The Australian music industry has lost one of its biggest names, with musician, manager, and executive Glenn Wheatley passing away at the age of 74.
As the ABC reports, Wheatley passed away in Melbourne on Tuesday, February 1st following complications of COVID.
Born in Brisbane in 1948, Wheatley first began his career in the Australian music industry as a member of Matt Taylor’s Bay City Union. That same year, he joined the lineup of The Masters Apprentices, who had moved to Melbourne from their native Adelaide.
Serving as their bassist from 1968 until 1972 (and again for reunions in the ’80s and early ’00s), Wheatley performed on some of the group’s biggest hits, including “Turn Up Your Radio” and “Because I Love You”.
Responding to his passing on Facebook, The Masters Apprentices shared a statement reflecting on their time with Wheatley, noting they were “deeply saddened by his loss”.
“He recognised that the band should be getting much higher fees for drawing huge crowds and fought for a fairer share of concert revenue,” the group recalled. “After Glenn left The Masters Apprentices in 1972 he went into band management and conquered the world with the likes of Little River Band, Australian Crawl, Moving Pictures, John Farnham and many others.
“He pioneered FM radio in Australia and organised the Hay Mate fundraiser concert appeals. He has left his mark forever on Australian Music.”
Famously, Wheatley was responsible for Farnham’s mid-’80s comeback, going to far as to mortgage his own house to finance the recording of Farnham’s 1986 album Whispering Jack. The risk paid off, with Whispering Jack going on to become one of the country’s most successful albums, with copies being owned by roughly 50% of Australians at one point, and recently being named as the third-best Australian album of all time by Rolling Stone Australia.
In 2007, Wheatley was found guilty on charges of tax evasion and eventually served 15 months in jail. The trial saw numerous figures share character witnesses statements, including the likes of recently-deceased entertainment legend Bert Newton, and even then-future Governor-General of Australia, Peter Cosgrove.
Wheatley is survived by his wife, Gaynor, and three children, Tim, Samantha, and Kara.