It’s with a heavy heart that we learned today of the passing of Australian music media icon Ed Nimmervoll at the age of 67, due to a brain tumour he’d been battling for some time. Ed’s influence on the development of the Australian music industry is immeasurable.
Nimmervoll was a pioneering music journalist and editor of Go-Set magazine, creator of Juke magazine, author, historian, and music lecturer. A little known fact is that he was also an occasional co-songwriter. He recently added to his co-songwriter credits with the track ‘Eureka’ off Russell Morris’s Van Diemen’s Land album.
Ed’s career as a music journalist began at Go-Set, a trailblazing Australian music magazine started by three uni students, Phillip Frazer, Peter Raphael and Tony Schauble in 1966. Eventually Ed took over as editor of the magazine. Go-Set was also where Molly Meldrum got his first break. Significantly, it was at Go-Set where Ed began compiling Australia’s first ever real record chart. When Go-Set finished up in 1974, Ed was offered a position at the Melbourne Observer after they were impressed by a cover story he’d delivered to them, but life at a mainstream newspaper just wasn’t him. “I could have at that point become a professional, regular journalist but I didn’t like what it represented or what I was being asked to do,” he told me last year. Instead, Nimmervoll and his friend Euan Thorburn set about creating a music magazine of their own … Juke.
The first issue of Juke went to print in May, 1975. “We were these rock ‘n’ roll freaks in the corner of The Age, next to the Caravan Weekly sales team and a horse racing magazine,” Ed told me when recalling those early days. Ed only stuck around at Juke for a year or so before handing it on to others to continue the good fight. Juke magazine, along with Sydney’s RAM magazine and the TV hit Countdown were as important in the 70s and 80s as the artists of the day in helping to establish a music industry of our of own. “An important era in Australian music, a foundation, a platform that we still go back to,” Ed suggested.
Juke ran for more than 17 years. It was a magazine which launched a career in music for writers, authors, and entrepreneurs such as Christie Eliezer, Graham Simpson, Rob Furst, Ian MacFarlane, Murray Engelheart, Dino Scatena, Byron Smith, Andrew Mast, Michael Dwyer, Sean Sennett, and Michael Smith to name a few. Then there were the photographers: Tony Mott, Bob King, Greg Noakes, Marty Williams, Serge Thomann, Matthew Deller, Jim Lee, among many others. It’s also where I got my start in music media. Myself and all of the above owe a great debt of gratitude to Ed Nimmervoll.
Ed’s freelance career post-Juke included the creation of Take 40 Australia (Australia’s American Top 40) and a long stint with radio and television syndicators MCM, researching and writing shows and specials, and conducting interviews with major local and international artists.
Ed’s huge contribution to Australian music is to be recognised on November 19 when he is inducted into the Age Music Victoria Awards Hall of Fame. It was earlier hoped that Ed would have been able to accept the award personally, however organisers were made aware over the last week that Ed’s condition had deteriorated.
Lenny Kaye, rock ‘n’ roll scribe and long time Patti Smith guitarist told me once that there was a quote both he and Patti were fond of. He wasn’t exactly sure who the quote belonged to but it went something like … ‘He who documents history, history will come to them.” I think of Ed Nimmervoll when I think of that quote. Ed was obsessed with not only documenting the history of Australian rock music but perpetuating that work and seeking out others to join him in his mission.
Ed Nimmervoll paved the way for me and so many others to work in an industry that we love. He will not only be remembered for being a passionate music fan and for his pioneering work in music media but also for being a kind and caring human being. Vale Ed Nimmervoll.