Early life and careerBorn in Dagenham, Essex, England (on the outer north-eastern suburbs of London), Farnham spent the first years of his life there before immigrating to Australia in 1959. An undistinguished student, he began a plumbing apprenticeship before taking leave from that to pursue music.
His first commercially-successful recording was a novelty song entitled "Sadie the Cleaning Lady", in 1968, which sold 180,000 copies in Australia, the largest-selling single by an Australian artist of the decade. The clean-cut pop star made several more successful albums, but by the 1970s his recording career began to dwindle and he turned to television, appearing in a situation comedy and narrating documentaries, whilst singing in clubs. He also performed in a number of musicals. His one recording hit in this period was a reworking of the Beatles "Help!" in 1980.
From Little River Band to national successFrom 1981 until 1984, he fronted the Little River Band after Glenn Shorrock departed, a move towards rock music away from the cabaret he had been doing. While there the group recorded three albums, which had some modest success, though not enough to pay back the advances the record company had given the band.
With the aid of manager Glenn Wheatley, with both under considerable financial pressure, he recorded Whispering Jack in 1986. It became the biggest-selling album in the Australian market of that decade, and one of the most successful of all time, selling over one million copies and remaining the number one album for 27 weeks in Australia. The biggest single off the album, "You're the Voice" was also a number one hit in several European countries. The album is probably best described as pop-rock, its most outstanding feature Farnham's soaring, powerful voice and some nicely-written songs (Farnham did not compose it).
In the early 90s Farnham performed the lead role in an Australian production of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, with Kate Ceberano, Jon Stevens, Angry Anderson and John Waters in the other leading roles.
Farnham released several more albums throughout the 1990s to considerable success, though not to the same enormous degree as Whispering Jack. In 1997, Farnham teamed with pop group Human Nature on "Everytime You Cry" which was one of the biggest selling Australian singles of that year. He remained Australia's most successful domestic live act, filling stadiums around the country on a regular basis. Some idea of his popularity can be gained by the fact that over his career, over 1 million tickets were sold for his shows at one 15,000 seat arena, Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena, alone.
In 2003, Farnham released a new album, The Last Time, and held a countrywide concert tour, taking a circus-style tent to smaller towns. As the title suggested, Farnham announced that he intended to cease large-scale concert tours .
Farnham married Jillian Billman in 1973.