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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This autobiography by the legendary Australian pub rocker (best known by his nickname Barnesy) rings as true and compelling as any of the singer’s hits. From his poverty-stricken Scottish childhood to anecdotes of life on the road, Jimmy Barnes narrates his life story with brutal honesty. Working Class Boy offers a moving account of the musician's struggles to escape an unwanted family inheritance: alcoholism. It’s a cathartic and harrowing outpouring from a man now wise and sober, who clawed himself out of the darkness with a combination of luck and perseverance.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Australian. He's Barnesy, for Christ's sake.
This is a childhood and coming of age memoir rather than a true autobiography. James Swan, better known as Jimmy Barnes or just plain "Barnesy," was born in working class Glasgow. At age five, he migrated to Australia with his parents: "ten pound poms" looking for a better life. All the vodka and other substances Barnes consumed back in the heyday of Cold Chisel appears not to have compromised his recall of Glasgow, hostel life in South Australia, or the migrant dominated satellite city of Elizabeth in the 1960s. His father was an alcoholic, and his mother struggled to hold things together: a not uncommon story in Elizabeth at the time, I gather. Somehow, most families did stay together though, which is a remarkable testament to the people and the times. We then hear about how young Jimmy Barnes got his start in music. The narrative ends with the formation of Cold Chisel and there are no lurid details of the rock-n-roll lifestyle on tour, nor much about his many offspring. If you're after cheap vicarious thrills, then don't bother. Perhaps Mr Barnes's memory of those days isn't quite as good. Try the sequel Working Class Man (2017). The prose was crisp, clear, and downright moving at times.
What impressed me most was the quality of the writing. It's all his own work, I believe. No ghost writer was involved. On yer, Barnesy.
Touched my heart
I loved loved this story it made me sad for Jim and his family .. I cried and took a day of work ...he touched my heart.. his story makes me want to hug him, I’ve always been a huge huge fan of Jim and now I know why ..I love him so much, what a rock star.
Working Class Boy
WOW! So honest, hilarious & tragic at the same time A real eye opener that you should never assume someone's history or experiences were smooth