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The Australian music industry is still coming to terms with the loss of iconic music entrepreneur Michael Gudinski, who died in his sleep last week. A private funeral for Michael is being held today with a state celebration of his life to take place on March 24 at Rod Laver Arena.

Michael will forever be known for his fierce passion and energy for the artists on his roster and for Australian music in general. A search through our archives recently unearthed a letter printed in Juke magazine (an Australian rock weekly magazine 1975-1993) which perfectly sums up the mindset of the man.

In the mid seventies the band Skyhooks (who Michael managed) had enjoyed enormous success with their first two albums Living In The Seventies and Ego is Not a Dirty Word, making them the biggest band in the country at the time. Not content with local triumphs, Michael took the band on tour to America to see if they could replicate their Australian success over there. While in America, Michael penned a letter to Juke magazine in which he not only outlined the band’s hurdles and struggles but also expressed his excitement at the inroads Skyhooks had gained while on tour. The letter also perfectly displays Michael’s amazing work ethic and energy, which was a feature of his character right until the end.

Issue #46 March 27, 1976


By Michael Gudinski

Dear Juke,

We seem to have gotten over our bad luck streak which really didn’t stop after Greg got ill in New Zealand.

I was glad we all continued in the US because the amount of press and radio Red, Shirley and myself were able to cover in LA and New York during the first two weeks was amazing.

The band did some solid rehearsal with a fill-in bass player to enable us to do some shows to coincide with the gigantic Radio and Records convention held here. We got through this quite well, leaving a good impression on a  lot of FM radio people. It was a bit strange because we were playing with Bob Weir’s Kingfish. Weir is from the Grateful Dead and consequently there were lots of ‘Deadheads— San Francisco type freaks— which kept us on our toes. Not exactly what I call our audience.

After Atalanta we did a show in Austin, Texas which was at a ‘Reefer’ type venue called the Armadillo, and even though Shirley had a terribly sore throat and congested chest, which allowed us to only do thirty minutes, it really went down well, and the promoter wants us to come back and headline next time.

From there we went to New Orleans which was in turmoil as the Mardi Gras was on. Wow, what a sight! The only way to describe it is as a huge Moomba that takes over most of the city. The show there was with Quicksilver Messenger Service and Roxy Music. Shirley was no better. In fact, after the gig (which drew quite a response) we made the decision to cancel Houston and Dallas, which were set for the following nights.

On arrival at a hospital, we’d determined that Shirley had bronchitis and needed as much rest as possible. meanwhile I flew to LA to meet Greg and Jenny (Greg’s lady). What a relief it was to see Greg back and well! We flew to Fayettville, North Carolina, where the first of five consecutive shows with Joe Cocker and Styx was due to be held. Boy, did the group fire with Greg back!

After the second night in Charleston, the promoter said to me he’d like to do 20 to 30 shows with us in his areas next tour, which was a real knockout as he is one of the most important promoters in the US today—Cecil Corbett of Beach Club Promotions. The band was allowed to do 35 minutes which enabled us to put together a power packed bracket. The bracket they’ve been doing runs like this: Revolution, Ego, Hey What’s The Matter, (or Love on the Radio), Horror Movie, a short drum solo, All My Friends, Smart Arse Songwriters and You Just Like Me Cos I’m Good In Bed.

Other bad luck we had was our first night in Atlanta, the motel rooms were robbed (as reported in Juke recently) and nearly everybody including the road crew came down with the flu. Anyway, hopefully that’s all in the past.

The band are touring in a bus decked out with 12 beds and a colour TV, FM radio and a cassette unit, which makes the miles go a lot more pleasantly. The bus also has enough room to carry the equipment, which makes it very practical. It comes with a driver who is excellent. He is also huge which is good security to have around at all times.

The guys have been photo mad, taking shots of everything and anything. When we develop something I’ll send you some. The album is still getting a lot of airplay on FM and is selling reasonably well in certain markets. In Canada it has made the top 100 chart, which was a pleasant surprise.

In two weeks we start the Uriah Heep tour which will go through till the end of April. We will be breaking the tour for one day to headline our own show in Jacksonville. We are all really looking forward to that gig.

While In Europe this week I will be finalising all our tour plans for that part of the world. In the meantime regards from all the boys. Don’t forget the old Mushroom.


Michael G.

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