Grant McLennan

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Grant McLennan
Grant McLennan.jpg
Grant McLennan
Background information
Birth name Grant William McLennan
Born (1958-02-12)12 February 1958
Rockhampton, Queensland
Died 6 May 2006(2006-05-06) (aged 48)
Brisbane, Queensland
Genres Rock
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, guitarist, singer
Instruments Vocals, guitar, percussion, bass
Years active 1977–2006
Labels Postcard Records, Rough Trade, Beggars Banquet, Atlantic (US)
Associated acts The Go-Betweens, Jack Frost, 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.[1]

McLennan died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 48.

Early life[edit]

McLennan was born on 12 February 1958 in Rockhampton, Queensland.[2] 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.[3] 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 Joh Bjelke-Petersen was Premier of Queensland at the time, and McLennan was arrested in a student protest against aspects of Bjelke-Petersen's conservative policies.[4]

The Go-Betweens[edit]

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.


McLennan died at his home in Brisbane on 6 May 2006, aged 48,[4] from a heart attack.[5] He was preparing for a party at his home to celebrate with his fiancée, Emma Pursey. While 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.[citation needed] Over 1,000 people attended his funeral, including musicians Dave Dobbyn, Bernard Fanning, Ian Haug, Lindy Morrison, Dave McCormack, Steve Kilbey, Paul Kelly and Ed Kuepper.[6]

Solo discography[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ APRA|AMCOS: 2001 Top 30
  2. ^ "Grant McLennan Biography", Encyclopaedia Brittanica, retrieved 23 April 2015
  3. ^ Bernard Zuel (8 May 2006). "From the cane fields, songs of love and loss". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 8 May 2006. 
  4. ^ a b staff writer (7 May 2006). "Go-Betweens frontman McLennan dies". ABCNews Online. Retrieved 8 May 2006. 
  5. ^ Noel Mengel (8 May 2006). "Band founder dead at 48". The Courier Mail. Archived from the original on 24 September 2006. Retrieved 8 May 2006. 
  6. ^ Moses, Alexa (13 May 2006). "Rockers go to church and send McLennan a lullaby". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 

External links[edit]