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Glenn Wheatley

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Title: Glenn Wheatley  
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Subject: Little River Band, The Masters Apprentices, John Farnham, Southern Sons, Mississippi (band)
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Glenn Wheatley

Glenn Wheatley
Birth name Glenn Dawson Wheatley
Born (1948-01-23) 23 January 1948
Genres pop rock
Occupation(s) Talent manager, musician
Instruments Bass guitar
Years active 1968–
Associated acts The Masters Apprentices
Little River Band
John Farnham
Delta Goodrem

Glenn Dawson Wheatley (born 23 January 1948) is an Australian artist manager and entertainment industry executive. He is married to actress Gaynor Martin, and has a son, musician Tim Wheatley.

Wheatley began his career as a musician in Brisbane in the mid-1960s and in the late 1960s became nationally famous as a member of leading hard rock band The Masters Apprentices. He was also the longtime manager of Australian singer John Farnham.

In 2007, he was found guilty of channelling more than $650,000 through tax fraud schemes. [1] Wheatley was sentenced to 15 months in prison. [2]


  • Career as a musician 1
    • Bay City Union 1.1
    • The Masters Apprentices 1.2
  • Managing 2
    • Little River Band 2.1
    • John Farnham 2.2
    • Business and community 2.3
    • Recent years 2.4
  • Criminal convictions 3
  • Further reading 4
  • References 5

Career as a musician

Bay City Union

Wheatley's first significant foray into music was as guitarist in the Brisbane pop band Bay City Union, which was fronted by singer Matt Taylor, who later achieved considerable fame in Australia as the lead singer of pioneering Australian eccentric blues band Chain.

The Masters Apprentices

In early 1968 Wheatley was hired as the bass player in a new line-up of the Melbourne-based pop-rock band The Masters Apprentices, then one of Australia's most popular groups. Wheatley's four-year tenure with the group, which lasted until shortly before their demise in 1972, included the recording of many of their most successful songs including the hit singles "Turn Up Your Radio" (1970) and "Because I Love You" (1971), and the acclaimed 1971 LP Choice Cuts, which was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London.

It was during Wheatley's tenure in the Masters that he learned at first hand about the highly exploitative nature of the Australian pop industry at that time. The band endured many "rip-offs" and in their later career they suffered greatly from poor management decisions and inadequate support from their record labels, problems which eventually led to the group's demise in 1972.

According to Wheatley's memoir, a key incident took place in late 1969 when the Masters took part in a nationwide package tour, "Operation Starlift". The concert at Brisbane Festival Hall, drew a then record crowd of over 7000 people, breaking the venue's previous attendance record set by The Beatles in 1964. After the concert Wheatley reflected on the event, and it became the turning point in his life and career, because it finally drove home just how badly the group were being ripped off.

Wheatley knew that patrons had paid A$5 per ticket, so the receipts for the night would have been around A$35,000, but the Masters Apprentices, like all the other acts, were on a fixed fee and received a mere $200 for the show; even the top-billed act John Farnham probably only earned about $1000. Figuring that the performers were probably only paid about A$2000 in total, Wheatley realised that the promoters had walked away with upwards of A$30,000 for that concert alone.


Tired of their ongoing management problems, in late 1969 the band sacked their manager of the time, Darryl Sambell (who also managed Farnham) and Wheatley took over day-to-day business affairs and bookings. The group also set up its own Melbourne-based booking agency, Drum, which soon boasted a roster of several dozen local groups, as well as promoting several international tours.

After winning a national talent contest, the Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds, the group was able to use their prize—free passage to the UK on a cruise liner—to travel to England in early 1970. There they recorded two highly regarded LPs, but lack of commercial success, limited work opportunities and continuing financial problems eventually led to their break-up 1972.

Wheatley remained in the UK for some time before moving to the United States. During this period he worked for various management and booking agencies, learning the intricacies of management and agency work, contract negotiations and tour promotions.

Little River Band

In 1975 he set up The Wheatley Organization and became the manager of a new Australian 'supergroup', Little River Band (LRB), which comprised former members of several leading Australian pop bands of the 1960s and early 1970s. After establishing themselves in Australia, Wheatley boldly took the band to the United States, having learned firsthand of the futility of trying to break into the insular English music scene, where scores of other Australia bands had tried and failed to gain a foothold, with only The Seekers achieving any ongoing success.

Thanks to Wheatley's contacts, experience and skill, as well as the redoubtable talent of the band itself, LRB became the first Australian band to achieve major and lasting chart and sales success in America, and under his guidance they became by far the most successful Australian band of the period.

John Farnham

After LRB was dropped by Capitol Records in 1986, Wheatley returned to Australia and began managing an old friend, singer John Farnham, who had been a leading star in the 1960s but was reduced to playing club gigs before replacing Glenn Shorrock in 1982 as lead singer of Little River Band. Once again, Wheatley's skill and perseverance paid off; he mortgaged his own house to help pay for the recording of Farnham's 1986 "comeback" album Whispering Jack, and the gamble paid off handsomely—it re-established Farnham as a major singing star and the record became (and remains) the biggest-selling Australian album of all time.

Business and community

Wheatley became involved in FM radio broadcasting in 1980 when he was a founding director of Melbourne-based EON-FM (now 3MMM FM). In 1987 he negotiated a series of acquisitions which resulted in the formation of Hoyts Media, a national FM radio network, and from 1987 to 1989 he was managing director of Hoyts Media before resigning to pursue other business interests. He founded the artist agency TalentWorks in 1996, focusing on artist and sports management, music recording and publishing, tour promotion and event management.

Wheatley has been presented with the Advance Australia Award for Outstanding Contribution in the Entertainment Industry and was the recipient of the 1988 Business Review Weekly Australia's Business Award for Marketing. He has been a director and part owner of the Sydney Swans, and a board member of AUSMUSIC, Tourism Task Force (promoting Australia as a tourist destination), and the AIDS Trust of Australia.

Recent years

In 1998 the Masters Apprentices were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. In the same year, Wheatley reached another milestone in his career, with a hugely successful trio tour, "The Main Event", which starred Farnham, Olivia Newton-John, and Anthony Warlow. The live album, recorded at the Melbourne concert, went on to become a multi-platinum seller and a televised recording of the show was the most watched Australian television show of the year.

In 1999 Wheatley published his autobiography Paper Paradise which was based in part on a ribald memoir he had begun during his stint in The Masters, entitled "Who The Hell Is Judy in Sydney?".

In 2002 Wheatley promoted Farnham's last major nationwide tour, entitled "The Last Time". It was said to be the largest tour ever mounted by an Australian artist, beginning in November with the capital cities and ending in June 2003 with a tent tour of regional cities and towns.

Shortly after the eight-month tour, Wheatley made an appearance at the 2003 ARIA Awards in Sydney to induct John Farnham into the ARIA Hall of Fame.

Wheatley also managed Australian Neighbours actress and singer Delta Goodrem, helping her to achieve major success, but Goodrem split with Wheatley under acrimonious circumstances in 2003. [3]

In early 2007 he was managing Neighbours star Stephanie McIntosh's venture into music.

Wheatley has shifted base between Sydney and Melbourne over the last few years, and in June 2012 whilst walking his son's dog, Danko, had part of his middle finger chewed off trying to intervene when another dog attacked. [4]

In 2013, the EON brand was resurrected through EON Broadcasters, which purchased the Sunshine Coast radio stations 91.9 Sea FM and 92.7 Mix FM. Wheatley owns a 5% stake in the business; the other 95% is under control of Oceania Capital.

Criminal convictions

In July 2007, Glenn Wheatley pleaded guilty to charges of tax evasion, and faced the possibility of up to 16 years in jail.[1] On 19 July 2007, he was sentenced in the County Court to 30 months jail, with a minimum of 15 months to be served. His legal team is considering appealing the duration of the sentence.[2]

"I'm ashamed of what I have done," Wheatley said in court. "It was something that I have regretted for a long, long time and I'm ashamed of what I've brought on my family, who have had to suffer a lot." [5]

During the trial, many high-profile Australians wrote glowing character references for Wheatley, including singer John Farnham, Sydney Swans chairman Richard Colless, and entertainer Bert Newton. One reference, from army general Peter Cosgrove, described Wheatley as a "very honest and upright person".[5]

However, Commonwealth prosecutor Richard Maidment, SC, said "The fraud that was instigated (by Wheatley) can be described as sustained and sophisticated. Tax fraud is not to be seen as a victimless crime."[5] Wheatley was released from Beechworth Correctional Centre on 19 May 2008, and was moved to home detention with electronic surveillance for the remainder of his sentence.[6] Wheatley completed his detention on 18 October 2008 and immediately left for an overseas holiday.[7]

On 14 May 2010, Wheatley was charged with drink driving after recording a blood alcohol level of 0.08 by a random breath testing unit in Rushcutters Bay, New South Wales. He faced Waverley Court on 9 June 2010 and pleaded guilty. His licence was suspended for six months and he received an $850 fine.[8]

Further reading

  • Forbes, Clark. Whispering Jack: The John Farnham Story. (1989) ISBN 0-09-169441-8
  • Wheatley, Glenn. Paper Paradise: Confessions of a Rock 'n' Roll Survivor. (Bantam Books, 1999) ISBN 0-7338-0012-2
  • Wheatley, Glenn. Facing the Music (Hardie Grant Books, 2010) ISBN 1-74066-979-7


  1. ^ a b "Wheatley guilty of tax fraud".  
  2. ^ a b "Prison term for Wheatley".  
  3. ^ "Delta dumps Wheatley".  
  4. ^ "Glenn Wheatley's finger savaged in dog attack".  
  5. ^ a b c "Wheatley to face music".  
  6. ^ "'"Wheatley 'to go home.  
  7. ^ Te Koha, Nui; Houlihan, Liam (19 October 2008). "Freed Glenn Wheatley to escape overseas".  
  8. ^ Wells, Jamelle (9 June 2010). "Glenn Wheatley guilty of drink-driving". Retrieved 18 June 2010. 
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