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Newcastle’s Chit Chat remembers Michael Gudinski


Aussie music icon Michael Gudinski touched the lives of many during his 68 years on the planet, including Newcastle’s Glenn Dormand.

So when the world woke to the news of Gudinski’s passing on the morning of Tuesday 2 March, Dormand, like many others, felt an instant sense of loss.

Roadies lined the street during the funeral service of Australian music promoter Michael Gudinski, on March 10, 2021 in Melbourne. Photo: Getty Images

“When I first heard the news I was shocked,” he said.

“I’ve got a lot of friends in the [music] industry and we all just rang each other.

“It was really strange, a bit surreal.

“I think it was because he [Gudinski] was such a connector of people; you just wanted to connect with the people who knew him, as though that would make sense of it all somehow.”

Dormand, better known as Chit Chat Von Loopin Stab, is a songwriter, musician, record producer, radio announcer, TV presenter and filmmaker based in Newcastle.

Renowned for his role as one of the founding members of the band Machine Gun Fellatio, which formed in 1996 and played at large festivals including Big Day Out, St Kilda Festival and Livid, calling it a day in 2005.

Dormand’s latest venture has been partnering with fellow filmmaker Tony Whittaker to produce a set of a dozen short films documenting the history of Newcastle entitled ‘Stories of our Town’

Glenn Dormand and Michael Gudinski after Dormand’s band Machine Gun Fellatio won gold for its debut album Bring It On.

Dormand says he first met Gudinski more than 20 years ago.

The Melbourne-based businessman was the founder of Mushroom Group. 

He is famed for kickstarting the careers of music greats including Kylie Minogue, Jimmy Barnes, Skyhooks, Split Enz, Yothu Yindi and Archie Roach.

“Gudinski signed me when I was a songwriter,” Dormand said.

“That was wild, I mean it was Michael Gudinski and he loved my songwriting! 

“I was invited to his home in Mount Macedon (Victoria), and that whole experience was amazing.

“He’d fly in other songwriters and he’d sit us all in a room and we’d write a song.

“It was all about creating new songs and some of those songs ended up on our records.”

Respect is a term Dormand believes should be synonymous with Gudinski.

“He might have been the head of the company but he connected with everyone,” he said.

“He treated people with respect.

“There is no single person that has done more for Australian music.”

Gudinski had a genuine love of the industry, Dormand says.

“He was all about enabling the artist,” he added.

“He will be sadly missed because it is so rare to have the head of a record company and a film company that fights for artists.

“There’s a Charlton Heston quote, it’s about the film industry but it’s relevant to the music industry, too.

” ‘The problem with the film industry is it’s an art revolving around a business and a business revolving around an art. This is the problem. They’re constantly two ideas that fight each other’. But it seemed to be okay to have both with Michael.”

A forward-thinker, Gudinski will forever be remembered as a trailblazer within the music industry Dormand says.

“When people in the industry get together they tend to talk about the good old days,” he explained.

“All he [Gudinski] ever wanted to talk about was his latest signing and his latest tour. It was the fact that he only looked forward that he was so successful I think.

“Pioneer is a word I’ve heard a lot, that’s what he was.”

Gudinski reportedly died in his sleep from a suspected heart attack.

He was 68 years old.

“People say he died young,” Dormand said. 

“He was wild, he was chaotic and I’m sure he didn’t sleep.

“He literally lived at least 10 lives in one.”

For all his business, Gudinski’s legacy is certain to include his charitable deeds, Dormand says, including his ability to pull together an event. 

“Gudinski led the charge on Sound Relief and WaveAid,” he told Newcastle Weekly

“They were massive charity events and he led the charge for both of them.

“He got bands to come and play, big, big names. He could just pull these things together.

“When we had all these bushfires and floods he immediately had everyone on speed dial. 

“It wouldn’t matter who he called, people would agree to help out straight away. Not many people have that refedex and that determination to want to help.”

And, to receive a phone call from the man with the legendary husky voice was an honour, Dormand admits, regardless of the hour.

When he was producing a documentary series entitled Great Music Cities of the World in 2012, Dormand was on the receiving end of one of those calls.

“It was the night the Melbourne episode aired,” he said.

“I was sitting on the couch at about 12 o’clock and my phone went with a private number. 

“It was Michael, with his gruff voice going Right, yes, I just watched Melbourne and I gotta say you nailed it‘. 

“He spent 15 minutes telling me all the great things that were in the show and then said ‘That’s all I got to say. Good night’ and hung up.

“It couldn’t have been a better compliment. I mean God could have called me up and it wouldn’t have felt as good.”

The last time Dormand spoke to Gudinski was 12 months ago after he’d sent a copy of his latest documentary ‘The Star Hotel’ to his former booking agent, whose office was next door to Gudinski’s in Melbourne.

“He called to say how much he loved the film but then Michael started yelling in the background. 

“I could hear this ‘Argh Chit Chat how’s it going?’, in his distinctive voice,” Dormand smiles.

“He will be missed.”

  • A state memorial service will take place for Michael Gudinski in Melbourne on Wednesday 24 March.

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