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Report by Australian Musician Editor Greg Phillips

The Australian music industry is in a state of shock this morning after hearing of the passing of 68 year old music mogul Michael Gudinski. The Australian music legend died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Melbourne last night. There was nobody more passionate, influential or powerful than Michael. For more than five decades he propelled the local music industry along with his successful recording and touring ventures.

The Mushroom/Frontier Touring organisation confirmed his death in a statement this morning.

“It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Michael Gudinski AM overnight.  The much-loved Australian music legend died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Melbourne, Australia.

Michael Gudinski was a key figure in shaping the Australian music industry.  He founded the Mushroom Group in 1972 at just 20 years old, which flourished into Australia’s largest independent entertainment group covering touring, record labels, publishing, merchandising, booking agencies, film and television production and creative services.  Some of Australia’s most iconic albums have been released under one of his Mushroom Group record labels.  His touring company Frontier Touring is Australia’s leading promoter, touring the biggest names in global music since its inception in 1979.

A larger-than-life figure, Michael was widely respected for his unwavering passion for all music – in particular Australian music.   Most recently, with the music industry severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Michael conceptualised and developed Music From The Home Front, The Sound and The State Of Music, platforms designed to showcase and support contemporary Australian music in an incredibly difficult time.  It speaks to the man he was that of his countless illustrious career achievements these projects, that supported the industry he loved, were ones he was particularly proud of.

Michael was renowned for his loyalty and dedication.  His ability to achieve the unachievable against unsurmountable odds was proven time and again and spoke to his absolute passion for his career and life.  

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.”

In 2007 Australian Musician presented a special feature, The 50 Most Significant Moments in Australian Pop Rock History, a poll which recognised Gudinski for several momentous achievements, one being the development of Mushroom Records.

“It wasn’t Australia’s first record label, many others had preceded Mushroom including Fable, Sparmac, and Festival (which eventually partnered with Mushroom). But the label created in 1972 by the ebullient Michael Gudinski was the one that defined an era, and after a shaky start, struck gold with Skyhooks’ ‘Living in The 70s’ and ‘Ego is Not A Dirty Word’ albums. It was Gudinski’s intention right from the start to create local records on an equal par with the internationals in regard to first class artwork and marketing. The first release by Mushroom was an ambitious one, the triple gate-folded disc ‘The Great Australian Rock Festival-Sunbury ’73’, but with consequent album releases by obscure bands such as MacKenzie’s Theory and Sid Rumpo, the label was struggling. It wasn’t until the success of the two Skyhooks albums, followed by Split Enz’ True Colours that the label was able to show some muscle and launch the careers of local legends such as Joe Camilleri, Kylie Minogue, The Models, Jimmy Barnes solo and Paul Kelly to name a few.”

On a local level Gudinski’s contribution to our music industry was massive but as head of Frontier Touring he also toured some of the biggest acts in the world such as The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and Ed Sheeran. As outlined in the Mushroom Group’s statement, recently Gudinski was more prominent than most in his drive to get the Australian music industry back on its feet during the pandemic with projects such as Music From The Home Front, The Sound and The State Of Music. Michael’s personality was as huge as the local music industry he helped to build. Unlike a lot of the record company corporate headquarters, 9 Dundas Lane always had a family feel about it, full of old friends rather than industry acquaintances. That’s the loyal family atmosphere Michael created. Our condolences to Sue, Matt, Kate and family. RIP Michael, maybe you’ll finally get to rest.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced that the Gudinski family has agreed to a state funeral. Details soon.

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