Tributes have been pouring in for Australian music industry titan, Michael Gudinski who died peacefully in his sleep on Monday (March 1st) at age 68. The unexpected news has sent shockwaves through the Australian music industry.
Jimmy Barnes was among the artists who shared their heartfelt dismay at the immeasurable loss, describing Michael Gudinski as the “heart of the Australian music industry.”
Kylie Minogue described him as “one of a kind and forever family” to her.
Gudinski was a colossal figure of Aussie music, bringing together that bands that would more or less define Australian ‘pub rock’ genre throughout the 70s and 80s. He started in the music business as a dancehall promoter when he was just a teenager, booking bands like The Aztecs and Chain while he was still in school.
In 1972, at only 20-years-old, Gudinski co-founded Mushroom Records – a company that would go on to become Australia’s largest independent entertainment group. In 1974, they struck gold with Skyhooks’ I’m Living in the 70s. By 1975, the album had sold nearly a quarter of a million copies, making it the highest-selling album in the country that year. Mushroom would go on to sign Split Enz, Jimmy Barnes, Hoodoo Gurus, Paul Kelly, the Church, Models, Kylie Minogue and many many more. In time, the sprawling Mushroom Group of companies branched out to cover touring, recording, publishing, merchandising, booking agencies and film and television production.
He also founded Australia's leading promoter, the Frontier Touring Company in 1979, which has brought everyone from Rod Stewart and Frank Sinatra, to Madonna, the Police and Rolling Stones to Aussie shores and massive modern acts like Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift – so, it’s safe to say if you’ve seen an international band in the last 40 years, Gudinski was to thank.
Bruce Springsteen was among the international acts who made it known that Michael Gudinski wasn’t just a titan of Aussie music, he was a titan of the music industry around the world, revered for his boundless passion and dedication to his job. Springsteen said: “I’ve toured the world for the last fifty years and never met a better promoter.”
A statement on the death of our great Australian promoter, Michael Gudinski. pic.twitter.com/4fJdY8n7Eb— Bruce Springsteen (@springsteen) March 2, 2021
And, Foo Fighters declared him a “true f***ing legend.”
Thank You Michael Gudinski for giving us and countless others the best night of our lives. Over and over again. A true fucking legend. We will miss you dearly. Rock & Roll will miss you deeply. pic.twitter.com/uRLCulkk4n— Foo Fighters (@foofighters) March 2, 2021
It’s impossible to overstate Michael Gudinski’s contribution to the Australian arts – he was a label boss, music promoter and publisher, film and television producer and advocate for Australian music, but above all, has been described as a dear friend by all who knew him.
When the pandemic ground the entertainment industry to a halt in March 2020, Gudinski worked harder than ever to keep live music afloat, organizing the massive live-stream event, Music From the Home Front which beamed performances from over 50 Australian and New Zealand artists to homes around the country during the shutdowns, providing invaluable work for musicians and music industry workers alike during the devastating period.
Gudinski won multiple industry awards over his career and honoured with a Member of the Order of Australia medal in 2006 for services to the entertainment industry; and as recently as last week, he was busy promoting the current Midnight Oil tour of Australia and pitching new projects.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has today announced that Victoria will hold a state funeral for the Australian music legend, describing Gudinski as “a wonderful Victorian, a great Australian, a very good friend of mine. And so, to his kids, and everybody who loved him, and by extension everybody who loves the fact that we are the live music capital of our nation, we send our love and support. And we think of him kindly and fondly.”
We send our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues and are forever grateful for the impact he had on the Aussie music industry. The loss is immeasurable; Michael Gudinski was the architect, Godfather and best friend of Australian music, and we were so lucky to have him.