On July 7 in small-town Nyngan, NSW, singer-songwriter Shannon Noll took to the stage at the Duck Creek Picnic Races. The seasoned musician was set to perform a selection of his best known hits, covers, and a handful of tunes from his new album, Unbroken.
But as Noll’s band started playing the instantly recognisable opening bars from Daryl Braithwaite’s “The Horses”, Noll didn’t sing along. Instead, he unleashed a barrage of F-bombs at one unruly audience member, stunning yet firing up the crowd with a rant that began, “F--king private school stupid f--khead mother--ker, have some f--king balls and get up here and I’ll punch your f—king teeth down your throat out the back.”
Footage of the angry, expletive-laden incident was captured and swiftly uploaded to Facebook the next day. The video went viral, forcing the usually affable Noll to respond with a lengthy and remorseful statement on July 8. “I would like to apologise for my behaviour and language,” he wrote. “During our set there were people in the audience throwing cans and bottles at the stage and after one guy threw a full can, just missing my head, it really rattled me.”
Noll went on to explain that just last year, his band experienced a similar incident involving a firecracker, which resulted in serious injuries for one of Noll’s band members.
“You don’t have a lot of deep vision into the crowd from the stage and it’s pretty scary to see something suddenly flying straight at you,” he added. “I completely understand that that is still no excuse for the way I spoke and I am deeply sorry for the terrible things I said that were purely out of frustration.”
The tirade was just the latest bump on a roller-coaster life for Noll, 42, whose second-place finish to Guy Sebastian in the first season of Australian Idol endeared him to the public as a worthy battler. Opening up to WHO’s Pete Timbs, Noll addressed the January 2017 incident in which he was charged with two counts of assault for attacking a bouncer at the Crazy Horse strip club in
Adelaide. Although those charges were dropped three months later, the story made front-page news and the damage was done.
“Lots of people jumped to lots of conclusions,” Noll tells WHO. “I was just stoked that the truth came out and that there was no evidence. I was the only one that got bashed that night and that
I didn’t do anything that warranted getting arrested.”
Proclaiming his innocence in public was just one part of the experience.
Noll also had to discuss it with his family—his wife of 13 years, Rochelle Ogston, and his children, sons Cody, 17 and Blake, 15 and daughter Sienna, 11. “I said, ‘Look, it’s going to be out there and just I want you to know what actually happened and the situation,’ ” Noll says. “I took full responsibility for it with the kids. In saying that, I explained to them too that I was no means in the wrong at all, I’d been wronged, and that was the case.”
Noll concedes it was “all new territory” for him to have that kind of heart-to-heart. “That’s all I could really try to do,” he adds. “Explain what happened, why it happened, and don’t believe what anyone’s saying.
Just ask me and I’ll tell you.” Noll has credited his time on I’m a
Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here, where he placed second to Fiona O’Loughlin in March, with helping him get ahead of naysayers. But he reveals to WHO that dealing with trolls “mentally is hard. With social media these days there’s no repercussions for anything anyone says because they’re faceless, nameless people—it’s sad and a real concern.” Yet with a new baby on the way, the
“What About Me” singer says he’s moving on with his trademark humour still intact. “People will make their own mind up on whatever falsities that are thrown in front of them,” he says, “but as the saying goes, s--t happens.”
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