Tributes flow for Glenn Wheatley: ‘A legend of the Aussie music industry’
Glenn Wheatley, the late rocker, artist manager and pioneer of Australia’s music scene, is being remembered as a “humble” music man with a great ear and fierce intellect.
Wheatley, who has died at the age of 74, reached unimaginable heights during his 40-year-plus career in music, one that included ARIA Hall of Fame induction with Masters Apprentices, and an illustrious artist management career working with the likes of John Farnham, Little River Band and Delta Goodrem.
Wheatley mortgaged his house to fund Farnham’s 1986 comeback album Whispering Jack, and guided the launch of Goodrem’s pop career, with 2003’s debut Innocent Eyes. Both titles are among Australia’s biggest-selling homegrown albums of all time.
The lows were similarly extreme, with Wheatley sentenced to a 15-month jail term in 2007 on tax fraud charges.
Wheatley explored those high, lows and much more during a candid keynote speech at Bigsound 2009 in his hometown, Brisbane. “Ignorance is no excuse. Understand what you are signing,” he told the audience. “I had never read a tax refund. How stupid. I will now.”
SGC Group Managing Director Stephen Green developed a rapport with Wheatley while building-out the Bigsound program.
“Our private conversations at the time showed his character as well as the trauma and learning from the experience and the way he was so open to a 20 something kid he had just met was inspirational. His keynote was of course brilliant. He was one of the most humble ‘old school’ music industry people I have ever met,” writes Green in a social post.
“The thing that struck me about that was how he never wanted to stop learning and evolving but also how much he underplayed the intellect and strategic genius that he had. You don’t do LRB, Whispering Jack and Innocent Eyes without knowing a thing or two about marketing but in all our conversations over the years he never looked back.”
Wheatley reportedly died after being hospitalised with COVID-19.
As the sad news spread fast, Australia’s music community reached out.
In a statement posted to their official Facebook page, The Masters Apprentices said they were “deeply saddened” by his death. Wheatley “left his mark forever on Australian Music,” the message reads.
Trade bodies ARIA, APRA AMCOS, and Music Victoria led tributes.
Music Victoria is saddened to learn of the passing of iconic music producer and talent manager Glenn Wheatley.— Music Victoria (@MusicVictoria) February 1, 2022
Music Victoria sends condolences to Glenn’s friends, family and industry connections.https://t.co/LMBzcHEcBt pic.twitter.com/zPclJBPISv
We would like to send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Glenn Wheatley, who has passed away aged 74. pic.twitter.com/g8LcD8H6S3— ARIA (@ARIA_Official) February 1, 2022
Very sad news, our thoughts are with his loved ones. https://t.co/GpSFX6uHG9— APRA AMCOS (@APRAAMCOS) February 1, 2022
A statement from Support Act reads, “A legend of the Aussie music industry since the 1960’s, Glenn was a musician, manager, entrepreneur and promoter. Our sincere condolences to Gaynor, his family and his many friends and colleagues. He will be missed.”
Support Act was saddened to hear of Glenn Wheatley’s passing. A legend of the Aussie music industry since the 1960's, Glenn was a musician, manager, entrepreneur and promoter. Our sincere condolences to Gaynor, his family and his many friends and colleagues. He will be missed. pic.twitter.com/WCnR7z8hoI— Support Act (@SupportAct) February 1, 2022
“This is so bloody sad,” writes broadcaster David Campbell. “What a lovely man. My thoughts go to Gaynor and the family. Also to John Farnham, their legacy was remarkable.
This is so bloody sad. What a lovely man. My thoughts go to Gaynor and the family. Also to John Farnham, their legacy was remarkable Glenn Wheatley dead at 74: | https://t.co/7sYT3TGMDO — Australia’s leading news site https://t.co/bQjddXQRZr— David Campbell OAM (@DavidCampbell73) February 1, 2022
“What incredibly sad news to wake up to,” comments TV star and fellow Queenslander Shaynna Blaze. “Glenn Wheatley was an incredible force in Australian music and the re-birth of John Farnham and Tina Turner. Condolences to his family.”
What incredibly sad news to wake up to. Glenn Wheatley was an incredible force in Australian music and the re-birth of John Farnham and Tina Turner. Condolences to his family. https://t.co/QA5ymaG7Ia— Shaynna Blaze (@ShaynnaBlaze) February 1, 2022
“He was a visionary, and you know, once again we see another guy go and it’s bloody sad news.” The Choirboys frontman Mark Gable told Central Coast’s 107.7 Triple M with Paddy & Rob Palmer.
Sorry to hear this.— Peter FitzSimons (@Peter_Fitz) February 1, 2022
Extraordinary life, with some great ups and devastating downs, but he came through it all smiling.
Music promoter Glenn Wheatley dead at 74 https://t.co/U5JPK6pQeP
Vale Glenn Wheatley. The giant of the Australian music industry has died at the age of 74. He was always the gentleman on his visits to the @BreakfastNews studio. https://t.co/k4FqqUgA3g— Michael Rowland (@mjrowland68) February 1, 2022
This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.