Grant McLennan was born in Rockhampton, Queensland (Australia) on 12 February 1958. While studying at Queensland University he met a flamboyant dandy – and fellow drama student – named Robert Forster. Together they formed The Go-Betweens.
The Go-Betweens released their first single, Lee Remick, in 1978 on the independent Able label. The song was not a hit, and by the mid-eighties had become such a collector’s item that the producers of The Mike Walsh Show paid $80 for a copy, so they could present it to actress Lee Remick when she appeared on the show.
In early 1980, The Go-Betweens’ third single I Need Two Heads was voted Single Of The Week by British music paper Sounds.
After releasing a string of lively garage-pop singles they recorded their debut album, Send Me A Lullaby, in 1981, and emigrated to London. In this self-imposed exile, they began writing songs that evoked their homeland vividly.
They went on to record five more LPs of such unique consistency that, decades later, critics and fans still furiously debate their order of merit.
Returning to Australia after spending most of the 80s in London, The Go-Betweens began flaking. They lost their bassist and replaced him with John Willsteed, whose history suggested he hated the band and who was about to succumb to a drinking problem.
Singer/songwriter Robert Forster and drummer Lindy Morrison had split up, she was about to lose her enthusiasm for band life, and he steeped his songs in melancholy.
Grant McLennan (the other singer/songwriter) and multi-instrumentalist Amanda Brown were in love, however, and contentment flowed from McLennan’s pen.
The resultant 16 Lovers Lane album (1988) emerged as possibly the most heartbreaking album of all time; ten beautiful love songs covering the A-Z that begins with infatuation and ends with memories . . .
In 1989 The Go-Betweens took a 10-year hiatus, leaving McLennan to release a flurry of solo albums, but when the band re-formed in 2000 (with their first album in 10 years, The Friends Of Rachel Worth) their return was greeted with adulation by a new generation of fans and musicians (such as Belle & Sebastian).
McLennan was an unparalleled lyricist and a prolific and meticulous composer. His autobiographical masterpiece, Cattle and Cane, was voted by the Australian Performing Rights Association as one of the 10 greatest Australian songs of all time.
He died of a heart attack in his sleep on 6 May 2006.
Vocals, guitar, bass
Keyboards, violin, guitar, oboe