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Publisher's Summary

Raw, gritty, compassionate, surprising and darkly funny - Australian legend Jimmy Barnes' unforgettable childhood memoir.

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 OzPubRock - there isn't an accolade or cliché 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 that fuelled the excess and recklessness which 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' 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 of a family's collapse, but it is also the story of 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.

©2016 Jimmy Barnes (P)2017 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

Critic Reviews

"A stunning piece of work - relentless, earnest, shockingly vivid." ( The Australian)
"Jimmy Barnes' 'memoir of running away' is a tale of sheer survival, the horror of a violent upbringing snapping at his heels 'like it was yesterday'." ( The Sydney Morning Herald)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Bloody Brilliant.

I binge listened in one sitting. Couldn't stop. There are dark tales of hard post War Scotland and redneck towns in South Australia- but the laughs and yarns throughout just had me hooked. Jimmy Barnes is one of Australia's favourite rock stars. This is a brave story, read by the man himself. Well done Jimmy Barnes- I'll see you at a book signing.

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  • Mr J Clark
  • 02-02-18

True Working Class Boy

Wow!
What a life that poor boy had!
But hold on that was how it was back in the day!
Absolutely loved the story told by Jimmy and have the utmost respect and love for him.
I was in Australia in 1985 and was lucky enough to be introduced to Jimmy Barnes’s music by my Aussie mates and blessed to see him live at Bombay Rock Surfers Paradise.
Haven’t stopped listening since!
Can’t wait for Working class Man to come out on Audio

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  • M. O'Brien
  • 09-27-17

Raw & honest autobiography

Everyone has a story, but not many are as horrific as this. An inspiring story of survival & I guess we'll have to wait for the next book to read about his success.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Vicky Kendall
  • 11-30-17

interesting

i grew up listening to cold chisel. there are so many things here that i never knew about jimmy barnes.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Jamie Shaw
  • 11-15-17

Heartfelt, raw and honest

Without a doubt the best biography I have ever read. Rather than focus on Jimmys conquests and make excuses for the way he was bought up, he embraces it and tells relatable and real life stories in the purest form. Rarely does this book focus on music. Rather it focuses on emotions and humanity and it is brutally honest at times. Couldn’t recommend it more highly and I can’t wait for the next book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Scott Welsh
  • 02-24-18

Thanks for sharing your story Jimmy

Jimmy is a great story teller and this book is thoroughly entertaining.

I also want to thank Jimmy, because by sharing his story he has helped me understand my own father. My father grew up in the streets of Glasgow and suffered from the same shame and fear that Jimmy did and I’m now far more at peace with him and myself.

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  • big fan
  • 02-17-18

Gritty authentic story

I also grew up in South Australia and related to a lot of the story. Well written and confronting. Bought back memories of the time I was bashed at Elizabeth Town Centre in the late 70s as Jimmy describes this was a tough existence.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-15-18

Loved it..

Great narration Jimmy. A story like that should only be told by the Author . Looking forward to the next one.
Maree

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-08-18

Wow, this book was awesome!

was really pleased to hesr Jimmy Barnes himself was reading it. Very very well worth the listen and cant wait to hear his next book!

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  • Liz Goodall
  • 02-02-18

great story about a great man

an honest story of life on the wrong side of the tracks. Having the author reading gave the story added validity.

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  • Stuart
  • 01-24-18

Highly entertaining read

Very interesting listening to jimmys child good upbringing and a highly entertaining story. Fun to listen to all the way through...

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  • Meredith
  • 01-24-18

Gruelling but fascinating

This was an amazing story. Clearly cathartic for Jimmy but almost unbelievable in its raw emotion and the tragedy of his childhood. It took a long time for me to realise this is Book 1 up to Jimmy joining Cold Chisel.
Can’t wait to read book 2.
Reading this book makes me grateful for my ordinary middle class upbringing!
Absolutely recommend this but you need a strong heart to endure reading about such a difficult childhood.
Well done Jimmy and the narration was excellent!