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Jimmy Barnes Jimmy Barnes i(A128579 works by) (birth name: James Dixon Swan)
Born: Established: 1956 Glasgow,
United Kingdom (UK),
Western Europe, Europe,
Gender: Male
Arrived in Australia: 21 Jan 1962
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Born in Glasgow, Jimmy Barnes arrived in Australia (as James Swan) with his parents and four siblings in 1962, when he was five years old. Originally apprenticed to South Australian Railways in a foundry in the early 1970s, he was influenced by his love for music to join the band that was then called Orange, but would become known internationally as Cold Chisel, one of Australia's biggest rock bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s. After Cold Chisel separated after seven albums in 1983, Barnes went on to a successful solo career.

In 2016, Barnes released his autobiography, Working Class Boy. A sequel, Working Class Man was released in 2017.

Most Referenced Works


  • Voted number 35 in the Booktopia Top 50 Favourite Australian Authors for 2018

  • Other works not individually indexed on AustLit include:

    Where the River Bends : Recipes and Stories from the Table of Jane and Jimmy Barnes (HarperCollins Publishers, 2021)

Personal Awards

2017 recipient Order of Australia Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)

For distinguished service to the performing arts as a musician, singer and songwriter,

and through support for not-for-profit organisations, particularly to children with a


Awards for Works

y separately published work icon Working Class Man Pymble : HarperCollins Australia , 2017 12096667 2017 single work autobiography

'It's a life too big and a story too extraordinary for just one book. Jimmy Barnes has lived many lives - from Glaswegian migrant kid to iconic front man, from solo superstar to proud father of his own musical clan. In this hugely anticipated sequel to his critically acclaimed bestseller, Working Class Boy, Jimmy picks up the story of his life as he leaves Adelaide in the back of an old truck with a then unknown band called Cold Chisel. A spellbinding and searingly honest reflection on success, fame and addiction; this self-penned memoir reveals how Jimmy Barnes used the fuel of childhood trauma to ignite and propel Australia's greatest rock'n'roll story. But beyond the combustible merry-go-round of fame, drugs and rehab, across the Cold Chisel, solo and soul years - this is a story about how it's never too late to try and put things right.' (Publication summary)

2018 winner Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Australian Biography of the Year
2018 shortlisted Indie Awards Nonfiction
y separately published work icon Working Class Boy Pymble : HarperCollins Australia , 2016 9359803 2016 single work autobiography

'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 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.' (Publication summary)

2017 winner Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Australian Biography of the Year
2017 longlisted Indie Awards Nonfiction
Last amended 28 Oct 2021 08:28:23
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