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A Tribute to Paul Woseen...

Not every great rock star is the lead singer of a band or a household name.


Paul Woseen was a great rock star.


A couple of weeks before Paully’s passing, I asked Dave Gleeson if he could describe his bandmate. Without hesitation, Dave said simply: 


“He is the ultimate road warrior. He lives, breathes and shits music. He’s the embodiment of what an Australian rocker is.”


Paul Woseen was born in 1967 – the Summer of Love.


Believe it or not, young Paully was a choirboy. And not just any choirboy – he was the head chorister at Christ Church Cathedral in Newcastle.


But then at Newcastle High, he discovered rock ’n’ roll.


Before The Screaming Jets took off, Paully was in a band called The Embers. He was initially the guitarist and his schoolmate Nick Raschke was the bass player. 


Their first gig was at the Mary Ellen Hotel. They knew a dozen songs – a selection of Easybeats, Beatles, Stones and Sunnyboys. The crowd wanted more, so they did the set three times.


The woman who ran the pub offered them a residency. Paully had taken the first steps on his long way to the top.


He was a choirboy no longer.


The Embers ended up doing about 800 gigs over the next few years. It was the best training ground any Australian musician could have – playing the Newcastle pubs.

“He is the ultimate road warrior. He lives, breathes and shits music. He’s the embodiment of what an Australian rocker is” - Dave Gleeson


Dave Gleeson has vivid memories of seeing The Embers upstairs at the Great Northern Hotel in Newcastle. They were explosive and exciting, so Dave was rapt when Paully agreed to join his band.


That band became The Screaming Jets in 1989. Soon after, they won Triple J’s Battle of the Bands at Selina’s in Coogee and their debut EP arrived the following year. It was aptly titled: The Scorching Adventures of The Screaming Jets.


Nick Raschke says The Embers ended because Paully “saw the world”, while Nick just wanted to play pubs in Newcastle. Paully’s song Shine On is a classic Newcastle anthem. The song starts:


“Cold steel rails in front of me/ My steel city left behind.”


Paully’s dreams came true – his songs took him around the world and he got to play music with his mates.


In his last interview, Paully was asked to sum up The Screaming Jets. He replied:


“We’re a gang. We’re not just a band of players. We’re a gang of mates.”

Paully loved his band. It was his everything: Dave, Jimi Hocking, Scotty Kingman, Cam McGlinchey and Paully. A gang of mates.


Paully called his bandmates “skin brothers” or “brothers from another mother”.


Cam was surprised by the depth of the relationships when he joined The Screaming Jets. “But they really welcomed me, and Paully was an integral part of that. In the studio, I was like, ‘What do you want on this, Paully?’ And he would say, ‘Whatever you do, mate.’


“He was just so supportive and generous in spirit, which has made the music all the more meaningful.”


Dave Gleeson was in awe of his friend. He called Paully “the throbbing heart of The Screaming Jets from day one”.


For a long time in the band, Dave and Paully shared a room when they were on tour. Now, you can let your imagination run wild and wonder what went on in that room during countless nights on the road. But what does Dave remember most?


Paully being up all night writing songs.


No matter how crazy life on the road got, Paully remained committed to his craft. He was relentlessly writing songs, knowing that great art did not happen by accident – it took a lot of blood, sweat and tears.


As Scotty Kingman notes, “his whole heart and soul was in every song he wrote”.


Paully was responsible for some of the Screaming Jets’ finest work, including Helping Hand, Shine On, Friend of Mine, Think, F.R.C, Needle and October Grey.

“His whole heart and soul was in every song he wrote” - Scott Kingman



He had a knack for coming up with fantastic, melodic choruses. Helping Hand was one of the Jets’ biggest hits and was nominated for Song of the Year at the APRA Awards.


“He told us he didn’t want his musical exploits to be considered extraordinary, but nevertheless, extraordinary they were,” Jimi Hocking says. “Paul was a passionate musician and a tenacious songwriter.”


Paully had so many songs in him, he released a solo album in 2013 called Bombido. It showed what a great singer he was.


He also had a ball playing with Row Jerry Crow, Rose Tattoo and Saint Lucifer. But The Screaming Jets were his first love. Paully laughed when I asked if the band had changed in the three decades since Better burst into the Top 5 in 1991. “We’re just older, otherwise we’re exactly the same,” he said. “And that’s why I’m proud of this band, we stayed true to who we are.


“You’ve got to be you. If you’re not you, it just goes through.”


The Screaming Jets might have had 10 Top 40 albums, including five Top 5 entries, but they never forgot their roots.


Calling on ARIA to induct the band into the Hall of Fame, the publisher of The, Stephen Green, wrote in 2023: “The Screaming Jets were arguably one of the last big ‘working class’ bands. They weren’t better than you. They WERE one of you.”


As Green noted, “There would hardly be a suburban ’90s gig-goer who didn’t find themselves rocking out to a Screaming Jets gig at some point. But the real impact was in watching the band reflect the society around them. In the ’80s a bogan rock band was all about the chicks, the booze and the drugs. I’m sure the Jets had their share of that too, but musically, the band started approaching topics like mental health that reflected and, in some ways, started conversations for men who until the ’90s had been taught not to talk about it.”


Paully loved nothing more than looking out into the crowd and seeing people singing the words he wrote, knowing that he had forged a genuine connection.


Paul Woseen was a star because his music – and his life – touched people.


After Paully’s passing, Cam said: “We have been blown away by just how far his reach was and by how people so far and wide were impacted by him in a genuine way, which speaks volumes about the genuine person he really was. He was a beautiful, beautiful man who wanted nothing but the best from everybody.”


When I last spoke to Paully, I mentioned that I looked upon The Screaming Jets as The Last Great Pub Rock Band. He thought for a moment, before replying: “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen us as a pub rock band, but the ethos of the Australian pub rock band is definitely in us. You can’t put on a shit show in an Aussie pub – if you put on a shit show in an Aussie pub, people will tell you you’re shit.”


Paully’s 10th and final studio album with The Screaming Jets was called Professional Misconduct. He was particularly proud of the album’s second single, the big ballad Second Chance, which he wrote with Dave.


The lyric runs: “What if the sky begins to fall and the treadmill stops and stalls? What if the sun lost its shine? We’re running, running out of time … You thought about a second chance, you never get ’em anyway.”


Paul Woseen never worried about second chances. He made the most of the first.


When The Screaming Jets did their Dirty Thirty tour, Paully was asked if he could sum up his career. He replied: 


“A whole bucket of rockin’ fun … it’s better than diggin’ holes, mate. I wouldn’t wanna be doing anything else.”


Paully died with his boots on. Indeed, he was farewelled with his favourite white boots. “We’re all going to miss him on so many levels,” Cam says. “I’ll even miss the white boots. They made me laugh. Only Paully could pull off white boots and look so cool.”


The Screaming Jets performed one of Paully’s songs, Friend Of Mine, at his memorial. “Don’t just sit around all day and cry,” Dave sang. “Don’t worry, you will always be a friend of mine.”


The final song on Professional Misconduct is called Speed Quack. That was Paully’s title. He explained that he loved ducks, highlighting the fact they’re calm on the surface but paddling like hell underneath to stay afloat. “I like to think of myself as an old pirate duck,” Paully said.


Speed Quack includes the line: “Make a stand, never falter.”


And that’s exactly what Paul Woseen did during his entire career.


It was an honour to follow Paully’s journey over the years. He was, as Dave observed, the embodiment of what an Australian rocker is. And it’s great to know that with the Paul Woseen Memorial Music Grant he will be inspiring new artists for generations to come.


As Scotty Kingman – who shared a room on the road with Paully for 17 years – remarked, “He was a truly honourable and impressively gifted rascal.”


In his last interview, where he called The Screaming Jets a “gang of mates”, Paully said: “That’s what keeps us together. You don’t leave a gang.”


Paully will forever be a member of the Jets gang. And a revered member of the Australian music community.

In his last interview, where he called The Screaming Jets a “gang of mates”, Paully said: “That’s what keeps us together. You don’t leave a gang.”


Eternally youthful. Forever the cheeky schoolboy. Mischievous and defiant. A big ball of energy. King of the bass. A mate. A brother. A pirate duck. And a great rock star.


All for one.


Shine On, Paul Woseen. 



By Jeff Jenkins, Australian music journalist.

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