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David Campbell's real link to Bobby Darin

AAP logoAAP 27/09/2016 Danielle McGrane

David Campbell is facing his own past head-on in his latest musical role as US crooner Bobby Darin.

Campbell has always been open about his story. As a child he found out that the woman raising him was actually his grandmother and that his sister was actually his mother.

And, of course, his father is Jimmy Barnes.

All of this has risen to the surface again recently in Barnes' memoir Working Class Boy which details the time he found out Campbell's mum, Kim, was pregnant, and his subsequent visits to the house, initially as a sort of uncle figure to Campbell.

In a strange turn of events, Campbell is retelling that story on stage through music, only this time the story is Bobby Darin's.

"I've been obsessed with Bobby since the 90s since I lived in New York and was doing music there," Campbell told AAP.

In New York, Campbell was performing a well-received cabaret show and singing Darin's songs: Mack the Knife, Beyond the Sea.

Around the same time, Darin's son Dodd released a book about his father's life, which told a story startlingly similar to Campbell's.

Darin was also brought up by his grandmother, and was told his mother Nina was his sister.

"I started reading the book and it all came out and I'm like 'that's my story'. I didn't find out until I was 10, Bobby didn't find out until his mid-20s and his grandmother had died by then, so he had this great era of deception, and how that affected him really affected me," he said.

"I've done years of therapy that Bobby didn't do until later in life."

Campbell now has his chance to retell this story onstage in front of an 18-piece big band in Dream Lover - The Bobby Darin Musical.

It's a surprisingly poignant tale about the writer of 50s and 60s songs such as Splish Splash and Dream Lover, and the man who made Mack the Knife famous.

"I completely related to this and when you're a person who's gone through that it makes you feel like you weren't alone in the world," Campbell said.

There's something strange about the timing, as the musical coincides with the release of Barnes' book.

"That book (Working Class Boy) gave me tremendous closure about that period of time," he said.

"I've been open about how fractious my relationships has been with my father, because of that. And with all of my family because they all lied to me for 10 years. So that's a really hard thing to get your head around."

"Bobby never quite gets over it."

The musical is an Australian production, and the first to tell Darin's story.

"I'm not sure why no one else in the world has not thought about doing this story and this music, but it's ripe for the taking and Australia took it," he said.

The musical will soon open in Sydney, and it's early days yet, but there is potential for the production to travel.

While Campbell is a busy man, with a full-time presenting role on Nine's Today Extra show and a father of three, he would love to play Darin if the show ever makes it to the US.

"I don't know if I'll be doing it but I'll certainly wrestle anybody in jello for that role," he said.

* Dream Lover - The Bobby Darin Musical opens on October 6 at the Lyric Theatre at the Star in Sydney.

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