Gudinski. The Godfather of Australian Rock‘n’Roll

Stuart Coupe
Biography, Books
Sydney: Hachette Australia, 2015. 326 pages
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2015

Stuart Coupe has written an extraordinary book in Gudinski. The Godfather of Australian Rock n Roll. The amount of research to present the Mushroom history within the Australian music industry is a recommendation in itself. Then, because he has hung this around the biography of the compelling Michael Gudinski, his book is a tale of high personal drama and passionate relationships.

Michael Gudinski with the biography he didn't want written

Michael Gudinski with the biography he didn’t want written

This is a story about many of the leading figures who helped deliver Australian music to the public. This is about people who have been players in the industry for their entire working lives, people whom you meet or hear about and some who are still working in the industry.

This history tells of their origins in the business, and how they and the industry grew together. Coupe takes us deep into the meetings where the minutiae of the deals are cast and shows how the factions play their parts. It is a fascinating story and an excellent yarn.

Gudinski, right, with Jimmy Barnes in the '90s

Gudinski, right, with Jimmy Barnes in the ’90s

The book also follows the careers of the Mushroom artists and their managers, people like Cold Chisel, their tour manager Mark Pope and manager Rod Willis, Split Enz and Paul Kelly as they create the soundtracks to our lives through their business contracts with Mushroom records, the publishing arm or the various touring agencies.

To be gathered into the Mushroom stable was to be enveloped in the full deal and with more benefits than would be given these days. Signing to Mushroom meant you performed at the best gigs and played the best support gigs to the international touring acts. You got to hang with Chuggie. Through the publishing arm the writers could get song synchs into films and TV shows, and you met Ian James. The recordings were synched as well, which benefitted the recording artists. Later Mushroom Pictures through Martin Fabinyi provided another opportunity for the music to be exploited.

Gudinski in 2014, when touring the Stones. Photo Alex Coppel

Gudinski in 2014, when touring the Stones. Photo Alex Coppel

And you would get to swing in the orbit of Michael Gudinski, the single minded erratic lover of music and the business. To read Coupe’s book is get an accurate picture of the business man, surrounding himself with a team of clever men and women who supported each other because they loved the music and loved the business. As in any venture people get hurt, rejected, burned. These stories are told and the people who had provided so much loyalty are lost to Gudinski. Still no-one can deny what an enormous amount of energy he gave to the development of Australian music. No-one.

Stuart Coupe

Stuart Coupe

Stuart Coupe has provided us with a deeply irresistible book. A brilliant read, fun, informative and well investigated and documented. For mine I am now off to buy The Promoters, the book Coupe wrote and published in 2003 which I haven’t yet read but is probably a must-read like this one for any lover of Australian music and the biz.

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