Working Class Boy: The Number 1 Bestselling Memoir

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HarperCollins, Oct 1, 2016 - Biography & Autobiography - 384 pages

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.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - mbmackay - LibraryThing

This is quite an amazing book. Tells the story of raw and rough life of Jimmy Barnes, singer of Cold Chisel. Jimmy Barnes is a household name in Australia, with a reputation as a wild rocker. This ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jody12 - LibraryThing

This memoir was generally well received by our group. Everyone found it an easy, yet compelling read and surprised some of us with its frankness. Considering ‘Barnesy’ has little or no experience ... Read full review


An Except from Working Class
one the best sparring partner in Britain
two next to nothing
three Man thats ma hobby
four a real Glasgow hard
five nothing like a romantic sea cruise
six sunny South Australia
seven the city of tomorrow
twelve we were damaged goods
thirteen please let it be
fourteen because I love you
fifteen smoke and mirrors
sixteen the time our worlds collided
seventeen dont let the name down
eighteen everybody thought I was fearless
nineteen a murderer but a good bloke

eight cardboard inside our shoes
nine the sound of breaking glass
ten messing with the kids
eleven the last bit of light
twenty cheap speed and beer
twentyone who had hit
twentytwo white trash

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About the author (2016)

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 40 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 37 years, their children, grandchildren and two schnauzers.

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