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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Immediately, there was a crackle

Their friendship began at university in 1975. Grant McLennan was interested in becoming a filmmaker; Robert Forster thought they should start a band. After listening to a tape of songs Robert had written, Grant re-considered: ‘There’s something there for the future.’

Robert Forster has described his initial encounter with fellow arts undergraduate Grant McLennan as ‘like meeting a long-lost friend’. It was mid-70s Brisbane. Queensland’s government was led by ‘a cunning, right-wing, hillbilly dictator’ and Forster remembers himself as a ‘suburban boy’ who feared becoming trapped in banality. Robert was already in a band, but suggested to Grant that they form a new one. He agreed, and the Go-Betweens recorded their first single in 1978. In 1980 Robert’s then partner Lindy Morrison became the band’s first regular drummer, while Grant’s multi-instrumentalist partner Amanda also joined later. The Go-Betweens released six studio albums between 1981 and 1989 when, as Robert phrases it, he and Grant ‘eloped from their own band’ to pursue other projects – a separation that has become memorialised in Australian music folklore. After reforming in 2000, the band was on the verge of the commercial success that had mostly eluded them when Grant died, aged 48, in May 2006.

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The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

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