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[Book Review] Paper Paradise – Glenn Wheatley

When the book is narrated by the author just months before he left this world it instantly evokes chills from the opening words. The life of Glenn Wheatly is celebrated in Paper Paradise, the ups and downs, a no holds barred very candid look at one of the best in the music biz.

The introduction is penned and read by his son Tim and I was tearing up within minutes. A beautiful dedication to his father and a wonderful insight into the man Glenn was. An amazing addition was the re-recording of Because I Love You by Tim himself, a stunning rendition and one that made me stop and listen for the duration

With a career spanning 40 years, there was certainly a lot to get through in this book and the narration was smooth and sharp. Glenn does an amazing job and puts lots of expression into his words, his emotions and feeling coming through in every chapter. With a few false starts, Glenn’s music career took off as a bass player in The Master’s Apprentices, known to anyone and everyone and they went on to have many top ten hits. There was a massive success with Little River Band, not just in Australia but also hugely triumphant in America with Glenn at the management helm. Then in 1986 everything changed for Glenn Wheatly as his record label Wheatly Records produced his friend John Farnham’s album Whispering Jack, this still remains Australia’s highest-selling album and one that can be found in nearly every home in Australia, mine included. His friendship with John Farnham was one that never wavered, friends, until the very end and is beautifully depicted throughout this book.

This book was so full of information that my head was literally spinning as I listened, how could one person possibly fit so much into his life journey, together with having a wife and family. But as you read you can see the early starts and late nights were just part of how Glenn managed his time. Paper Palace is such an informative book; it is a who’s who insight into not just the music industry but also FM radio and corporate takeovers. EON FM was launched by Glenn and was the first commercial FM station to air in Australia in 1980. If you are as old as I am you will remember EON FM fondly, but for the younger generation you now listen to it as Triple M. What an achievement to be part of, there were so many times I said to myself “I did not know that!” Glenn had so many fingers in so many pies it was exhausting just listening.

Paper Paradise did not shy away from the lows and there were a few throughout the 90’s but it was with grit and determination that Glenn fought his way back up to the top. Resilience to keep his family together, whether it was in a Toorak mansion or on a blow-up mattress on his friend’s floor was always a priority. His love and dedication to Gaynor and his three children Tim, Kara, and Samantha was evident and shone through over all the dark days.

The book was released originally in 1999 with Glenn recording the audio version just months before his death in February 2022. This updated release is out now and the voice we have all grown to know over his 40 years in the industry will live on for future generations. If there was ever a handbook for anyone looking to start out in management this is it, such an informative read and one I would highly recommend.

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