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Publisher Description

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.

Biographies & Memoirs
1 October
HarperCollins Australia Pty Limited

Customer Reviews

2013shardy ,


Whilst I was born in and grew up in Australia, a lot of what Jimmy writes is all too familiar. The violence at home, sexual abuse and feeling totally unloved or wanted, was often hard to read. I've put it all behind me. Having said that my Father died of self abuse through alcohol & smoking, the eldest of my 2 younger brothers walked in front of a car, the younger brother married an alcoholic and they both indulge in drugs. My first husband is an alcoholic & I was on the verge of becoming an alcoholic, when met my beautiful husband /soul mate and then got Breast Cancer, which has spread throughout my bones.
This book is about surviving against all odds. I highly recommend it.


Greatest Book Ever

This book warms the hearts of many men and women about the story of the Great Man himself, Jimmy Barnes

Soradn ,

Working class boy.

You sure did have an interesting life Jimmy but poverty, drink, drugs etc have brought you through to the other side with help of your loving family.. Good luck for a calmer and happier future. If only that could be the outcome for all the poor children brought up in disfunctual circumstances neglected and abused
By the adults who should be caring for them, then the world would be in a better state.

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