|Birth name||Grant William McLennan|
12 February 1958|
|Died||6 May 2006
|Occupations||musician, songwriter, guitarist, singer|
|Labels||Rough Trade records
Beggars Banquet Records
Atlantic Records (US)
|Associated acts||The Go-Betweens
Far Out Corporation
Grant William McLennan (12 February 1958 – 6 May 2006) was an Australian singer-songwriter with the alternative rock band The Go-Betweens, which he co-founded with Robert Forster in Brisbane, Australia in 1977. In a career spanning almost thirty years, his work with The Go-Betweens (1977–89, and resuming 2000–06) is complemented by several solo releases and side-project collaborations with other performers. McLennan received a number of accolades recognising his achievements and contributions as songwriter and lyricist, including the naming of his 1983 composition "Cattle and Cane" by the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) as one of the 30 greatest Australian songs of all time.
McLennan died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 48.
McLennan was born in the city of Rockhampton, central Queensland. Four years later he moved with his family to Cairns after the death of his father, a G.P. The family then relocated to a cattle station in central Far North Queensland, and McLennan spent five years at the Anglican Church Grammar School in Brisbane as a boarder. A number of McLennan's songs evoke the impressions and imagery of the regional background of his childhood, such as the breakthrough "Cattle and Cane", "Dusty in Here" (about his father), "Boundary Rider", and "Bye Bye Pride."
In 1976 McLennan began a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Queensland. The long-serving and controversial Joh Bjelke-Petersen was State Premier at the time, and McLennan was arrested in a student protest against aspects of his conservative policies.
A year later, he first met with Robert Forster, who encouraged him to learn bass guitar (McLennan had no musical training) and join with him in forming a band. After several months playing and songwriting, the duo recorded and released their first 7" single in 1978, Forster's "Lee Remick" (B-side "Karen," 500 copies pressed). In this initial period Forster performed most of the songwriting, vocals and guitar; however as McLennan's own distinctive compositional style developed the two would soon share in songwriting and vocals for the band almost equally. For all Go-Betweens releases from about 1980 forward, all songs were credited to "Forster/McLennan", although the two composers often wrote separately, each singing their own compositions.
By the time their first album was released (1982's Send Me A Lullaby), the Go-Betweens' line-up expanded to include Lindy Morrison as their permanent drummer. Later releases added Robert Vickers on bass (allowing McLennan to move to lead guitar), and then Amanda Brown on oboe, violin and a variety of other instruments (Brown and McLennan were in a relationship for several years during this time). John Willsteed then replaced Vickers on bass after the latter left the band for their last album.
After recording six albums, The Go-Betweens disbanded in December 1989. Through the 1990s, McLennan recorded four well-received solo albums, collaborated on two albums with The Church's Steve Kilbey in the band Jack Frost, and collaborated with Powderfinger's Ian Haug in Far Out Corporation.
Forster and McLennan reformed The Go-Betweens in 2000, and recorded three more albums. Their last studio album, Oceans Apart, won the band their first ARIA Award for Best Adult Contemporary Album. Their That Striped Sunlight Sound DVD was nominated for Best Music DVD at the 2006 awards.
Grant McLennan died at his home in Brisbane on 6 May 2006, aged 48, from a heart attack. He was preparing for a party at his home to celebrate with his fiancée, Emma Pursey. Whilst preparing for the party, he complained of feeling unwell, and went upstairs to rest. He died in his room and was found soon after by his flatmate, friends and fiancée.
- Intermission (2007)
- The Go-Betweens for band-related discography
Notes and references
- APRA|AMCOS: 2001 Top 30
- Bernard Zuel (8 May 2006). "From the cane fields, songs of love and loss". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2006-05-08.
- staff writer (7 May 2006). "Go-Betweens frontman McLennan dies". ABCNews Online. Retrieved 2006-05-08.
- Noel Mengel (8 May 2006). "Band founder dead at 48". The Courier Mail. Archived from the original on 2006-09-24. Retrieved 2006-05-08.
- McLennan obituary[dead link]
- BBC News - Go-Betweens singer dies in sleep
- CNN news - McClennan obituary
- http://www.go-betweens.net Official website of The Go-Betweens
- "The Very Important Visiting Friend" - Danceteria anecdote, 1980