Michael Gudinski dies: Remembering the godfather of Australian rock n’ roll

Michael Gudinski

• Michael Gudinski has passed away suddenly at the age of 68

The Australian entertainment industry has been rocked by the news that the founder and executive chairman of Mushroom Group, Michael Gudinski, has passed away suddenly at the age of 68.

Gudinski was last seen in public on January 30 at the Sounds Better Together concert in Mallacoota where he introduced Kylie Minogue, and attended the Australian Open in February, reports the Herald Sun’s Cameron Adams.

Also breaking the news this morning was Peter Ford on Seven and David Campbell on Nine. Campbell had spoken briefly to his father Jimmy Barnes who was very close to Gudinski. Campbell was also joined on air by Nine’s Richard Wilkins.

Made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2006, Gudinski is survived by wife Sue and children Matt and Kate and two grandchildren.

His death comes as major shock as Gudinski had enjoyed one of the busiest years of his career, despite his touring business taking a major blow after COVID shut down the live music industry.

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This statement from the Mushroom Group this morning:

The much-loved Australian music legend died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Melbourne.

Michael’s family loved him immensely and Michael in turn adored his wife Sue, son Matt and partner Cara, daughter Kate and husband Andrew and their children Nina-Rose and Lulu. They meant everything to him, and he was immensely proud of them. Michael often referred to his 200+ staff as the Mushroom Family, with many having clocked decades in his employment.

Michael’s legacy will live on through his family and the enormously successful Mushroom Group – an enduring embodiment of decades of passion and determination from an incredible man.

The family respectfully ask for privacy in this incredibly difficult time and thank everyone for their support.

Please note there will be no further comment at this time.

See also: Michael Gudinski in his own words: TV dreams, breaking new talent + independence, Mediaweek’s James Manning speaks with Mushroom Group founder and executive chairman Michael Gudinski.

Matt and Michael Gudinski

Hugh Marks, Nine chief executive officer, said on behalf on Nine:

“We are deeply saddened and shocked to hear of the passing of Michael Gudinski. A titan of the Australian music and entertainment scene, he forged a ground-breaking path and leaves an incredible legacy. So many of us at Nine have worked closely with him over many years, most recently through the pandemic. Joining forces with Michael to produce Music From the Home Front and Sounds Better Together concerts, his love, support and commitment to local musicians was centre stage. We send all our love and condolences to Michael’s wife Sue, children Kate and Matthew and grandchildren.”

The life of Michael Gudinski

Born to Russian immigrants in 1952, the future success of Michael Gudinski could probably have been predicted back in 1959. At the age of seven years Michael showed his entrepreneurial side on Caulfield Cup day when he charged race goers for parking spaces in a vacant block next to his home. From there he never looked back, promoting gigs at Melbourne halls for alternative acts such as Chain and The Aztecs and developing his first taste for what would be a lifelong love affair with the music industry.

In 1972 Michael and business partner Ray Evans staged, managed and booked all the entertainment at the legendary new Sunbury Festival. In the same year Michael simultaneously founded Mushroom Records – which was to eventually develop into the largest independent record label in Australian music – and Mushroom Music, which is today the principal independent publishing company in Australia.

At the same time, Michael developed his interest in the touring industry, promoting his first ever international tour – John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers – with Ray Evans to overwhelming success. Michael made more money out of one night’s show than he had ever dreamed possible – and all at the age of 20.

Michael was also managing a number of up-and-coming bands at this time, including Chain and Skyhooks. Both acts were to produce number one hits, but it was Skyhooks which went on to cement the future success of Mushroom Records. Their debut album, Living In The 70’s, spent 16 weeks at number one in Australia, selling 240,000 copies. No Australian album had sold more at that point in time.

In 1998 Michael sold Mushroom Records to Murdoch’s News Limited Group while retaining the Mushroom Group name. 1993 had seen the Murdoch Group become a shareholder in Mushroom Records and the company continued to move from strength to strength. Considerable successes with Kylie in Australia and the UK had set up Mushroom Records as a notable force in the recording industry, and UK artist signings with Ash and Garbage (four Grammy nominations) and Peter Andre’s #1 success with his Mysterious Girl single and the Natural album in the UK charts cemented the organisation’s expansion into the UK with Infectious Records. The eventual sale in 1998 coincided with the 25th anniversary of Mushroom Records and more than 75,000 people helped celebrate the occasion with a spectacular concert at the MCG in Melbourne, starring more than 60 artists and lasting nine hours.

[Source: Mushroom Group]


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