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Paul Woseen: Destined to be a rock star, says proud brother

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Paul Woseen was always destined to be a rock and roll star, according to his younger brother Michael.

The Australian music industry is still reeling from the news of The Screaming Jets’ co-founder’s sudden passing on Friday 15 September at the age of 56.

Since then, tributes have flowed in for the much-loved musician, who plied his trade in Newcastle before hitting the big time with Dave Gleeson and the boys via such hits at Better, C’Mon, Shivers, Eve of Destruction and Shine On.

One of the band’s most successful tracks, Helping Hand, which Woseen wrote, was also nominated for the 1994 APRA Song of the Year.

“I wasn’t surprised by Paul’s success at all,” Michael said.

“Even though we were estranged for 17 years, I was always proud of what he achieved.

“He became the rock and roll star, travelling around the world, while I stayed here in Newcastle.

“Our mother and grandmother, who raised us, gave both of us every opportunity to be the best we could be… and Paul certainly ran with it.

“Not many people know, we’re [both] adopted, so it’s probably why we’re different.

“However, one thing we had in common was music… he loved the band side of things, while I was more into the technical aspects of it.

“One of the last times we spoke was at SJs (Sydney Junction Hotel in Hamilton), he was playing with Mick King and the Blue Bombers.

“I was about to get married (to my girlfriend at that time) and invited him to the wedding.

“And, he replied: ‘I can’t come’.

“He was never available for anything, he was just too busy being a rock and roll star.

“But, before that, we grew up in New Lambton of all places.”

Paul Woseen

Michael said he had many fond memories with Paul, even when the pair were choir boys.

“I remember we moved into Gosford Road, when mum and dad were together,” he recalled.

“Then we relocated to Lambton Road and our grandmother owned a little corner store in New Lambton.

“So, we kind of grew up in that area, a block away from each other, with our grandparents nearby.

“Our grandfather helped build the New Lambton Bowling Club and was the secretary there for many, many years.

“However, he died in 1972 when we were young.

“Then our parents separated, and got divorced, so we (our grandmother, mum, Paul and I) moved into Brown Street, Newcastle.

“And, because they were religious, both us boys were members of the Cathedral Choir.

Growing up in the city, he was a true Novocastrian – until he left – in every way, shape and form.

Michael Woseen

“You’d have to think that’s where our love of music started.

“In fact, Paul became the head chorister.

“He finished up going to Newcastle Grammar and then to Newcastle High, just focusing on music.

“Paul also got piano lessons from a lady in Hamilton, back in the day, before securing his first job at Palings (record store) in Hunter Street.

“He’d go there on a Thursday night.

“He would have been 15 or 16, but we’d walk up there in the evening and pick him up after he finished.

“Then he’d come home and work on his music.”

Therefore, it was no surprise that his eldest sibling resonated towards a career in the industry.

And, as luck would have it, so did Michael but at the other end of the spectrum.

The Screaming Jets. Photo: Kane Hibberd

“This [music] has always been a part of what we do,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“However, it’s where we’re different, too.

“I’m more into the tech side, I’m a radio producer for 2HD and NEWFM.

“I’ve toured Australia with Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson; recorded with a couple of local bands; run the Gallipoli Legion Club’s function room; and done DJ gigs in all the nightclubs throughout Newcastle.

“I got a bit of a break into the Cardiff Workers Club when they had Chances.

“Someone then introduced me to Victor, the patriarch of the JR (Jolly Roger), and the next thing I knew I’m DJing there and many years at the Casbah Hotel.

“I ended up at a heap of venues around the region.

“And, even though Paul and I went our separate ways, I was proud of what he did with The Screaming Jets.

“Like I said earlier, mum set us up to be the best we could be and do what we love to do.

“I guess that can be a good thing and a bad thing in a lot of ways because you’ve got no boundaries.

“To this day, I’m not really a success, but I enjoy my life.

“I like to give people a great time… I like to see people happy and that kind of makes me happy.

“And, for Paul, music made him happy as well.

“Newcastle was the foundation of rock and roll for him in the early days.

“The Embers were one of the first bands he was in alongside Nick Raschke and Ray Sutherland; they were great guys.

“He also played with the Blue Bombers with Mick King.”

The turning point occurred in 1989 when a young Jets line-up won the Triple J Battle of the Bands at Coogee.

The band relocated to Sydney in 1990 and supported The Angels on a national tour.

I’ll always be proud of his success, however I’ll always be disappointed we never had a relationship in the end.

Michael Woseen

“I remember going to Selina and watching him and the guys win the competition,” said Michael, who’s currently producing the John Laws Show.

“And, that kind of kick-started them into success.

“There were so many people from Newcastle who travelled down and supported them.

“We all caught buses because we thought it was a big thing.

“So, growing up in the city, he was a true Novocastrian – until he left – in every way, shape and form.”

The Screaming Jets recently released a new single, Nothing To Lose, with a forthcoming album Professional Misconduct following in the next six-to-eight weeks.

Another national tour was in the pipeline, too.

Michael admitted the band’s revival hadn’t exactly caught him off-guard.

“It made sense,” he said.

“Obviously, I’m in the industry, so I knew they were going to do something sooner or later.

“Plus, nostalgia is kicking in at the moment and people want some rock.

“With COVID, a lot of acts and musos had that bit of time to sit back and go through things, write songs for example and catch up on stuff they needed to do.

“I think we all did that.

“I was lucky… at the radio station, I still produced the breakfast show during the pandemic.

The Screaming Jets. Photo: Kane Hibberd

“And, that’s what I meant earlier.

“I just choose to do what I want to do in music… just like Paul did.

“I’ll always be proud of his success, however I’ll always be disappointed we never had a relationship in the end.

“But, that’s life.

“I get that is what some people do; Paul liked to keep his private life ‘private’.

“Honestly, I don’t think some of his current family members know I even exist.

“However, what sucks for me is that I don’t have any photos of the two of us together anymore.

“When our parents passed away, they put all the items from the house into auction to sell.

“I ended up finding all the family photos and took them.

“But, when Paul got married, I said to him: ‘Take the pics and show your wife, I’ll get them back later’.

“Unfortunately, that never happened… he had all our childhood photos, our school ones, everything.

“I might have one of him somewhere around.

“It’s funny, I remember he was 16 years old at the time and dressed up… he did theatre and went to Sydney to perform in the Mikado.

“So, he crammed a lot into his [short] life, he did so much and was very creative.

“In the end, Dave (Gleeson) and the boys were more brothers to him than myself.”

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