John Farnham: Finding the Voice (2023) Movie Script

[gentle, pensive music playing]
[wrenches and drills whirring]
[Olivia] Australian society in the 1960s
was sheltered.
We were very isolated
from the rest of the world.
It was like we were sleepwalking.
[Jimmy] Music woke us up.
The big question was,
who was gonna be our big star?
Who were we gonna worship?
[John] I was born in London,
in the heart of London.
I came to Australia,
I was about 10, I think.
[Rose] There was always music going on.
There's just two years
between Jean and John,
and they used to go around
entertaining the old people in England.
At one stage there,
Jean and John did "Tin Soldier,"
and Jean had to sit on Johnny's lap.
She fell off
and John just carried on with the show.
From that moment, my father-in-law said
he's gonna be a showman.
[gentle, pensive music continues]
["Don't Let the Sun
Catch You Crying" playing]
And it can always come again...
[John] We played at a country dance,
a place called Cohuna.
I joined a group called Strings Unlimited.
We used to work the local discos,
and dances, and things.
We backed Bev Harrell,
who was an Adelaide singer.
She was very big at the time.
What am I doing here with you
When I promised that I'd be true?
I arrived and I've done my rehearsal,
the band has started to play,
and I had no idea who the singer was.
...birds sing
It may be hard to discover...
And I peeked round the corner,
to have a look at this boy,
and just thought, "Wow."
Wow. [chuckles] Wow.
In all ways.
I was there with Darryl,
who was my boyfriend.
I think he probably thought
the same as me.
This is a star in the making.
[reporter] What was it that told you
he had the potential it needed?
[Darryl] His looks.
The way he worked to the public.
And, uh, we took it from there.
[Bev] Darryl went up to John and said:
"Look, can I have your number?
I'm really interested in managing you."
He rang about seven weeks later and said:
"I've got you some work in Adelaide.
Got you $30 for the three jobs."
I was still a plumber's apprentice,
and I was on 22 a week.
I went over to Adelaide
and worked three dances.
That was the first time
anybody had ever screamed at me.
[David] I was doing a TV show with Bev,
and I met Darryl Sambell.
She said, "This guy does my hair
and he's a friend of mine."
We chatted while doing the TV show.
He said, "There's a guy you've gotta hear.
His name's Johnny Farnham."
I was in the studio,
and Peter Best, he had written
a jingle for Ansett-ANA.
They said, "We're looking
for a great voice for this jingle.
Do you know anybody?"
I said, "Listen to this boy."
They said, "That's the voice."
[John] Susan Jones
Hello there.
The happiest girl
With the friendliest smile
[David] He hadn't had this experience
in the studio,
he hadn't been
a professional session singer,
but he took direction
straight off the top.
He was just floating through these notes,
which, not many,
even professional jingle singers would do.
I just walked into the studio and said:
"I'd really like to sign you to EMI."
And he said, "Well, yeah,
you'd have to come
and talk to my mom and dad."
[upbeat music playing]
The next day, I went out
and met his mom and dad.
We wondered what he was going into.
Um, you know,
he was giving up an apprenticeship.
[John] I went to my parents and said,
"Look, I've got a chance here.
I can either stay at plumbing,
and work at that for the rest of my life,"
so it was either do one or the other.
So I thought, "I'm only gonna get
one chance in my life
to really get stuck into singing."
So they said, "All right,
you do that if you want to do it,
and we'll be right behind you
all the way."
[David] When I went out to the house
with him and I said, "Do you write songs?"
And he sang this "In My Room."
[John] In my room there is heartache
In my room there is sorrow
In my room there's no happiness
Only pain
[David] And I said, "That's a great song.
That's a lovely song."
[Bev] It was an era
when people didn't write their own songs,
so the record producers would get demos
from overseas.
[DJ 1] What's going on? Who's this?
-[DJ 2] You can't clean now.
-[DJ 1] Who is it?
[DJ 2] I've told them repeatedly
not to clean while we're on the air.
[David] I was writing to every publisher
around the world to get songs.
They're only gonna send the songs
that weren't making it to the big artists
in America and in England.
-[DJ 2] What is your name?
-Sadie, the cleaning lady.
And "Sadie" was one of those songs
that no one was interested in.
[John] He played it to me and I said,
"Oh, no,
I want to be a rock 'n' roll singer."
[Bev] David really tried
to convince him to do it
because he just knew it'd be number one.
I did indeed.
[Bev] That's a pretty big thing
to convince someone,
to say, "Next time,
then you can do what you want to do."
[DJ 1] Looks like Phyllis Diller to me.
-[DJ 2] Madam, madam.
-[Sadie] This boy sings the song about me.
It did the job.
He started singing
with groups around Melbourne
and is now being groomed
as one of pop music's young hopefuls.
Ladies and gentlemen,
a Bandstand start for Johnny Farnham.
["Sadie the Cleaning Lady" playing]
Sadie, the cleaning lady
With trusty scrubbing brush
And pail of water
Worked her fingers to the bone
For the life she had at home
[Darryl] We released that
on November the 19th, 1967.
Sadie, the cleaning lady
[Darryl] And by the 21st,
it was number one in Victoria.
It was incredible. It was unbelievable.
It broke him immediately, really,
and he became a heartthrob overnight.
So she could spend the night
By TV napping
[Bev] He must have been 17. A baby.
Johnny Farnham was the cool thing,
and he was a little pop idol.
Oh, Sadie, the cleaning lady
I went to see, with my girlfriends,
a concert in Perth,
and I can remember
girls were just screaming.
Well, her red-detergent hands
And he only had "Sadie."
Have for years not held a man's
And time would find her heart
Expired of hunger
Scrub your floors, do your chores
Dear old Sadie
I liked hard rock when I was young.
Even as a young fella,
I liked it 'cause my brother was in bands.
But John's voice,
as much as it was a novelty song,
and it was like vaudeville almost.
There was something about his voice
that was so appealing.
You'd find yourself whistling it,
singing it, as you walk.
When he brought out "Sadie," I laughed.
"What's he doing?"
He wanted to be a rock 'n' roll singer
and he's doing this "Sadie"?
[Olivia] It's not my kind of song.
A lot of people liked it.
[Cherie] It's hard to believe now,
but "Sadie" was
the biggest hit of the '60s.
In Australia,
the biggest hit of the decade.
Dear old Sadie
[David] Unfortunately,
with the success of "Sadie,"
he didn't have a lot of time to write
because he was so busy doing television
and everything else.
So we never got to record
a lot of his songs.
[girls screaming]
Raindrops are falling on my head
I'm just like a guy
Whose feet are too big for his bed
Nothing seems to fit
[Darryl] I remember at the time,
I was image-hunting.
There were people that wore boots
to the knees and tight pants,
and very loose shirts and a lot of beads.
I thought I'd dress him
in a similar thing,
like the dude
on the Johnnie Walker bottle.
Minus the hat, of course.
'Cause I'm never gonna stop the rain
[Olivia] Johnny's version of "Raindrops,"
again, straight to number one.
Because I'm free
Nothing's worrying me
He was loveable Johnny.
He looked great, he had hits.
Walking the floor
On my hands over you, girl
I can't believe
What you're trying to do
And so the crown went on the head.
-[presenter] Good on you, king!
There's a big king for you.
Walking the floor
On my hands over you, girl
I can't believe
What you're trying to do
-Johnny Farnham.
-[audience cheering and applauding]
I want it. I want it.
I've got an outfit that'll just match it.
King of Pop
is something I look at very fondly.
'Cause I won it three times
and John won it five times in a row.
Congratulations, you really deserve it.
I think you're marvellous, just great.
I hope it fits.
[Jimmy] John was definitely worthy
of being on top of the pile,
and people just worshipped him.
[audience applauding]
One is the loneliest number
That you'll ever do
[David] Every TV company wanted him.
Every newspaper wanted him.
6KY Perth, and we're gonna get Johnny
to read an ad.
-[Perth DJ] Yes, now.
-Now, now.
$1.85 is all you pay
when you rent General Electric TV...
John'd be good,
he'd do whatever you asked him to do.
Either I was working or I was asleep.
-[young John] Thanks, Mark.
-I did work an enormous amount of hours.
So when I was awake, I was vulnerable.
Yes, it's the saddest thing
[David] It was a game to Darryl.
He'd had no experience at all
in this business.
He was a hairdresser,
and suddenly here he is,
managing the hottest property
in the country.
I would always set the songs he sang.
I would also rehearse the bands.
I knew nothing about music,
but I knew what it sounded like.
Darryl was definitely different.
He was terribly focused,
and if he'd chosen John,
he's gonna put everything into John.
[Jill] Well, Darryl was in love with him.
He wasn't a nice man.
He was quite evil, actually.
One is the loneliest...
He used to give John uppers and downers.
John'd sleep all day and think,
"Why am I sleeping so long?"
[reporter] He have any time for girls?
[Darryl] Very little. He's...
Hasn't got a girlfriend.
[reporter] Is he at the mercy of his fans,
or is he at the mercy of his manager?
Is he just somebody who's pushed
from here to there and turned on?
[Darryl] Well, John and myself,
we are more friends, I'd say,
than manager and artist.
Has yours been maybe a fatherly role?
I don't know.
I think looking after my interests,
I suppose.
["One" continues]
-[song ends]
-[audience cheering and applauding]
["Banks of the Ohio" playing]
I asked my love to take a walk
[Cherie] Everyone wanted to go to London
to be a star.
Olivia Newton-John was taking off.
She was huge at the time.
She was having the kind of career
that John should have been having.
[Olivia] London was full of music
and all these amazing people.
Yeah, incredible time.
Down by the banks of the Ohio
[lively rock music playing]
[Jimmy] Every band that was worth anything
would work their way to London.
America was still a closed shop,
whereas, I think
because we all came from Britain,
and to try and get success there,
you know,
was sort of like Mecca for us.
[reporter] Can he be a star overseas?
-Of course. Of course.
-[reporter] How easily?
Very easily. We've just gotta find
the right channel.
[reporter] Can you be a star overseas too?
I don't know,
but I'll give it a damn good go.
[David] Because of "Sadie,"
EMI offered me a job at Abbey Road,
and John was still signed to EMI.
So I thought, if I'm gonna be
at EMI in England,
at least I've got a chance of getting them
interested in John for the U.K.
Darryl flew over with John
and was an embarrassment
from the start.
He didn't hold his alcohol too well,
and he was supposed to be coming
and introducing Johnny
to the people at EMI.
I couldn't get them interested in John.
I took him in to EMI,
I took him around to publishers,
but EMI said, "We've got Cliff Richard.
We don't need this guy."
Congratulations and jubilations
I want the world to know
I'm happy as can be
[David] So John just got on the plane
and went back to Melbourne,
which was a heartbreak for me.
[Cliff] I'm happy as can be
-[song ends]
-[audience cheering and applauding]
["Because I Love You" playing]
Everything was changing in Australia.
We were at war in Vietnam.
It's because I love you
Not because we're far apart
It's because I miss you
Thoughts of you come back to me
[Cherie] At home, the music world
was just going crazy
with events like Sunbury.
Do what you wanna do
Be what you wanna be, yeah
Do what you wanna do
Be what you wanna be, yeah
Once we walked together...
[Jimmy] The whole manufactured pop stars
became a thing of the past,
and it wasn't about one person anymore.
It became bands.
Do what you wanna do
Be what you wanna be, yeah
[Glenn] I was in The Masters Apprentices,
and we were always dubbed
as the "bad boys of rock."
And John was the pop star.
So we were chalk and cheese
in that respect,
but that didn't stop us
becoming great mates.
[Gaynor] My sister was four years younger,
and she had every John Farnham poster
in her bedroom.
I was next door with every
Masters Apprentices poster on my walls,
and the two collided
somewhere in the hallway.
Be what you wanna be
[Glenn] We used to go out on the weekends
shooting bunny rabbits together.
Go out to Wangaratta
and sleep in the Masters van.
We did silly things together.
[Gaynor] John and Glenn became friends
through their mutual experiences
in the industry at that particular time.
Yes, Glenn was very rock 'n' roll,
but he was very sweet at heart.
And I think John was really sweet,
but perhaps there was
a bit of rock 'n' roll in there
that wanted to come out.
And they just found a beautiful plateau
where they both...
not sought solace in each other
but definitely companionship.
[pensive music playing]
[Glenn] We actually shared
the same manager, Darryl Sambell.
We were flatting together in St. Kilda
in what Darryl liked to say always
that we were staying at his penthouse.
It was just the top floor
of a block of flats.
The penthouse
was full of Darryl's friends.
And here's this two little blond boys.
[playing "Turn Up Your Radio"]
My life changed dramatically one night
after a Festival Hall show
with The Masters Apprentices.
The show was sold out,
we were the headline attraction.
There was chaos that night
and I remember being pulled off the stage.
My velvet suit was ripped to shreds.
My guitar did a lap around Festival Hall
before it came back to me.
All I can remember was
the promoter running around, going:
"We had a bigger crowd
than the Beatles."
I'm sitting here.
"A bigger crowd than the Beatles."
That was the night
the penny dropped for me.
We only got paid $200.
So by the time the four people divided
into 200, it cost me that night,
because my suit that I had to replace
cost me $70.
I started to think,
"Something's wrong with this management,
this doesn't add up."
So that day, I decided to move on
from Darryl Sambell.
I took over management
of The Masters Apprentices
and changed the way we did business.
[young Glenn] Good afternoon.
We are the Little River Band.
[Gaynor] Glenn went from playing bass
to full-time music management.
He put a couple of very fine singers,
songwriters together,
who became the Little River Band.
Boy, did they absolutely take off.
Why are you in so much hurry?
Is it really worth the worry?
Look around, then slow down
What's it like inside the bubble?
Does your head ever give you trouble?
It's no sin
Trade it in
Hang on, help is on its way
I'll be there as fast as I can
My God, how good are they?
There wasn't a note out of place.
There wasn't a voice
that wasn't perfectly in tune.
Everything was so perfectly scripted.
We looked at LRB as being like
they're gonna take over from the Eagles.
Don't you forget
Who'll take care of you
They were having the overseas success
that people like us only dream of.
[George] In Australia, there are rumours
of enormous multimillion-dollar deals
between yourselves and Capitol Records.
Um... I'm afraid they're not rumours.
It is a substantial deal that we've done
with Capitol Records here in America.
Hang on
-[song ends]
-[audience cheering and applauding]
["Summer Swinging Groove" playing]
[Cherie] By the mid-'70s,
Johnny's star was fading
and the hits were drying up.
[man] Slate 11, take 1.
Do you ever get depressed at all?
Yeah, a lot.
I don't like the word "depressed."
I'm funny with words, I think, but I...
I get thinking about, uh...
where I'd like to go,
what would I like to do,
and I don't really...
get anywhere with what I'm thinking about.
And it's a really funny way.
[Cherie] Darryl was grabbing at anything,
and he even put Johnny in a musical.
It's where he met his strongest ally.
[Jill] He was very funny
and very happy to be around.
He was very easy to get along with,
very cute, very cute. [chuckles]
[audience cheering and applauding]
[Gaynor] Jill at that time was probably
the best modern dancer of her era.
She was absolutely fantastic,
and it didn't take long
for John to notice her in the chorus.
I think once his heart was set
and his eyes were on her, that was it.
It was a done deal.
Where she comes, from nobody knows
Now that you ask me...
[Bev] Perhaps Darryl felt he was
losing John because John fell in love.
The way she smiles at him
His heart just swells...
[Gaynor] Darryl wanted Jill gone,
and he did everything he could
to try and destroy that relationship,
which only made it stronger.
Don't you know it's magic?
Ah, baby, it's magic
Look in her eyes
They're a little bit hazy
Paradise coming to a sweet little lady
Don't you know it's magic?
Oh, baby, it's magic
Magic carpet ride for a woman in love
Don't you know it's magic?
[Cherie] After a nine-year partnership,
Johnny sacked Darryl.
A few months later, EMI dropped Johnny.
Magic carpet ride for you and me
It's a tough business
because you can become very disposable.
[Gaynor] There was a period in the '70s
where I don't know where he went.
This spectacular voice
was missing in action.
'Cause I'm never
Gonna stop the rain...
We lost track of John.
He may have floundered as well.
[Glenn] I got back to Australia,
on the Gold Coast,
John's on at Twin Town,
so I went down to see him perform.
Thank you, everybody.
Do you like the old songs?
Do you like old songs?
-[audience cheering]
-Can I have a C, please, fellas?
I think... Yup. It goes...
-[guitar playing melody]
[Glenn] He had a band that could not play.
And at one point,
halfway through one of the songs,
he puts his hand up
and says, "I can't go on."
Then he said to the band,
"Okay, guys, it's here.
It's one, two, three, four."
He had to count the band in.
I'm sitting there,
going, "This is the worst--
How can this be John Farnham,
the best singer I'd ever heard,
and he's got a band that can't play?"
Some nights there was only 15 people.
We were on the bones of our ass.
[Glenn] I got his black tie,
threw it in the slops bin.
I said, "Mate, you singing with a band
that couldn't even play in time.
How bad is that?"
[song ends]
-[audience cheering and applauding]
-[John] Good night. God bless you.
Look around you...
[Glenn] The fateful night
was when John came to Vegas.
[Gaynor] Glenn invited John and Jill
to come and see Little River Band
at the height of their fame.
Take time to make time
Make time to be there...
[Glenn] John couldn't believe
that this little Aussie band
playing to a sold-out house
and people going crazy.
Look around...
[John] And it blew me away.
Afterwards, we had beers together
and he said:
"What are you doing?"
I said, "I'm not doing terribly much."
Feel for the winter
But don't have a cold heart...
[Glenn] He was financially in trouble.
Invested in a restaurant which went bad.
And I love you best
You're not like the rest
[Glenn] He was pretty much broke.
You're there when I need you
[Glenn] I said, "Listen, mate,
why don't I start to manage you?"
I'm gonna need you
When John signed with Glenn,
I think he finally found somebody
that totally believed in him
and had a vision for him.
John was the creative.
He wasn't the businessman.
He needed the support
so that he could do what he did best.
[Glenn] I basically suggested,
"Mate, you're not Johnny anymore.
Johnny Farnham's synonymous
with 'Sadie, The Cleaning Lady.'
You're John. John Farnham."
[Cherie] Once he changed to John,
it said, "I'm serious.
I'm a grown-up artist,
and this is where I'm going to go."
I was a bit frustrated there for a while.
I wasn't being stimulated
by what I was doing.
I don't think
the people I was working to
were being stimulated by what I was doing.
I decided to stick me neck out
and go in a different direction.
[Tommy] His version of "Help" came
from singing it at home,
playing the piano himself.
When I was young
So much younger than today
"Help" was when he finally realised,
"Oh, I can do this."
That was when the penny dropped.
He did it in a way that really served
his gift and his range.
Help me if you can
I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round
This was him doing something
that was John Farnham,
his own arrangement.
Heart on his sleeve, "This is me."
And now my life has changed
In oh so many ways
[Cherie] The emotion that came through,
that's when I started to think,
"Oh, my gosh, Johnny Farnham can sing."
Help me if you can
I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you
[Richard] When John did it,
it became a power ballad anthem.
It's a vocal master class. Just that song.
Please, please help me
[Gaynor] I wouldn't call it desperation
behind the song,
but there was definitely--
This was John's almost audition
to the world again.
[playing "Too Much Too Soon"]
How can I reach you...
[Graeham] John's an incredible musician.
With so many words in the way...
[Graeham] The thing that surprised me was,
he can just sing anything.
And there's something
I've just got to say
I set up a meeting. I said,
"I would like to offer to produce."
You know that I want you
[Gaynor] I believe Glenn
approached Graeham to produce John,
to give him a fresh start.
New songs, new album.
"Let's get John's voice back out there."
Let's make it last
[Gaynor] Graeham Goble
was a founding member of Little River Band
and the writer of some
of the most extraordinary--
Most of their hits.
Friday night, it was late
I was walking you home
We got down to the gate
I was dreaming of the night
[Graeham] In Little River Band,
we had other writers.
Would it turn out right?
You might get three songs a year.
I thought this is a great opportunity
for John and myself.
I want to build my world around you
Glenn knew how tricky Graeham was.
But he also knew
how obsessed he was with John's voice
and how he also had fantastic songs.
So it was just the great voice,
the great songs. "Let's do it."
John had a kit bag full of cassettes.
He said, "These are songs that people
have written for me or given to me."
There would've been 100 songs.
I was honest
and I said, "I don't really hear anything
other than an arrangement of 'Help.'"
And "Jilly's Song" that he'd half-written
about his wife Jilly.
He said, "Do you have any songs?"
I said, "Of course. Lots of songs."
Graeham is a total control freak.
Graeham would have known
what songs he wanted John to sing
before they even purported
to have an album.
I think the Uncovered album was some
of the best singing that he's ever done.
[Gaynor] Uncovered could have been
John's signature album.
However, Graeham was the producer,
and once again,
John was reined in very much.
I ended up writing eight of the ten songs,
as well as producing it.
[Mike] A lot of people might
not appreciate the gamble you took
when you decided to change image,
to go to a more sophisticated rock style.
It's not just saying,
"Let's do new songs."
-It's almost a lifestyle change.
-Yeah. Total change.
I don't sing "Sadie"
or "Raindrops" anymore.
I wanna move forward.
Took a long time to decide that.
"You're John, best singer in the country,
I'll get you out and be doing
what you should be doing."
Too much too soon
[Glenn] I put together
the best band in the country.
People like Tommy Emmanuel.
I mean, it was a hot band.
[Tommy] John was loving it.
When we started rehearsing,
we fine-tuned it.
The sound was really great,
he had a great team around him.
Then we took that band out on the road.
I don't really want you to leave
I remember the opening night.
It was the night I met Glenn.
He had John performing
with his hot new band,
and they were singing the songs
from the Uncovered album,
which for the first time
did not include "Sadie."
[Cherie] The Australian music scene
in the '80s was absolutely exploding
with all this new and edgy sound.
Everybody would just go to the pub
just to rock out with these great bands.
Midnight Oil. Cold Chisel with Jimmy.
All last night we were learning
[Jimmy] When you're in the thick of a pub
and knee-deep in beer,
and there's people grabbing your arse,
it's tribal.
It's not the place for the faint-hearted.
Somewhere bridges were burning
[Jimmy] If you're too nice, too polished,
or you miss that primal connection,
it doesn't matter how good you are.
John's natural environment is not a pub.
You can put a pair of leather pants
on that man,
but it does not make him a Jimmy Barnes.
[Cherie] He was not that.
And it was a whole scene.
Johnny did not fit into that at all.
[Tommy] I remember coming off the stage
and we're in the dressing room,
and he punched the locker door.
And it was metal and he smashed it in.
And I said to him, "Hey, singer.
Your turn's coming. Don't worry.
Your turn is coming."
Happy anniversary, baby
Got you on my mind
LRB to the public and LRB in private.
I don't know how Glenn did it.
I don't know how he managed
these very strong personalities.
I see it in your eyes
Managing Little River Band was
like managing World War II.
It was a firecracker,
always ready to go off.
Skid marks.
[Graeham] We had played with
both Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles,
and to be frank, we thought
we were every bit as good as them.
Graeham sacrificed Shorrock to get John.
[Graeham] It got to the point with Glenn
where it had broken down,
and I'd sort of had enough of him.
I think Glenn had enough of us as well.
It was a two-way street.
[Glenn] I didn't make a decision to leave.
It was made for me.
Glenn was asked to leave.
They're both amazing vocalists,
but Glenn would interpret my songs
and John would sing what I had written.
That was the big difference
and the big appeal for me as a songwriter.
There's a lesson here to learn
When your baby ups and leaves you
[Gaynor] Glenn and I were just married
at that very point.
First of all,
Glenn Shorrock and John Farnham
were both best men at our wedding,
so we loved them both.
John was the only call
that we wanted to make.
Happy anniversary
John said to me, "What do you think?"
I said, "What are you gonna lose?"
[Cherie] I thought that move of John
as a front man to LRB
was a really important transition
to mainstream pop.
It would be just perfect for him.
[Jimmy] Suddenly people went,
"Oh, I can see John in a band.
I can see John doing Apollo Stadium,"
or whatever the theatres are.
[John] When I was asked to join,
I said "Look, if you want me
to sing like Glenn Shorrock,
we've got a problem because I can't.
I can only sing how I sing."
[audience applauding]
This is all-- It was all very exciting
for us all in here.
How did it affect the band?
Going with a new lead singer,
and especially someone of John's stature
because he's such an individualist?
The nervous part for us, Don,
is that we don't know yet.
This is officially our first engagement
since John has joined the band.
We've basically been in the studio.
Time will tell. We're all confident.
We feel that it's going to work.
John has to sing old material as well.
That's what Little River Band
is famous for.
[Don] It's not John Farnham
and Little River Band?
It's Little River Band.
I remember John being so excited
about touring with Little River Band.
I know the appeal for John was
to finally be not a pub singer,
not a cabaret singer,
he was finally where he should be.
On a huge stage, with a huge crew,
fabulous lighting,
full production,
in front of tens of thousands of people.
-[John] Fantastic!
-[audience cheering]
Thank you very much.
If there's one thing in my life
That's missing
It's the time that I spend alone
Sailing on the cool
And bright clear water
There's lots of
Those friendly people...
[David] John and I being the newcomers
to the Little River Band,
I think both of us were keen to imprint
our personality in the band.
Oh, yeah. Come on!
-[Tommy] He's a front man.
-Come on!
John's much more adventurous on-stage
than all those guys.
He immediately comes forward
and is singing to people
and engaging the crowd.
He's the one in the spotlight.
Just say that you love me...
The spotlight would always be on John,
and we felt like, "Why are we even here?"
Because there was no attention to us.
And we felt we were a backing band
to a solo artist.
[Glenn] At one stage, Graeham had
the crew gaffer-tape his mic stand
and lead to the stage.
He fucking ripped
that thing off the floor.
He went on, "You fucking tied me
to the fucking stage."
I don't remember completely.
Sounds like something I'd do
back in the day.
I wouldn't do that today.
[audience cheering and applauding]
I think he assumed
he would be going in there
with a little bit of input
into what he would be singing.
But that was not to be the case.
He was singing somebody else's catalogue
on somebody else, "Graeham's," stage.
[John] All I was was the singer
singing the hits that were already there.
I was never really in the band.
[Jimmy] I think he probably
felt trapped in LRB after a while.
He wasn't in control
of what he was singing.
It was like "Sadie" all over again.
[John] I found it a real challenge.
[Gaynor] Once again,
John found himself being controlled.
I'm not gonna take my shirt off. Nah.
-I don't wanna ruin my cashmere, mate.
-Take 6.
[John] When you make your move...
I remember
when John wrote "Playing to Win"
and how proud he was of that song.
You can be too late
[Gaynor] That was his coming-of-age song.
"Playing to Win."
Definitely my motto, for sure.
Song I wrote while with Little River Band.
"Playing to Win."
[Jill] "Playing to Win," John wrote that,
and that was a message to LRB.
[Gaynor] The night at the
Universal Amphitheatre was very important.
Everybody was in the audience
to see Little River Band.
You can be too late
This time I'm playing to win
[Gaynor] It was star-studded.
A lot of famous people
in the audience. Frank Sinatra...
And Glenn was absolutely
watching the band implode.
Playing to win this time
I was running like a headless chook,
trying to pacify everybody,
"Just keep it together," you know?
If you take too long...
So I got Glenn's drink
and crushed a Valium into it.
This time I'm playing to win
I think it was two Valium.
I shouldn't have put the second Valium in
because as everybody is tearing
each other's hair apart,
we walked into the promoter's room
and Glenn's asleep on the couch.
I didn't see
That was not what I needed
Oh, I was a fool
[Glenn] That was the end.
That night, John came up to Graeham
and Beeb, and said:
"You're stopping me.
I want you guys to get out of my way."
[John] I was the one in the spotlight,
and it put a lot of pressure on me.
I thought, if I'm gonna put myself
under this kind of pressure,
then I'll do it for all of the reasons,
and stand or fall on my decisions.
He played to all those fantastic numbers,
and you'd think
he'd be earning a lot of money.
The debt that LRB had
against previous albums
that were not successful
were put across to John's earnings.
John, by the time he did leave,
LRB actually had substantial debt.
'Twas grace that taught
My heart to fear
And grace
My fears relieved...
[John] That was very difficult.
I had to sell my house, my cars and stuff.
My mother-in-law was sitting there,
and she said,
"Let's take Robert to McDonald's."
I actually couldn't take them.
I turned to my wife. "I can't. We can't."
We didn't have the money.
Through many dangers
Toils and snares
John left LRB in debt but a total man.
I have already come
'Twas grace that led...
I tried to get him a record deal
and couldn't.
The problem was, this was the curse
of "Sadie, The Cleaning Lady,"
because every record company is going,
"I won't sign Johnny Farnham."
I mean, everybody passed.
Will lead me home
Amazing Grace...
Well, he nailed everything he sang.
How sweet the sound
[Venetta] For him to sing "Amazing Grace,"
how he carried it,
his participation in it,
was really so truthful and so clear.
Wretch like me
I once was lost...
[Glenn] I made him a promise.
"I promise you a chance to do the album
that defines what John Farnham is."
[Gaynor] It would've been very easy
for John to pull the covers up
and just feel crushed.
But between Glenn and Jill,
and with John's voice,
they came together and formulated a plan.
I see, yes, I see
Yes, I see
Good evening, here is the news.
There was a few questions from Gaynor
when I said we've had to take a mortgage
on the house to borrow the money.
'Cause I needed cash, I mean,
we needed to pay the studio,
to pay the musicians.
We didn't have a mortgage in those days.
They were the good days.
God, now we re-mortgage
the mortgages of the mortgage.
I was not consulted, but, gosh,
I would've put two houses on John
at that particular point in time.
In hindsight. Probably.
[Glenn] I desperately tried to get
all the superstar producers to come out.
[Ross] Quincy Jones, right?
Glenn was trying to get Quincy
to do the next Farnham album,
and he couldn't get it.
[David] Ross was a music producer
who doubled as a stage manager
on tour in America back in the LRB days.
Ross said, "Pick me."
And for some reason, Glenn did.
John liked Ross,
'cause Ross was pretty quiet
and easy-going.
I think John felt comfortable with Ross.
[Glenn] I set him up, he was
renting a house in Manningham Road.
But he had a garage.
So the old garage band came to be.
Jill was upstairs.
[Jill] I didn't hear a thing.
I would take them down biscuits
every now and again.
John said, "We should get Hirschy up,
let's get this going."
So I rang Hirschy and said:
"Interested in coming up and working
with John and I to do a record?"
He said, "Yeah."
I'd just invested a lot of money
in a very expensive piece of equipment
called a Fairlight,
which costs $35,000 in 1984.
Which I think is insane.
I can't believe I spent all that
on one piece of equipment.
So I got the Kombi,
I filled it up with all my gear.
I had the Fairlight, I had a DX7,
I had a Prophet-5 synthesiser,
a QX1 sequencer
hooked up to a bank of eight DX7s,
which were in modules.
John had a eight-track recorder.
We could record his voice
onto analogue tape.
And then we combined that with Ross.
He had this new drum machine,
a sampling drum machine,
so that was our orchestra, if you like,
in John's garage.
That was our palette for Whispering Jack.
The digital world was only just starting
when we were doing this.
And sampling. This was really early.
So I think the sampler we had,
the drum machine,
was one of the first ones in the country.
And what you find with John,
he loves trying things out.
He's up for anything as he said.
"Yep, I'm up for that."
[David] We were all on this funny,
little boat together,
three wacky, different personalities.
John and I were, I guess,
the primary creative forces.
And Ross was there to observe,
and to guide,
and to help choose the best moments.
It was a pretty good team, I think.
This album was really important for him
'cause there was so much riding on it.
So much riding on it.
Looking for the songs is the basic start,
and I must have listened
to 2000 songs, easy.
Demo tapes, I listened to everything.
And I had to listen to the songs
in their entirety
because being a budding songwriter myself,
I understand how much work
these people put into it,
so I had to do at least that,
give them that courtesy.
I was ringing publishers
and saying, "Send songs, send songs."
And a lot a people couldn't be bothered.
"John? What are you...? John Farnham?
Not really, no. Johnny? No."
[Gaynor] Despite all the pressure,
he was, for the first time,
in control of his career.
And really, he couldn't be happier.
[David] John is very fussy.
He rejected some big songs.
The one I remember is,
we got a demo of "We Built This City."
On rock 'n' roll.
We built this city
We built this city on rock 'n' roll
Ross and I looked at each other
and thought:
"Wow, that's such a pop anthem."
And John said, "Nah. I don't like it.
It's too twee. It's like..."
We built this city
He started mocking it, so... Next.
["Love to Shine" playing]
We put a lot of effort into the sounds
and the arrangements of the songs.
It was a very important album for me.
I wanted to walk away from it and say:
"This is the best album I have ever made."
You have no cause
To doubt what you see
Close your eyes
And set your feelings free
["Pressure Down" playing]
Set the wheels in motion
And watch them turning round
I want to sail across the ocean
I've grown weary of this town
[Gaynor] I think they'd listened
to absolutely every song,
every demo that had been sent,
and there were deadlines,
we had to put this album out.
A little closer to you
We had eight songs that were really good,
and we needed one more song.
I'll never forget the morning
when we pulled out a cassette,
put it on and it was "You're the Voice."
And by this songwriter of Manfred Mann.
He'd done this and I thought,
"Oh, yeah. Well, he's a good songwriter."
A nuclear war cannot be won.
[reporter] You can't talk to the
Soviet Union the way you can speak
to other governments and states.
[Ross] It was at a time when the fear
of nuclear weapons was at its height.
I was with some friends,
and we were gonna go to the CND march,
which started at 6:00 in the morning and--
Yeah, we overslept.
I think there was 150,000 people
or something.
I was pretty upset with myself
for not being there
and it just gave me the idea for a song.
I had a session booked in with two other
writers that I'd worked with a lot before,
Andy Qunta and Maggie Ryder.
Now, within an hour or something,
we had what we liked as a verse.
I came up with that as an idea
and she went:
Da-da-da, da-da, da-da-da
Da-da-da, da-da, da-da-da
And I sang:
And we went, "Fantastic."
[Chris] Keith Reid, who was
the great lyricist for Procul Harum,
I went around to his place the next day
and within about four hours,
we had written the lyric
that is what it is today.
[Ross] Doris Tyler worked for Glenn
as a publisher.
She gave it to me.
I got in the car
to drive out to John's place,
and I went, "Holy shit, this is good."
Get to John's place, I said, "Play this."
We listened to it and we all looked
at each other and thought, "Wow."
And he went, "That's fucking great."
[John] And "You're the Voice" came in
about two weeks
before we finished recording the album.
And I just arced up.
I said, "That's mine. I want that song."
We gotta have the songs now.
This is a killer.
[Chris] Well, I got a call
from my publishing company.
They said, "John Farnham has
recorded 'You're the Voice.'
Is it okay to give him permission?"
And I said, "No. No."
The only thing I knew about John Farnham
was a song called
"Sadie, The Cleaning Lady."
Oh, Sadie, the cleaning lady
[Gaynor] We couldn't take no.
We went ahead and did it anyway.
[Chris] And they recorded it.
They weren't supposed to,
without getting permission, but they did.
We decided to go for the machine gun,
sort of hand-clap effect
as a sort of militaristic
but also celebratory tribalism.
I don't know what we were doing,
but it just-- That--
All that sort of stuff seemed
to feel right for the lyric of the song.
But in the solo section,
my idea was pan pipes.
All these pan pipes of the Andes,
and I simulated them all on synthesisers
and samples of actual pan pipes as well.
But John said, "There's something missing.
It's just not quite lifting enough.
I know, bagpipes."
I went, "Really? Really?" You know?
"Yeah, I can hear them."
I said, "Okay, your call."
[David] We contacted one of the best
bagpipe exponents in Melbourne.
He said, "Bagpipes can only play
in one key, B flat."
And I said, "Oh, well, we're in F."
[playing "You're the Voice"]
When I had to change the whole arrangement
to go up to that key for the bagpipes,
the amazing thing was
that the song sounded better
even before we put the bagpipes on there.
Sometimes the limitation of an instrument
is the very thing that you need
to make something great.
For me, the lay down misre
of all the songs was "You're the Voice,"
and I said to Glenn I wanted to be
in the studio when they recorded it.
"Okay, we're ready.
We're gonna play the song down."
'Cause they wouldn't let me in
while they're doing the whole mix.
Gaynor and Glenn came in, they're off
to some restaurant or something.
They had their nice clothes on.
[Glenn] We had a bottle of champagne.
We'll go into the studio,
get ready to hear it.
"Okay, hit me. Play it to me."
And it left me flat.
Glenn and I looked at each other,
and it was like, "That's not--"
It wasn't quite-- And John looked at us--
Said, "You don't like it, do you?"
I said, "It wasn't like the demo."
And he said,
"No, but we've recorded it properly."
I said, "My problem is, I thought
that your vocal on the demo was better
than the vocal you've done on this."
And he was angry.
So he got very angry with me.
He said, "Okay," to Ross Fraser.
"I'm going out and sing it again.
So turn the lights out, turn the cans up."
[John] I hate it when there are people
in the studio when I'm trying to sing
because I get paranoid.
I think they're laughing at me.
They're talking about me.
You're the voice
Try and understand it
Make a noise and make it clear
And he sang
the living hell out of that song.
And the hairs on our arms
and the back of our necks came up,
and it was like, "That's the song."
It was awesome.
And that became the one.
[John] That was the first time
that I'd really put 110% into it.
I was in every beat of every bar.
After all the elation,
knowing that we had a great product,
it was then I think John sort of plummeted
because we were back in the unknown.
Would it be well received? We didn't know.
[John] I went through the floor
after I finished this record.
It mattered to me, I think,
more than anything else.
We had a launch for Whispering Jack,
and it was just to the people
involved in it, just friends.
It wasn't a media event.
John wasn't there. John wasn't coming.
John wouldn't come.
I know John doesn't like parties
and gatherings,
but this was his moment.
This was his celebration.
Glenn spoke to Jill and said,
"You have to bring him here,
he has to be here.
This is a great moment for him."
[Glenn] Jill said he couldn't face it.
She had to drag him out of the home
'cause he was in the foetal position.
She said he was a mess.
[Jill] So we had a little blue Corolla.
I drove in and John was
in the passenger seat, curled up, crying.
I just said to him:
"Listen, if you don't get out of this car
when we get there and walk in,
it's not gonna happen."
[Glenn] In those days, we didn't know
much what the word depression was,
but I think that John was going
through the stages of that,
with this album,
particularly when he'd finished it.
I knew we'd made something interesting,
and John was--
Voice sounded amazing.
But you never know
whether people are gonna get it or not.
And then I remember Glenn thinking,
"Now, what do I do with it?"
[Ross] Glenn started going around
the radio stations
and trying to get them to play it,
and no one would play it.
"Nah. Johnny Farnham, nah. Don't want it."
Probably didn't even listen.
I couldn't get the majors
to distribute me.
In the end,
decided that I'm gonna go this alone
and set up my own little record label.
Wheatley Records.
I took the white labels
around to Triple M.
And he's going,
"Glenn, this is fucking Johnny.
As long as my ass is facing the ground,
we're never gonna be playing
Johnny Farnham on Triple M."
[Cherie] Glenn had rung
and said he was popping in
with John's new album,
and he wanted to play it to me.
What I did know is that Glenn had been
to several radio stations
and got knock backs.
So I was a little bit worried
that it was another "Sadie"
or something crappy.
Glenn bounced in,
like he always does, over the desk,
with the album, "Let's put this on."
And he said, "Now, this is the single."
And I heard this intro.
[imitating clapping]
And I thought, "Oh, that's unusual."
And it kept building and building.
["You're the Voice" playing]
And the instruments came in.
And then John came in.
We have
The chance to turn the pages over
And I thought, "Holy moly.
This is exquisite. It's great."
And I didn't wait
till the end of the song...
I'm getting a bit emotional.
I didn't wait, and I waltzed up
the corridor into the on-air studio
and I said to the announcer,
"Please play this song."
He said, "Who is it?"
I said, "It's John Farnham."
And he said, "Oh, what?"
And I said, "Play it."
You're the voice
Try and understand it
Make a noise and make it clear
[Cherie] I said, "Where's John?"
"He's in the boardroom.
Probably curled up in a foetal position
under the boardroom table by now."
John came in
and they just hugged each other.
And Glenn looked over at me
and just said, "Thank you."
I said, "You don't have to thank me.
This is brilliant."
It was just one of those magical moments
in your career, where you--
You just don't forget it.
With the power to be powerful
[Tommy] I was driving around in Sydney,
and it just leapt out of the speaker like,
"Holy hell, who's this? Look out."
I went to pick up a songwriting friend,
and he came out
of the house with tears, and I said:
"Bobby, you all right?"
He said, "I heard the singer's new song."
And he cried, you know. He was so--
He knew, as I did,
we knew it was gonna be a hit.
We knew it. This is it.
He's off.
It sounded to me like,
"Oh, my God, he's found his voice.
This is dangerous.
He's gonna be really big."
Of course, as soon as I heard it,
I realised it was a great record
and he sang it fantastically well.
Having the bagpipes in it
was very special.
I was like, "Who the hell is this guy?"
It was so powerful.
His voice was incredible.
It's religious without being religious,
and I like that.
It fills in the gap
where religion should be,
if you don't have religion.
First of all, the song is amazing.
But John's performance,
his vocal on that song, is what makes it.
So emotional. I loved it so much.
John loved the sentiment, he really did.
All I am is a singer and I can make
the comments that I make
and hopefully capture
someone's imagination
and make them think about it.
[Olivia] It's such an incredible song,
and John's interpretation is incredible.
We are the voice,
and sometimes I think we all forget that,
that we do have a say,
if we stand up for what we believe in.
[John] My whole reason for making records,
for doing the interviews,
for being involved in this,
is so I can go out and play music live.
That's it.
[electric guitar playing classical scales]
So we had created this amazing album,
now John wanted to take it on the road.
We talked about it and John decided
we needed some fresh young players
who could play like no one else.
Yeah, if you needed 32 bars
of face-melting guitar,
then you've come to the right place,
that's kind of what I was qualified to do.
Very raw, high energy.
Started bashing out demos
for the fun of it.
Sent out cassettes
to any management companies
or record companies I could find.
[playing jazz melody]
One of the addresses I found
was the Wheatley Organisation.
Brett was living in Central Victoria.
He sent a cassette in the mail.
The Wheatley letterhead.
Isn't that fantastic?
"Dear Brett, just received
your tape and letter. Please phone me."
Brett Garsed, he just got into the band.
That's a good letter right there.
That's the one you want. [chuckles]
From his cassette tape, that was it.
One of the most astounding guitar players
you could imagine
and just the style that John wanted,
sophisticated and dexterous,
but also had heavy power chords.
There's only one step left to overcome
in your quest for success.
["Pressure Down" playing]
[Angus] They'd given me a tape of four
or five songs off the album.
I studied them religiously for a week.
We could have picked
the finest veteran drummers,
but there was something
about Angus's energy.
Just turned 20, I think.
He had this lovely smile,
not only on his face but in his drumming.
But he could also lay into the drums.
Like the drumming version of John.
They rang me that night and said,
"Can you start tomorrow?"
I said, "Yep." [chuckles]
[John] I have two young guys in the band,
Brett Garsed on guitar, who's red-hot,
and our drummer, Angus Burchall.
Wasn't even born when I started,
so there's no preconceptions.
It's great.
I really wanna get out there.
I'm hoping that we can do plenty of dates.
John was ready to go out and sing
his heart out with these fabulous songs.
We couldn't actually get many gigs.
Pressure down
[John] I think what did become
a problem was people
never really saw me as a credible singer.
'Cause I can feel it
It's rising like a storm
Being tagged with soft music,
like "Sadie."
That was 19 years ago
and I don't do that in the set anymore.
Take the pressure down
Booking agents who had politely
given John some gigs just to be nice.
The gigs they booked John...
the shittiest pub gigs.
Take hold of the wheels
And turn them...
I remember him saying, "I don't wanna
go back into the Leagues Club."
"If I have to do that,"
he said, "it's all over."
[Angus] We'd get in the car and drive
to Bendigo and Ballarat and do them,
and then off to Adelaide, all in Taragos.
At least six nights a week.
Things have changed
Since we met you...
[David] The early shows in the pubs
were fun because they were so grungy.
The audience that walked in the door
were such a mixture
and to see them so close...
It's not the same
...and to feel their energy so close
was really exciting.
Don't you know
What it's all about
It affirmed that we've got
something pretty good going on.
Going, going, gone
Don't wait too long
[John] You end up being like a coal miner
in this business,
particularly at the stage that I'm at,
with this record starting to break
in different places,
you just have to follow the grain.
Don't wait too long
At every stage, we got better,
and he had the ideas about
how he wanted it to go
once it started moving.
He knew what he wanted.
How they run your world
It was like a domino effect
across the country.
Everyone went,
"Oh, my God, this is amazing."
It was great to see.
I remember my mother yelling out to me:
"Come on, you're on the telly.
You're on the telly."
I came running down
and "You're the Voice" video clip
was on all the morning shows.
And they just kept choosing this clip
with me in my tank top.
Oh, man.
So I thought,
"He's getting it. Getting recognition.
It's finally happening for him.
It's beautiful. It's gonna work."
You're just a name
Just a flag unfurled
[Gaynor] Once the album was heard,
it just resonated.
What they say
Is what you do
[Gaynor] And touring became extensive.
The venues were huge and then
we couldn't get venues big enough.
[Paul] Every show,
they would get in a circle, the band,
backup singers, Farnham, Glenn, Gaynor.
Like a family moment at Christmas
before you hit the stage,
and have a little tipple
as they went out on-stage.
Big family, everyone loved John.
Going, going, gone
[audience cheering]
[pensive music playing]
[Glenn] I remember the day
the album went to number one.
We were driving to a function,
I looked around and I said:
"John, do you realise that we have
the number one album in the country?
Can you believe it?"
He just exploded.
He just-- Tears just came out of him.
I always thought we had something special,
but gee whiz, I mean, to be number one
for 26 weeks, no one anticipated that.
[John] It was the most amazing thing
because we'd had so much resistance.
I wasn't given much credibility
or credence at all as a musician
or particularly a singer.
[Glenn] He gave me a little cassette,
a little handwritten note saying,
"Thank you, mate, for this.
Thank you for giving me the chance.
Love, Johnny."
It's a very treasured memento.
It always has been very significant
for Glenn.
[David] He'd went from being a guy
who was having his--
Was it an early-midlife-crisis
musical moment?
Was he trying to be a rock guy?
Whatever people's perception was,
was blown out of the water
by the public acceptance,
which none of us expected.
[Tommy] A whole generation of people
discovered this new act, this new singer,
these amazing songs, and this amazing guy,
and he'd been right under their noses
the whole time.
I think the bigger the crowd,
the happier he got.
Singer John Farnham's record-breaking tour
of Australia moves to Sydney tonight
with five concerts scheduled
for the Entertainment Centre.
John Farnham's Whispering Jack Tour
is the biggest ever
by an Australian artist.
Told we're working to about
a quarter of a million people.
And I've got all their names,
and I'm gonna write and thank them.
Number one in West Germany,
number one in Sweden,
roaring up the French and Italian charts,
in England he broke into the charts
at number 66 in the top 100,
and they're really keen for him
in America,
so congratulations, John,
give him a wish, yeah.
Number one in Sweden
and Norway and Denmark.
He was the King of Pop in Sweden.
[band playing "You're the Voice"]
And to see those German fans,
that was pretty special.
The Berlin Wall was still up.
The people, they'd had enough.
That's why "You're the Voice"
was a success there,
was because they were ready for change.
Ready for people's change.
We have the chance
To turn the pages over
We can write what we want to write
We gotta make ends meet
Before we get much older
[Angus] And it was over 100,000 people.
By the time we hit the stage,
they were going nuts.
We're all someone's daughter
We're all someone's son
How long can we look at each other
Down the barrel of a gun?
Sing it!
You're the voice
Try and understand it
Make a noise and make it clear
Whoa, whoa
We're not gonna sit in silence
We're not gonna live with fear
Whoa, whoa
[Angus] We didn't have bagpipe players,
so one of our roadies who,
at least he was Scottish,
he held the bagpipes
and walked out there,
and he nearly collapsed.
I could see the back of him,
and as he turned around,
he was white, he was ashen.
We're all someone's daughter
We're all someone's son
How long can we look at each other
Down the barrel of a gun?
You're the voice
Try and understand it
Make a noise and make it clear
Whoa, whoa
We're not gonna sit in silence
We're not gonna live with fear
Whoa, whoa
You're the voice
Try and understand it
Make a noise and make it...
It's all right. Take your time.
I got all night.
[audience] Whoa
John loves his fans, but to actually
have acceptance from his peers
meant the world to him.
[Elton] The winner is--
Darling, I hope you're gonna buy
a bigger house.
John Farnham, "You're the Voice."
[audience cheering]
Most of all,
would like to thank my manager
and very close friend, Glenn Wheatley.
He put his money where my mouth is,
and I thank him for that.
Thanks, Glenn. Thank you very much.
We won seven ARIA awards that night.
Whispering Jack became
the highest-selling album of the year.
It remains the highest-selling album
by a local artist in Australia.
[playing "You're the Voice"]
We're not gonna live with fear
Whoa, whoa
-[song ends]
-[audience cheering and applauding]
[John speaks in German]
[in English] Good night,
and thank you very much. Goodbye.
[Elton] It's really nice to see someone
like John come back after 20 years
and make better records than he ever has.
I think it's tremendous.
An inspiration to everybody.
[guests cheering]
["As the Days Go By" playing]
[Daryl] Hearing "You're the Voice"
was so motivational.
I just thought, "God."
I was working on the roads with council,
trying to get together songs
to do an album.
My love of life just gets stronger
As the days go by
Not even his success,
but just him doing something that was...
so, so good.
That you just--
You couldn't help
but listen to it and to him...
and feel affected by it, which I was.
Some things don't look to me
Like they used to be, no
That sort of pushed my career along.
I get a little closer
I pulled my finger out.
John came in and he sang on "As The Days,"
and he sang on four or five other tracks.
As the days go by
I get a little closer to
You need that motivation,
and he was most definitely
the big part of completing that album.
As the days go by...
You know, thank you, John.
I'm coming back to you
[John] I still had a real problem with
what I thought was my lack of credibility.
"Sadie" came out and just took off,
and I left my plumbing job
two days before it was released,
and it was a hit.
From the day that we were born
We've been heading down the tracks
I felt that I never had to work for it,
and it was given to me for nothing.
Sometimes it's made for good
I feel a lot better about it now
because I've worked my ass off.
And if we look behind us
There's a wind coming down
Carrying us forward to a new age
What about the world?
What about the world around us?
What about the world?
[Gaynor] After scrounging around for songs
from unknown writers,
after Whispering Jack, we were inundated.
And now that our fathers...
[Gaynor] Everyone was offering us
their latest and their best.
Unless it resonated with John,
he wouldn't sing it.
What about the age of reason
David Hirschfelder on the keys,
folks, please.
[John] The luck I have is now,
I have a working unit,
who are all great players
and want the best for the project.
[Cherie] John's follow-up album,
the Age of Reason,
was a brilliant record
and debuted at number one in Australia.
[Ross] Well, I think it just affirmed
this is not a one-hit wonder,
that he's made a second album
and it's just as good.
[audience cheering and applauding]
[Angus] I remember he told me once,
in his early days,
whoever was the producer would pick
the songs, pick the keys,
record them, and then he'd come in
and do the vocals.
So it's totally, totally different.
By the third album,
we were writing the songs ourselves.
I got myself into some trouble tonight
Guess I'm just feeling blue
It's been so...
[Tommy] When I first heard "Burn for You,"
I thought,
"Oh, my God, he's outdone himself.
He keeps upping the ante," you know?
But I burn...
"Burn for You," what a cracker of a song.
I know all the backstories
to a lot of these songs. Um...
Yeah, I think he did get himself
into some trouble one night.
Not bad trouble but, yes,
I know "Burn for You" was definitely
one of those "dig your way out of a hole."
I guess it feels
Like you're always alone
[Tommy] I remember when I had to tell him
that I had addiction problems.
He was shocked and he was hurt
because I hadn't told him before.
But he was still kind
and loving towards me,
and said,
"Come on, do something about it."
You know. And I did.
I burn for you
What am I gonna do
I burn...
[Gaynor] There's a point
where he felt confident enough
to share his voice in the written form
and he wanted to sing his songs.
He's written some fine songs.
[Olivia] Think that was
an important transition for an artist,
to be able to express
their feelings on their own
and not relying on other people
to write their music.
Burn for
[audience applauding]
[David] He'd get asked
to sing "Sadie" occasionally,
-and he refused for years and years.
-[John] No!
[David] And so, eventually,
not only did he sing it live...
Oh, all right, then.
...I did an arrangement
for a 96-piece orchestra to accompany it.
"Here's fucking Sadie,
right in your face."
Oh, Sadie, the cleaning lady
And we're all playing ukuleles.
With the trusty scrubbing brush
And pail
I can't believe I'm doing this.
Works her fingers to the bone
For the life she had at home
[David] He sang it confidently
and with warmth and spirit and good heart.
Come on!
Oh, Sadie...
[David] At that moment, I observed
a John Farnham that said:
"I don't care what people think anymore."
[John] I never set out to portray
any kind of image, that's just me.
Other people put names and tags on it.
It doesn't worry me one way or the other.
[Gaynor] It was a fantastic time
for both Glenn and John.
Seeing John shine on every level.
[Richard] The story of Glenn's belief
in John is pretty legendary.
It's unlike almost anything
I've ever heard of before.
I mean, if you really wanna find good,
quality, loyal, compassionate people,
the entertainment business
is probably not the first industry
you wanna look for that.
Which is why they-- The ones
who are really good people stand out.
They're kind of joined at the hip
in a lot of ways.
There's not many gigs I can't remember
not seeing Glenn
on the side of stage, you know?
[John] We're like brothers.
We're really that close.
[Glenn] He's godfather of one
of my children, best man at my wedding.
[John] We've never had a contract.
That's not something
that we've ever deemed necessary.
Glenn was there for John,
but John's been there for Glenn
on more than one occasion.
He's been there with us
for many ups and downs.
[Glenn] I was managing John Farnham,
I got myself into sport management.
My company, Wheatley Organisation,
ended up floating on the stock exchange.
I'd love you to do me a favour
and be a chalkie, up on the board.
You know what those guys are?
[John] I can use chalk,
but I don't know what I have to write.
-[Glenn] Ever been to the stock exchange?
-[John] No, I haven't.
-They're worse than rock concerts.
-[John] Yeah?
-[John] Okay.
[Glenn] I was very much at the beginning
of the launch of FM radio in Australia.
Hubris got in the way with me.
I felt I was, you know, undefeatable.
[ominous music playing]
[Brett] Glenn got mixed up in a tax scam.
Lots of big names were involved,
many for much bigger sums of money.
[reporter] Wheatley was the first person
to be convicted
under the government's Operation Wickenby.
[Brett] The Australian Tax Department
wanted to make an example out of him,
and they certainly did.
[reporter] He was sentenced
to a minimum of 15 months jail
for a $320,000 tax fraud.
[Brett] Glenn ended up serving 15 months.
Ten months in prison,
then five months home detention.
He did the time and paid it all back.
He's gonna get back to work
and, um, he's gonna spend
a lot of time redeeming himself,
in everybody's eyes.
I'm gonna help him
as much as I can to do that.
A lot of our friends didn't know
what to do when Glenn went to prison.
It was a very hard social situation,
but John always seemed to know what to do.
A lot of people would have
walked away. Right?
In this industry, right?
It would have been
a great excuse to walk away.
Not Farnham.
Capital L for loyalty.
Of course I felt for him. It was hard,
and I wasn't gonna desert him
under those circumstances,
and he wouldn't have deserted me
under the same circumstances.
I love the man. He's my friend.
He's part of my family.
[Glenn] All he said was,
"I'm just returning the favour.
You saved my ass.
Coughed up cash when I needed it.
You gave me the album.
Mate, I'm just repaying the favour,
that's all."
[John] Something that I believe in
very, very strongly is,
what you give is what you get.
When the war is over
Got to get away
[audience cheering and applauding]
[Brett] After Glenn got out of prison,
it all kicked off again,
and we did amazing shows.
You and I
We used each other's shoulder
Still so young
But somehow so much older
How can I go home
And not get blown away
Ain't nobody
Gonna steal this heart away
First and foremost, I'm a fan,
and I remember I was a bit sort of--
"Hey, John, would you sing with me?"
And he said, "Yeah, no worries, mate.
You're a bloody beauty."
[John] I've been lucky, I've worked with
a lot of fantastically talented people
over the years.
When the war is over
Got to start again
[Angus] All those years,
years and years of working, doing gigs.
Little crappy ones.
Great big-- Great ones,
you know, all in between.
You and I
We sent each other stories
Just a page
I'm lost in all its glories
How can I go home
And not get blown away
[Angus] He's got the spirit.
He won't surrender.
The audience has to have
the time of their life.
Otherwise, you know,
he'll just keep going.
And not get blown away
Ain't nobody gonna steal...
[John] I can't explain
how much I love it, you know?
I can't explain
how much pleasure I get out of it,
particularly when it engages people.
[Gaynor] To this day,
I think he fears nobody will come.
That comes from a time when there was
only a handful of family and friends
during the '70s.
And that is the one promise
Glenn has always made to him.
"Mate, if it's not full,
you're not going on."
Glenn has been very passionate about
making sure every show is a sell-out.
[Angus] The last lot of gigs we did
before the pandemic,
a lot of them were outdoor shows.
The young kids, he absolutely killed it.
They just loved him.
They're going nuts,
and he sang beautifully.
[John] Brett Garsed on the guitar.
[audience cheering and applauding]
[playing "When Something is Wrong
with My Baby"]
When something is wrong
With my baby
[Gaynor] Olivia adored John,
and John adored Olivia too.
It was really lovely
to watch them together.
They were so daggy
and so fun and so utterly adorable.
We've been through so much together
[Olivia] He's my favourite singer,
and I've worked with a lot of singers
and listened to thousands, probably.
We spoke as one
[Olivia] He is The Voice, right?
That's what makes it better
[Paul] That was the last time
they performed together.
I'm getting quite emotional
thinking about it, you know?
Good evening. Generations of Australians
grew up loving her music
as she rose to Hollywood stardom.
Tonight, they're united
with celebrities around the world
in tribute to Olivia Newton-John.
Australia's darling of the '70s and '80s
is being remembered
for her talent
and equally her charity work
and brave fight against cancer.
Jill said he just cried uncontrollably,
which I completely understand.
I think that really,
really kicked Dad in the guts.
He loved and respected her.
[Gaynor] We all knew it was coming.
I reached out to her 'cause I thought,
you know, she's a tonic...
and she was a tonic.
She knew all the right things to say
and was, you know, very comforting.
And, um, a week later she was gone.
I'll treasure that.
Yeah, she's a warm,
wonderful, beautiful lady.
[poignant music playing]
I remember when Glenn was
in the ICU with COVID,
one of the nurses came in and said,
"When we get these people home,
how are they going
to actually live with COVID
and the destruction to their bodies?"
And I remember thinking,
"Why is she telling me this?" You know.
"I'm just gonna take Glenn home.
It's Glenn, he's indestructible
and he just keeps going."
But I think she was telling me
to prepare me.
It was definitely for a reason.
I just didn't hear it.
The Australian music industry is
paying tribute to Glenn Wheatley.
The celebrated promoter
and manager died yesterday
from complications caused by COVID.
He was 74.
[reporter] The death of Glenn Wheatley
has broken the man known as The Voice.
Last night, John Farnham had
the dreaded task of informing friends
their mate had died.
He didn't really cope for a while,
which is understandable.
The loss of your best friend
and someone that's been there
his whole life, basically.
[John] Uh, I'm still feeling the grief.
Um, we were very, very close.
Very, very close indeed.
And I didn't want that to happen.
[Olivia] Glenn was so responsible
for John, took care of him so well.
Oh, boy, like brothers, you know?
I don't think Dad'll ever heal properly,
which is sad,
but that's what love is, really.
I was on the phone to John to say that
Glenn wasn't gonna be with us much longer,
so I had the phone up to Glenn's ear,
and one of the last voices he heard
was John's.
And I'm very...
I'm glad about that.
[Glenn] I've gotta be able to say to him,
"You're a legend.
You don't like to think of yourself
as a legend, but you are."
[uplifting music playing]
His career's had so many ups and downs,
and he had to fight
through so much to keep going,
and then to have success,
great success again--
Well, that's why
the public love him so much too.
It is a heroic story.
-[crowd cheering]
-[band playing "Touch of Paradise"]
Flamingos walk
And sway in peace
Seeing this
It makes my troubles cease
There's definitely some great artists,
but I think that there's not too many
that's had a career like that.
Leaving a pink scar
[Gaynor] I have been very privileged
in being afforded a front-row seat
to not only watching
Glenn and John perform,
but watching John sing.
And all I do is look into your eyes
[Gaynor] John invited us in, the band in,
crew in, ultimately all his fans in.
And I think everyone in his audience
felt they had a front-row seat.
Just a special touch of paradise
You hold my hand
That's when we kiss
[Olivia] Music is so important to us.
And it doesn't take long, no, no, no
It can go straight to somebody's heart.
You feel their voice.
Of this love that stretches out...
It can heal you, it can help you...
and it can reach so many people.
As we're walking in the sand
[Olivia] I feel very lucky
to have worked with him so much.
And all I do is look into your eyes
The 73-year-old Australian legend
is believed to have only been diagnosed
as recently as two weeks ago.
The family decided to go...
It's kind of a sick joke
that The Voice gets mouth cancer.
It's just brutal.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
himself has been leading
the outpouring of support,
saying the nation's thoughts
are with Farnham and his family.
Lucky for us, John found his voice,
he shared it with us,
and whether he sings or not,
that music will be part of people's lives
for-- I wanna say forever.
When our eyes meet
I don't know what else he'd wanna do.
I think he's done it.
He climbed the mountain, that's for sure,
and his flag's still on the top.
[audience] And I walk off shaking
I don't think he will ever be forgotten,
and I think that there will always be
an audience for John Farnham.
[John] Pretty incredible.
I'm glad to have affected
people's lives with music.
It's nice that you can do
that sort of thing.
It affected me greatly, so I would hope
that it affected other people great too.
And all I do is look into your eyes
For that special touch of paradise
Oh, darling
Just a touch
A touch of paradise
Just a special touch of paradise
Show me, show me
Just a touch
A touch of paradise
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Just a special touch of paradise
Oh, show me
Just a touch
A touch of paradise
Just a touch
A touch of paradise
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Just a special touch of paradise
Show me, show me
Show me, show me
Just a touch
A touch of paradise
-[song ends]
-[audience cheering and applauding]
[John] Oh, you're nice. Thank you.
I like that song, I really do.
[dramatic music playing]
[uplifting music playing]