Absolute Australian music industry legend Michael Gudinski has died at the young age of 68.
We doubt that anybody would argue that any one person has done more for the promotion of Australian music ever, and the industry is mourning his loss with a great sense of shock.
Gudinski took his first steps towards becoming a music mogul organising dances in his teens, before forming Mushroom Records in 1972. Much like Richard Branson’s Virgin, the label started out with a more hippie kind of vibe, before truly breaking through in 1974 with Melbourne band Skyhooks’s seminal Living in the 70’s album.
Name a top Aussie or even Kiwi act from the last 50 years and there’s a good chance that they got their start on Mushroom or one of its offshoots. Split Enz, Hunters & Collectors, Jimmy Barnes, Frente, Paul Kelly, Yothu Yindi, Archie Roach, Models and, of course, Kylie – and that’s just off the tops of our heads.
Gudinski’s reach went far beyond just releasing music, as he was also instrumental in giving artists places to ply their wares. It started with classic ’70s venue the Bombay Rock, and grew to the point that he was responsible for bringing many international artists to our shores – with lucrative support slots open to give local acts exposure – via Frontier Touring.
More recently, Gudinski has been at the forefront of keeping live music as active as possible during lockdowns and general COVID uncertainty, and he was in the throes of organising a Victorian government music initiative before being taken from us all too early.
You’d need a book to summarise just how much Michael Gudinski has done for Australian music, and luckily there’s a very good one – Gudinski: The Godfather of Australian Rock ‘n’ Roll by Stuart Coupe. It’s a cracking read.
Vale Michael Gudinski, and thank you for bringing us the music.