The late great Glenn Wheatley finished recording an audiobook recounting his life story just weeks before he died in February. A new edition of his 1999 bestseller, “Paper Paradise”, hit stores recently – and the audiobook is right behind it – set for release on May 19.

Glenn Wheatley | Credit: supplied

The audiobook is narrated entirely in his own voice. This memoir communicates the man behind the music. A man who broke into America with Little River Band reinvented John Farnham with “Whispering Jack”, and brought FM radio to Australia.

His Final Projects

Among Glenn Wheatley’s final projects is his upcoming audiobook – recorded late in 2021. The fact that Glenn took the time to narrate his own life story, just months before his death, is what makes this story so unique.

I have always loved his speaking voice and it doesn’t disappoint in this… He was never happier than when he had ten balls in the air, with the hope of catching just one.” 

says Glenn’s wife, Gaynor.

Glenn & Gaynor Wheatley | Credit: supplied

Wheatley’s son Tim contributes a forward, in addition to his own cover of “Because I Love You” (lifted from his forthcoming EP). It’s a track which was originally made famous by his father and The Master’s Apprentices fifty years ago; a moving tribute from a son to his father.

“To know that I have his voice telling his life story, has left me with an odd sense of relief,”

Tim says.

“The fact my old man took it upon himself to record his first book to audio a month before he passed didn’t really surprise me because he was always so sentimental.

Musical Narratives

Tim worked closely with Glenn on his music, particularly his new EP which was slated for release the week of his passing. Offering a tip of the hat to his father with his heartfelt cover of “Because I Love You”, it is nestled comfortably alongside a special collection of songs. “Shiny Tacoma” is the title track of Tim’s forthcoming EP which is also set for release on May 19 and available to pre-order.

“Shiny Tacoma” is just a taste of what Tim and Glenn were working on together. Glenn, ever so proud of the way his son had forged a music career of his own. Tim’s flair for classic songwriting is evident on every song on the EP – old school rock, country and folk are clear influences here, and Tim’s knack for telling a great story shines throughout. He spins narratives across playful, upbeat, rambling instrumentations, perfect for a summer barbeque, or simply to transport the listener to more carefree times.

“This EP is a combination of a session I did with Steven Schram back in 2019 and a rendition of The Master’s Apprentices’ song Because I Love You that I recorded with Justin Stanley to celebrate 50 years since The Master’s had recorded it at Abbey Road Studios, London,” 

says Tim.

“My father and I had every intention of working this release together on a revived ‘Wheatley Records’, but he passed four days short of the release date”.

Making a Comeback

Glenn Wheatley with John Farnham in Moscow, 1989 | Credit: supplied

“Paper Paradise” is an honest and entertaining memoir. It is a story of ambition, success and rock and roll. One man’s meteoric rise and spectacular fall. All set against a classic Australian soundtrack.

Few others have had the impact on the Australian music industry as Glenn Wheatley. From working-class boy to rockstar and star manager; he worked with some of Australia’s most recognisable and successful musicians. A tiny sample of which include Little River Band, John Farnham and Delta Goodrem.

He also pioneered the FM Radio industry; made national headlines, experienced failure and resurrected his career. After an extraordinary rise in the fast lane and an equally mighty fall, he made it back to the top. Wheatley was the ultimate rock and roll survivor.

“Shiny Tacoma” (single) is out now. Shiny Tacoma (EP) is out May 19 via Wheatley Records“Paper Paradise” by Glenn Wheatley (audiobook) is out May 19 through Wilkinson PublishingThe paperback edition is available now.

Today, we chat with Glenn’s son Tim about his life, his father’s legacy and his plans for the future…

Gaynor, Glenn & Tim Wheatley | Credit: supplied

Since the audiobook is a tribute to the late and successful Glenn Wheatley, what can you recall as the most impressive event of his career?

I can’t decide whether it was mortgaging the house to create the highest-selling Australian album of all time, or setting up the first FM radio station in Australia. But both have the same story behind it – which were stories of sheer uncertainty, acting on instincts and where the consequences would have been impossible to come back from should failure ensue.

From what age did your Father inspire you to join the wonderful world of music?

Since I can remember, I was always joined at the hip with him and desperate to go wherever he was going.

Glenn & Tim Wheatley | Credit: supplied

I was at soundchecks, concerts and studios since before I could talk. It was never going to be anything else other than music for me. He used to say about me that – ‘I was doomed from the start’.

The audiobook features a moving tribute from a son to his Father – does your cover of “Because I Love You” make you feel more connected to him? As you stated that the song turned into an “unintentional tribute”.

It’s a tough question because yes it was ‘unintentional’, and if I didn’t already have that song recorded, I don’t think I could have done it this soon after he passed.

I still haven’t listened to it because the lyrics became so eerily relevant, and it resonates a message that he always drove home to me. This song has found a happy place amongst his tributes and in this book, however as a songwriter, I’m searching for a connection to him with my own words.

Do you feel a familial obligation to your Father to contribute to the audiobook, through your songs, or through marketing it well to an audience?

My familial obligations lay with my family and seeing them through this seemingly impossible time. My obligations to my hero, best friend and father are to finish some of things that he started.

Tim, Elke & London | Credit: supplied

Because he simply wouldn’t rest until he had done so, and he would have lamented the fact that there was unfinished business out there. I want the book to do well and people to know his story, as quite often it’s the folks with the microphone getting all the credit, rather than the actual conductor behind the scenes.

Your new song “Shiny Tacoma” has a beautiful rhythm and voice behind it. What musical styles/singers/bands have been most influential on it?

‘Shiny Tacoma’ was a simple song that surprised me when we finished it. It reminds me of ‘Jackson Browne’ in particular with focus on the lyrics and a conceded effort to not overcook the production. Recorded live – flaws and all.

“Shiny Tacoma” is a song you partly worked on with your Father. Would you describe producing this song as an ode to him?

No. Releasing it certainly is because it was one of the things we started working on together. But since losing him, every lyric I’ve ever written before seems to fall short of significance to me. I’m working every day to create something good enough to be his ‘tribute’.

Are you currently working on any new songs for the near future?

I’ve been working away and writing whilst exiled in England for the last two years. I’m inspired like never before. And as a result, I left my major label, so I no longer have to compromise, bend or even worse, ‘wait’. I’ll be recording and releasing as I wish for the first time in my life. So yes – the future is more exciting than ever before for me.

Despite many, what is the one thing from your Father’s musical past and teachings that you will never forget, and bring with you on your future music journey?

That there is room for kind-heartedness in a cutthroat industry.

“Shiny Tacoma” (single) is out now. Shiny Tacoma (EP) is out May 19 on Wheatley Records, to coincide with the release of “Paper Paradise” – available to preorder now.

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