Glenn Wheatley

Glenn Dawson Wheatley (born 23 January 1948) is an Australian talent manager, entertainment industry executive and former musician. He is married to the actress Gaynor Martin and has one son and two daughters.

Glenn Wheatley
Birth nameGlenn Dawson Wheatley
Born (1948-01-23) 23 January 1948
GenresPop rock
Occupation(s)Talent manager, musician
InstrumentsBass guitar
Years active1968–present
Associated actsThe Masters Apprentices
Little River Band
John Farnham
Delta Goodrem

Wheatley began his career as a musician in Brisbane in the mid-1960s and in the late 1960s became nationally famous as the bass guitarist of leading rock band the Masters Apprentices.

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

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) as well as the 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.[3]

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.[4]


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. Wheatley mortgaged his own house to help pay for the recording of Farnham's 1986 "comeback" album, Whispering Jack. The gamble paid off and re-established Farnham as a major singing star and the album became (and remains) the biggest-selling Australian album of all time.[5]

Recent years

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?.

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.[6]

Wheatley has shifted base between Sydney and Melbourne over the years and in June 2012 while walking his son's dog, Danko, had part of his middle finger chewed off trying to intervene when another dog attacked.[7]

Criminal convictions

In July 2007, 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. In order to reduce his sentence he informed on his lawyer "to save his own skin".[8]

"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."[9]

During the trial, many high-profile Australians presented character references for Wheatley, including 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".[9]

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."[9] 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.[10] Wheatley completed his detention on 18 October 2008 and immediately left for an overseas holiday.[11]

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.[12]

Further reading

  • Forbes, Clark. Whispering Jack: The John Farnham Story. (1989) ISBN 0-09-169441-8
  • Keays, Jim. His Master's Voice. (Allen & Unwin, 1999) ISBN 9781865081854
  • 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. "Wheatley guilty of tax fraud". The Australian. 7 July 2007. Retrieved 8 July 2007.
  2. "Prison term for Wheatley". The Age. 19 July 2007. Retrieved 19 July 2007.
  3. Keays, His Master's Voice, 1999
  4. Moore, Tony (27 March 2009). "How Brisbane changed Wheatley's life" via The Sydney Morning Herald.
  5. "'Whispering Jack' Turns 30 and still the biggest selling Oz album ever - Daily Review: Film, stage and music reviews, interviews and more".
  6. "Delta dumps Wheatley". The Sydney Morning Herald. 5 October 2003. Retrieved 19 July 2007.
  7. "Glenn Wheatley's finger savaged in dog attack". The Herald Sun. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  8. "Wheatley dobbed in lawyer to avoid jail over fraud, court told". 4 February 2010 via The Sydney Morning Herald.
  9. "Wheatley to face music". The Sydney Morning Herald. 19 July 2007. Retrieved 19 July 2007.
  10. "Wheatley 'to go home'". The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 April 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2008.
  11. Te Koha, Nui; Houlihan, Liam (19 October 2008). "Freed Glenn Wheatley to escape overseas". Herald Sun. Retrieved 20 October 2008.
  12. Wells, Jamelle (9 June 2010). "Glenn Wheatley guilty of drink-driving". Retrieved 18 June 2010.
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