hold Me in Your Arms" Craig Griffin
1991 "Waiting for That Train" Neil Stone, Robbie Blackburn
1992 "Lead Me to Water"
1992 "You Were There"
1995 "Trust in Me"

Other appearances[edit]

Year Song Album ARIA chart positions[2]
1990 "Heart in Danger" All the Rage
1991 "Hold Me in Your Arms" music video The Best of '91: All Australian Artists (VHS)
1991 "Hold Me in Your Arms" Here We Go '91
1991 "Always and Ever" Wiggle 'N' Sweat '91
1993 "The Little Drummer Boy" The Spirit of Christmas 1993
1995 "You Were There" Music from Blue Heelers (Television soundtrack)


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