The Go-Betweens have broken up in the wake of Saturay’s death of bassist and co-writer Grant McLennan. His long time writing partner, singer Robert Forster, who co-founded the band with McLennan 30 years ago at the University of Queensland, said, “The Go-Betweens have made their final album. They have played their final show. We let it rest at that, being very proud of what we have done.”
McLennan died in his sleep at his home in Brisbane’s Highgate Hill from an apparent heart attack. He was 48. He had complained of being unwell while preparing for a housewarming party last Saturday.
John O’Donnell, managing director of EMI Music Australia, which released the band’s 2005 album “Oceans Apart” called him “one of the greatest songwriters Australia has produced.”
His death came during a productive time for the band. According to Forster, the success of “Oceans Apart” (it won an Australian Recording Industry Association award for best adult contemporary release last year) inspired him to write some of his best songs. The band intended to record later this year.
The Go-Betweens ability to describe the Australian experience won the band enduring fans, according to Amanda Brown, who played violin and clarinet with the act in the mid-1980s.
“Grant’s songs captured an Australia that was influenced by his love for contemporary American writers like Cormac McCarthy, Richard Ford and Raymond Carver, and songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith,” she said. “These writers inform his images of Australia, which range from the landscapes tinged with nostalgia and loss, suburban life, epic narratives and, of course, exquisite love songs.”
One of McLennan’s best-known songs, “Cattle and Cane”, was about growing up on a farm in north Queensland. It was voted among the top 10 best Australian songs of all time by a poll of songwriters and publishers as part of the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA)’s 75th birthday celebration.