Remembering Glenn Wheatley: Rocker-turned-manager-turned-rock radio pioneer

Glenn Wheatley

The rock star who then took John Farnham and LRB to the top and also helped launch EON FM

There will be tributes flowing today for Australian music and media industry legend Glenn Wheatley. He passed away yesterday after contracting Covid-19.

Wheatley was the bass player for The Masters Apprentices in the 1960s before they disbanded in 1972. Along the way they topped the charts in Australia and spent time recording in the UK, including sessions at Abbey Road.

After his music career, Wheatley managed many artists having huge success with LRB on the world stage and he spent many years guiding John Farnham’s career.

Wheatley also helped launch the career of Delta Goodrem, before splitting with the young artist.

As a media proprietor, Wheatley is best known as a member of the group that launched Melbourne’s first FM broadcaster, EON FM in 1980.

In later years Wheatley was a shareholder in EON Broadcasters which bought the 91.9 Sea FM and 92.7 Mix FM stations on the Sunshine Coast. The company also ran 2CH for a while before selling it to Sports and Entertainment Broadcasting.

The lowest point of his journey through the entertainment industry came when he was convicted of tax fraud and served time in Beechworth Correction Centre and later home detention.

A recent unsuccessful venture Wheatley invested in was EON Sports Radio which branded itself Australia’s first national 24/7 sports radio station in 2016. Mediaweek reported at the time:

In the last few days of July, the digital-only radio broadcaster EON Sports Radio was launched. The principal backer of the venture was John Wall, the driving force behind Acquire Learning and the racing industry digital news site G1X.
Wall told Mediaweek: “As a result of the success of, I was approached by Glenn Wheatley and Danny Staffieri.” Wall added he didn’t know either of them previously, but had heard of their reputations. Wheatley launched EON FM in 1980 and Staffieri was the founder of Melbourne sports-only radio station SEN 1116.”
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Bianca Chatfield, Glenn Wheatley, Jack Heverin at the launch of EON Sports Radio

Wheatley always had a deal in the works and a year later he revealed Sony Music Australia’s Parade Management and Wheatley’s Talentworks were launching the Talentworks Parade joint venture.

The announcement explained: Talentworks Parade will combine in the management of music artists, sporting personalities and media identities, as well as sign and develop new artists and personalities. Further, Talentworks Parade will also promote touring events, corporate performances, special event appearances, as well as develop merchandise, new media formats and other entertainment industry activities.
Wheatley, managing director of Talentworks, commented: “I am very proud to be able to bring our two companies together. Talentworks has had a long history of artist management and concert promotion in the music industry in Australia. Sony and Parade Management need no introduction. They represent everything that is music in Australia. I look forward to working with Denis Handlin and his team.”
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Denis Handlin and Glenn Wheatley announce their management JV in 2017

Wheatley wrote two autobiographies – Paper Paradise: Confessions of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Survivor (1999) and Facing the Music (2010).

Andrew McMillan in The Australian:
Prominent music industry figure Glenn Wheatley died in Melbourne on Tuesday, aged 74, from complications with Covid.
Wheatley’s career spanned decades, and saw him performing on stage before later ceding the spotlight to others as a highly successful artist manager.
Through his work at the highest levels of the Australian music business, Wheatley made a substantial impact on popular ­culture.
He was a skilled operator who was well-connected and widely liked, both here and abroad.
Born in Brisbane in 1948, Wheatley rose to prominence in the late 1960s as bassist in The Masters Apprentices, the Jim Keays-fronted band that became one of the most popular rock acts in the country with hit songs including Because I Love You, Turn Up Your Radio and Undecided.
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Glenn Wheatley

Director, producer and manager Lee Rogers commented today: Very sad to hear about Glenn Wheatley passing away. A true trailblazer; 70s rock star, pioneer of FM radio, crossed over to management very successfully; worked with Bowie in the UK, was manager of LRB, James Reyne, Farnham, Pseudo Echo, Delta and many more. I had the privilege of co-managing Kate Ceberano with him for a few years in the late 90s and learnt a lot. Such an enthusiastic and visionary entrepreneur who helped the careers of so many.

Listen to the podcast The Blank Canvas that Rogers recorded with Wheatley.

A post on The Masters Apprentices Facebook page this morning said:
We are deeply saddened by the passing of Glenn Wheatley. Glenn joined Masters Apprentices in 1968. Glenn recorded hits such as Bridgette, 5:10 Man, Think About Tomorrow Today, Turn Up Your Radio and Because I Love You. He recognised that the band should be getting much higher fees for drawing huge crowds and fought for a fairer share of concert revenue.

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