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Tributes Flow for Split Enz and Crowded House promoter

The death of the man behind some of Australasia's most significant music acts has seen an extraordinary outpouring of grief on both sides of the tasman.


The music world is still reeling from the sudden death of Michael Gudinski, one of the most significant figures in Australasian popular music, aged 68.

A larger-than-life figure, Gudinski was widely respected for his unwavering passion for all music. 

The Mushroom Group, which he founded in 1972, aged 20, grew into Australia’s largest independent entertainment group covering touring, record labels, publishing, merchandising, booking agencies, film and television production, and creative services. 

He has worked with many of the biggest artists in the world, including signing both Split Enz and Crowded House to his label (and hence starting an argument over which side of the Tasman has bragging rights).

Neil Finn has been among the many to pay his respects to a man who helped launch his career into the big stage, labelling Gudinski “a giant 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.”

Michael Gudinski (middle) and Neil Finn (second from right) go way back to the Split Enz days.

Aussie rock royalty Jimmy Barnes was also grieving on social media, tweeting “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.”

American icon Bruce Springsteen explained his connection with Gudinski, stating “My friend Michael Gudinski was first, last, and always a music man. I’ve toured the world for the last 50 years and never met a better promoter.

“Michael always spoke with a deep rumbling voice, and the words would spill out so fast that half the time I needed an interpreter.

“But I could hear him clear as a bell when he would say, ‘Bruce, I’ve got you covered’. And he always did.

“He was loud, always in motion, intentionally (and unintentionally) hilarious, and deeply soulful. He will be remembered by artists, including this one, from all over the world every time they step foot on Australian soil.”

Gudinski was described as "half larrikin, half genius".

The Hon. Danny Pearson MP, Victoria's Minister for Creative Industries, told ArtsHub: "Michael Gudinski was spirited. He was passionate and optimistic. He was wickedly funny. He told stories and he dreamed big.

"He looked forward with vision and looked back with just the right note of nostalgia. He loved music and he loved musicians. He loved the crews, producers and promoters who brought gigs to life for audiences across the world.”

Kylie Minogue posted this photo of her and Gudinski, labelling him "irreplaceable and unforgettable."

 Zan Rowe, the ABC's National Music Correspondent, told Artshub: “Michael Gudinski changed the shape of the music industry. His tireless championing of local artists fed a rich and proud culture of Australian music that began with Mushroom’s creation in 1972 and continued almost 50 years later.”

Gudinski played a pivotal role in bringing international acts such as The Police, The Rolling Stones and Elton John to Australia through his touring company Frontier Touring, established in 1979.

He is survived by his wife Sue, and children Kate and Matthew.

This story was written with content used by permission from our friends at ArtsHub Australia.

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

3 Mar 2021

The Big Idea Editor