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Working Class Boy : A memoir of running away - Jimmy Barnes

Working Class Boy

A memoir of running away

Hardcover Published: 19th September 2016
ISBN: 9781460752135
Number Of Pages: 416

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Long before Cold Chisel, long before 'Barnesy', there was the true story of James Dixon Swan.

The time I have spent writing this book has caused me a lot of pain. Sometimes because of what I have remembered about my childhood and sometimes because of what I couldn't remember. It is funny how your mind blocks things out when those things can hurt you. There are a lot of things I wish I didn't remember...

A household name, an Australian rock icon, the elder statesman of Ozrock - there isn't an accolade or cliche that doesn't apply to Jimmy Barnes. But long before Cold Chisel and Barnesy, long before the tall tales of success and excess, there was the true story of James Dixon Swan - a working class boy whose family made the journey from Scotland to Australia in search of a better life.

Working Class Boy is a powerful reflection on a traumatic and violent childhood, which fuelled the excess and recklessness that would define, but almost destroy, the rock'n'roll legend. This is the story of how James Swan became Jimmy Barnes. It is a memoir burning with the frustration and frenetic energy of teenage sex, drugs, violence and ambition for more than what you have.

Raw, gritty, compassionate, surprising and darkly funny - Jimmy Barnes's childhood memoir is at once the story of migrant dreams fulfilled and dashed. Arriving in Australia in the Summer of 1962, things went from bad to worse for the Swan family - Dot, Jim and their six kids. The scramble to manage in the tough northern suburbs of Adelaide in the 60s would take its toll on the Swans as dwindling money, too much alcohol, and fraying tempers gave way to violence and despair. This is the story a family's collapse, but also a young boy's dream to escape the misery of the suburbs with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to join a rock'n'roll band and get out of town for good.

Industry Reviews

Nothing will prepare you for the power of Jimmy's memoir. A fierce, graphic, bawdy account of his working class childhood - truly harrowing , and yet often tender and funny. I couldn't put it down because, above all, it is also a story of resilience and bravery. - Sam Neill

Visceral, brave, honest: it is like Angela's Ashes meets Trainspotting - only more brutal. A deep, guttural howl of a book, it speaks of the pain and hurt that haunt so many men. And it may just save lives. - Magda Szubanski

I could sit and read this book all day long


This book is factual, but it is a fascinating read. Some biographies can be very dry, but I found this book to be anything but. It took me for a walk down memory lane as I am roughly the same age as Jimmy Barnes and already knew some of his history.

Ex Melbourne


This book was amazing.


This book was an amazing read. It was heart wrenching.



I would buy this as a Gift


I was excited to receive this book, and after I read it I had mixed feelings as to how some people had to survive even as a child growing up here in Australia. I felt sad and this story was a straight back eye opener. But I couldn't wait for His second book to find out what happened next.



Great product


Bought this for my son as a gift....he was most pleased and is enjoying reading.



Working Class Man a Professional Masterpiece


As a Jimmy Barnes fan this is essential reading. Having read Working Class Boy this was a natural progression. It is written with raw honesty. It has solidified the admiration I have for Jimmy Barnes, his music, his family and his band.

Bowral NSW Australia


Loved this.


I bought this for my nan as a gift to let her know I loved her.



Congratulations and Thank You for your courage.


Heartbreaking life, even though I grew up in Adelaide I never knew there were families like his out there. We were not well off, i.e. cardboard in the shoe trick but our parents were loving to us and each other. Felt sad he and his siblings had to live in such fear and just hope all who read it will question their treatment of others. Well done Jimmy Barnes, it would have been very difficult for you writing this novel and I can only send you many congratulations and as an old fan Thank You, you have given us many great times with your music.

Wondai, Qld


Very fast turn around and received in excellent condition.


very good gift

drouin vic Au


As his song says,working class,now see where Jimmy comes fro


As mum of 2 teens everyday readeris optimum.

victoria australia


Jimmie's early years


I purchased jimmie's book hoping that it would be a signed copy, but alas no, only to find out that signed copies are now available again, very disappointed!

F.T.G Victoria Australia



4.7 40


ISBN: 9781460752135
ISBN-10: 1460752139
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 416
Published: 19th September 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 24.1 x 16.3  x 3.6
Weight (kg): 0.68

Jimmy Barnes

About the Author

Jimmy Barnes is a Scottish-born rock singer/songwriter who grew up in Adelaide. His career, both as a solo performer and as the lead vocalist of the legendary band Cold Chisel, has made him one of the most successful and distinctive artists in Australian music history. A prolific songwriter and performer, Jimmy has been a storyteller for more than forty years; sharing his life and passions with Australians of all ages at over ten thousand gigs throughout his adopted homeland.

In the process he has amassed more #1 albums in Australia than the Beatles: four with Cold Chisel and eleven as a solo artist, including the iconic For the Working Class Man. Across his career Jimmy has sold over 12 million albums and he has been inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame twice. Jimmy lives in New South Wales, with Jane, his wife of 35 years, their children, grandchildren and two schnauzers. As well as writing and recording new music and touring virtually non-stop, he is currently working on the second volume of his memoirs.

Jimmy has sold over 12 million albums and he has been inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame twice.

Visit Jimmy Barnes's Booktopia Author Page