Little River Band star recalls shock at being replaced by John Farnham

Glenn Shorrock was replaced temporarily by John Farnham. Source: Social Family Records - Supplied (left) and Getty (right).

He enjoyed worldwide success through the late 1970s and early ’80s as the lead singer of Little River Band, but fans were left shocked in 1982 when Glenn Shorrock was suddenly ousted from the band to be replaced by hit singer John Farnham.

The group had become one of the most successful Australian bands in history at the time, having shot to fame in the US and around the world. Shorrock himself wrote the hits ‘Emma’, ‘Help Is on Its Way’ and ‘Cool Change’ — all of which reached huge success.

But in 1982, the singer was sacked and replaced by Farnham in a shock shake-up – bringing his dream to a sudden end. Now the 74-year-old musician has opened up to Starts at 60 on how it really felt to watch his close friend take his place.

“It wasn’t all bells and whistles or whatever. It didn’t go down well with me, I didn’t want to leave really,” he said. “I just wanted to relax. We’d had some tremendous success in America and made money, we’d never seen those figures before. I just thought, ‘Let’s stop and regroup and recharge the batteries’. But no, they didn’t want that, they had John Farnham [by then].

“I just thought, ‘What?’ My commitment to the band full time was wearing a bit thin, and they probably sensed that, but I didn’t expect to be replaced let’s put it that way.

“But s**t happens! Really, the guys that decided that, none of them are working now or playing still. I’m the only one that’s still going … they made a mistake.”

Farnham failed to gel as well with the other bandmates and only ended up staying in the group for the following five years. Despite the difficult circumstances, Shorrock vowed not to ket it ruin their friendship – as Farnham had no part in his sacking at the time.

“I’ve known [John Farnham] since I was 16, we go way, way back. I’ve got a lot of great respect for John,” Shorrock insisted.

Asked if it was hard on their friendship, Shorrock added: “He was embarrassed I think a bit, but it didn’t work out for him at all. He didn’t gel and the chemistry wasn’t the same. He left after a few years and they asked me back in again!”

Shorrock returned to Little River Band in 1988 but, despite releasing several more records, they failed to reach the heights of fame they had enjoyed years before.

Asked if he’s still in touch with his former bandmates, including Beeb Birtles, Graham Goble, Derek Pellicci, Ric Formosa and Roger McLachlan, Shorrock said: “Oh yes, I’m still in touch – some because I have to, but some have become close friends.”

He added: “I’m very happy with my life at the moment.”

Shorrock has continued singing in the years since with different line-ups of musicians, and has now released a new album called Glenn Shorrock Sings Little River Band, recreating some of the group’s biggest hits with new musicians alongside him.

“It’s retaking my legacy and my moral high ground perhaps … I’ve been singing Little River Band all my life, ever since I had the chance to do it,” he explained. “They’re the songs that I recorded back in the ‘70s, that have become so popular around the world. It was nice to refresh them.

“I don’t expect it to rekindle my fame as it were, I’ve already been famous and sold a lot of Australian music around the world being lead singer of LRB.”

Despite his ongoing success, Shorrock admitted he’s begun to suffer from stage fright in more recent years, as well as arthritis. However, he said he refuses to let it stop him enjoying his biggest passion in life for many years to come.

“I suffer a bit from nerves these days,” he admitted. “Once I get out there I’m fine, I’ve been talking to people about it. It’s not just as a performer, it’s in my general mental state, I get anxiety a bit – meeting people or mixing with a crowd of people I don’t know, that sort of stuff.

“Things happen when you get older, all sorts of things go wrong! I’ve also been diagnosed with a bit of arthritis, but that’s about all that’s happened to me. My dad was a Yorkshire man and they make them tough up there!”

Read more: ‘The group collapsed’: Boney M singer reveals real reason ’70s band split up

Asked if  the arthritis has contributed to his anxiety, Shorrock said: “I think one affects the other, I’m sure, but it’s in the family – my mum’s got it and my dad had it a bit.”

Shorrock’s new album Glenn Shorrock Sings Little River Band is out now, featuring ten of his favourite LRB hits. Buy it here.

Are you a fan of Little River Band’s music? Do you remember when Shorrock was replaced by Farnham?

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