The stars Michael Gudinski made famous
There aren't too many people in the Australian music industry Michael Gudinski hasn't crossed paths with or had some dealings with. Here are some of the key artists in his career.
Their relationship began in 1986/87. Minogue had recorded a version of Locomotion which was being sent around record companies - who all passed on it. The demo was on Gudinski's desk and when he went to London he witnessed the popularity of Neighbours in the UK and realised what he was sitting on. "Kylie wasn't known, Charlene was known," Gudinski told News Corp in 2017. "I actually signed Kylie when I was London, calling back to Melbourne and telling them to get her." We were very much a rock label. A lot of people thought I was steering things in the wrong direction with someone like Kylie Minogue; a few people said it might have been the death of Mushroom. That sounds a bit dramatic. But looking back it really was the birth of a new Mushroom." Minogue would stay with Mushroom Records for her biggest records and recently returned for her last two No. 1 albums. Gudinski has promoted all of Minogue's Australian tours, forming a close personal friendship with the singer who he regularly said was "like family to me."
Tribute: "Legend. Legacy. LOVE. A Titan of the music industry. One of a kind and forever family to me. My heart is broken and I can't believe he's gone. Irreplaceable and unforgettable, I'll always love you 'The Big G'." Kylie Minogue
Gudinski was at Ed Sheeran's first Melbourne showcase, at the intimate Bakehouse Studios in 2011. It was the start of a personal and professional friendship that culminated in Sheeran breaking the record for the most tickets sold in the one Australia/New Zealand tour for his 2018 visit. Gudinski, who referred to Sheeran as "my son", was in constant contact with the superstar, who would share baby news and send new music - he had also stayed at Gudinski's Macedon house during a holiday down under. At one point Sheeran was photographed in a T-shirt calling him the "Gudinski whisperer".
Tribute: Sheeran posted a photo of the pair captioned "I'll miss you mate."
Gudinski never signed Cold Chisel, but when the band split he started both managing Jimmy Barnes and signing him to Mushroom as a solo act. The partnership would lead to classic hits like Working Class Man and the high-selling Soul Deep series. Their friendship was so close when Gudinski was putting together the Music From the Home Front concert last year Barnes was his not-so-silent partner helping curate the bands and making personal calls to lock them in if necessary.
Tribute: "Today the heart of Australian music was ripped out. I felt it, my family felt it, the music business felt it , the world felt it. Michael Gudinski was not only that heart but he was my friend. He stood with me through my darkest moments and my most joyous days. Michael was the rock I reached for when life tried to wash me away. He never closed his door or his heart to me and my family. But I wasn't the only one who felt like Michael was there for me. He was there for everyone that needed him. The music business turned, grew and moved forward in Australia because of Michael. He was a force of nature, a giant of a man."
THE TEMPER TRAP
The Melbourne band were another of Gudinski's passion projects - he knew their song Sweet Disposition was a hit and threw his companies resources behind it. Gudinski's international influence was instrumental in getting the band signed in the US and UK, and he'd fly overseas to see them perform to major crowds, including the Coachella Festival.
Gudinski and Skyhooks' careers took off in tandem in the early to mid 70s. Their debut album Living in the 70s was No. 1 for 16 weeks in Australia, putting Mushroom Records on the map - as well as bankrolling the company. The band's lyrics helped introduce Australian bands referencing Australia in their music.
Stuart Coupe's recent book about Paul Kelly demonstrates how Gudinski, and people close to him, stuck with the Australian singer/songwriter at the start of his career, when his records were struggling to sell and he was going through major personal upheaval. Mushroom's indie label White released Gossip in 1986, which would launch the singer into the mainstream. To demonstrate what a gentleman Gudinski was, when Kelly left Mushroom he exited with the rights to the first two albums he ever released, which he hates. Gudinski he put Paul Kelly's personal wishes before a business decision - those records now sell for hundreds online, after being unavailable to buy for decades.
Tribute: "I am terribly sad. Michael was a friend. A great inspiration and mentor to many. Passionate, enthusiastic, loyal, fierce and, like all true pioneers, a little bit mad. He lived for music and for all the people that worked in it. I didn't think he could ever get more motivated but this past year he took it to a new level in an effort to keep Australian music alive. He lived and breathed for us. My deep condolences go to his wife Sue, his children Matt and Kate and their families."
Another act Gudinski championed, the NZ band had relocated to Australia but were deemed too quirky to break into the pop charts. A patient Gudinski watched them find their feet creatively - it wasn't until their fifth album, 1980s True Colours, they'd score major global success with I Got You.
Tribute: "Very sad to hear of Michael Gudinski's passing. He was a titan of Australian music with an energy and commitment that was exhilarating to watch. So many pivotal and historic moments of Australian music rotated around his passions and strong will to succeed. He was one of a kind, a motivator and a creator." Neil Finn
Finding success as a teenager in I'm Talking, in 1989 Ceberano launched her career as a solo pop singer with the album Brave, released on Mushroom. The album went triple platinum in Australia, with the single Bedroom Eyes and title track becoming major hits. Gudinski supported Ceberano's move into jazz, soul and funk, and scored another big hit with the single Pash on Mushroom.
Tribute: "I've had long conversations with Michael discussing music, career choices, record deals and beyond. He truly cared and was available to discuss anything, anytime. We have lost the talisman, the compass. He was past, present and future all wrapped into one! A one of a kind!"
Gudinski's label signed Indigenous singer/songwriter Archie Roach, who had been championed by Paul Kelly. Roach's debut Charcoal Lane was released to wide acclaim in 1990, and he has remained signed to Gudinski since - with Gudinski pushing for Roach's inclusion in the ARIA Hall of Fame last year.
Tribute: "Michael was a very staunch supporter of the work we do. He championed First Nations musicians like Yothu Yindi, Troy Cassar-Daley and Dan Sultan to name a few, along with myself. We've enjoyed a 30 year partnership. I believe our relationship grew stronger through the years as he shared his own story and heritage as I do." Archie Roach
Gudinski heard Vance Joy's Riptide and threw all his support behind the newcomer, who would go on to sell millions around the world - the song also reached No. 1 on Triple J's Hottest 100.
Tribute: "Michael was one of the people who took a chance on me early in my career. He's always supported my music and allowed me to be the artist I want to be. I am so grateful to have known and worked with Michael. He was passionate and warm and fun to be with and was very generous to my friends and family."
HUNTERS AND COLLECTORS
Signed to Mushroom's indie label White, Hunters and Collectors started as an experimental act with Talking to a Stranger. Gudinski's loyalty saw him stick with the band through ups and downs before their live appeal translated into major record sales and radio play. Gudinski talked the band into reforming for 2009's Sound Relief concert raising money for flood and bushfire relief. Gudinski would hail it as one the proudest moments of his career.
THE TESKEY BROTHERS/DMA'S/THE RUBENS
Gudinski never lost the passion for new Australian music and would regularly praise these three bands and fanboy around their live shows. The Rubens' latest album reached No. 1 two weeks ago.
Tribute: "We are heartbroken by the passing of our good friend Michael, the most passionate champion of Australian music this country has ever seen...Just like many Australian artists, we wouldn't be where we are without the backing of this legend." The Teskey Brothers
One of Gudinski's longest friendships, the pair became close when Countdown exploded in the mid 70s. So pivotal was Gudinski in Meldrum's life he had his own character included in the Molly Channel 7 TV miniseries, reflecting their intense but loving friendship.
Originally published as The stars Michael Gudinski made famous