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Michael Gudinski's Australian Pop Legacy

3 March 2021 | 12:52 pm | Staff Writer

The Australian music industry and beyond is currently mourning the shock death of the legend and industry icon, Michael Gudinski.

The Australian music industry and beyond was shocked on Tuesday, March 2nd 2021 with the news that Michael Gudinski had passed away. A true titan for and of our culture, he was an innovator, a pioneer, a prolific and successful entrepreneur, loving family man, from all accounts a great boss, and a passionate music fan. Australian music is what it is today because of his decades of work. Tributes from all over the world including the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Ed Sheeran, Kylie Minogue, Zane Lowe and more have poured in, while the industry at home has connected by sharing their favourite stories of the man himself.

While his far-reaching impact has ensured he will be remembered for many reasons, especially for his contribution with seminal Aussie rock acts like Skyhooks and Barnesy, Michael Gudinski’s Mushroom Records was also at the forefront of driving the Australian pop scene. Here are the game changers we’re remembering him by today as the industry mourns a true giant.

Yothu Yindi - Treaty (Filthy Lucre Remix)

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A massive influence on getting Indigenous music heard, Michael Gudinski signed Yothu Yindi and released ‘Homeland Movement’, and album of amazing songs, but it wasn’t until remixes of ‘Treaty’ and later ‘Djapana’ (spearheaded by Gudinski) put the band on dancefloors across the world that Yothu Yindi’s legacy was truly cemented.

D.D Dumbo - Satan

A groundbreaking release, Gudinski pushed hard for success with this record winning the J Award for Album of the Year in 2016.

Kylie Minogue - Can’t Get You Out of My Head

Michael Gudinski not only backed Kylie when she was a child soap star, but he backed her on every album of her career. Through reinvention after reinvention, the Mushroom / Kylie powerhouse just kept moving forward. It was a tough call to pick just one, but given we couldn’t choose the whole Impossible Princess album, we had to go with reinvention #3 and the song that took her from superstar to Queen.

Peter Andre - Mysterious Girl

I guess he had thick skin after proving everyone wrong with Kylie, but can you imagine the roasting Gudinski would have received from his industry mates when he signed Pete? Well of course after a dodgy cover of ‘Gimme Little Sign’ and a WTF moment with ‘Funky Junky’, Gudinski and Molly teamed up to prove that Aussies can stand on the international pop stage and deliver a straight out banger. Show us a wedding DJ that’s not still filling floors with this one.

Willaris. K - Chapel (Ft. WaveIQ)

The Soothsayer label is a favourite of ours here at Purple Sneakers, signing and developing some of the best and most innovative talent in our scene including Willaris. K. And who’s behind it? Oh yeah, Mushroom again!

Rockmelons - Stronger Together

The Rockmelons were chameleons. From the cheesy pop of their first record to their massive soul pop hits with Deni Hines through to their club hits, Gudinski saw the raw talent and let it go in directions other labels may have discouraged.

Wicked Beat Sound System - Church of Al Green

As the 90s came to a close, new sounds were hitting and Aussie band Wicked Beat Sound System showed that down tempo electronic could be done as well here as anywhere. As usual, Gudinski backed it despite the obvious difficulty it would have on radio. He backed it because it was good and gave Aussie bands that wanted to forge their own path a go.

Headless Chickens - Cruise Control (Eskimos In Egypt Mix)

How do you make one of New Zealand’s biggest bands work across the ditch? Give them a good remix of course. Pushing the band into the top 30 here in Australia, this was another track that had multiple lives. As with songs like Hunters and Collectors' 'Throw Your Arms Around Me' that was released as singles multiple times, Gudinski was not one to give up when he believed in a song.

Daniel Merriweather - Change

A genre bender melting soul, pop, R&B and club into a record that struggled to cut through into the mainstream but has stood the test of time.

Gerling - Enter Spacecapsule

Probably better known for Dust Me Selecta, but it’s our list so this dancefloor anthem deserves some love. Moving through the ranks on Mushroom’s Reliant Records imprint and eventually releasing on Mushroom proper, Gerling were quirky and catchy... everything Australia loves.

Vale Michael Gudinski.

Image provided by Mushroom Group.