• music

2 March 2021

Creative Victoria pays tribute to a titan of Victorian music.

Molly Meldrum, Kylie Minogue, Michael Gudinski Image: Jim Lee

From a teen promoter of rock concerts and dances around Melbourne, Michael Gudinski started music agency work in the late 1960s. Always the entrepreneur, by 1972 he was working at the first Sunbury Pop Festival and there he had an idea.

By the next Sunbury festival, Michael was not only managing several bands on the bill, he had also struck a deal to record and release a triple live album of the festival on his newly established Mushroom Records label.

Mushroom went on to sign bands and acts including Skyhooks, Split Enz, Kylie Minogue, Paul Kelly, Jimmy Barnes, Archie Roach, Models, Yothu Yindi and The Angels.

In addition to his record label, Michael’s music business interests extended to venues, concert promoting, merchandise, publishing, festivals and recording.

As well as backing Australian acts and artists who won plaudits across the globe, Michael received several awards for his contribution to the music industry and Australian culture. In 1992 he was awarded an ARIA Award for Special Achievement. At the APRA Music Awards of 1998 he won the Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music. In 2006 he was made a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday honours. In 2013 he was acknowledged as the inaugural ARIA Industry Icon. Last year he was named the most influential person in Australian music for the second year running by The Music magazine.

Often referred to as the ‘father of the Australian music industry’, Michael was a passionate Victorian and his contribution extended to many facets of public life - from programming artists for the AFL Grand Final to helping to shape the Victorian Government’s Music Works initiative, including the establishment of the Australian Music Vault at Arts Centre Melbourne for which he was a founding patron.

Michael’s passion and advocacy for the music industry was unshakeable and he was a generous supporter of many community causes – from bushfire relief to mental health support for musicians.

The last year has seen Mushroom-led music initiatives bring Victorians together through difficult times, from the Music from the Homefront national concert to the State of Music and Sounds Better Together online and live music performances in partnership with the Victorian Government.

Michael Gudinski is a key figure in the story of Victorian, and Australian, music. An astute businessman, a passionate campaigner and a champion of new voices on stage and behind the scenes who marched to his own beat. Michael Gudinski has left an indelible legacy on our music scene and our state. We are lucky that he called Victoria home.

Our thoughts are with Michael’s family and many friends at this time