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Working Class Boy

by Jimmy Barnes

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.

See our live interview with Jimmy below:



About Jimmy Barnes

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. He has amassed more #1 albums in Australia than the Beatles. Jimmy has sold over 12 million albums and he has been inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame twice.



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