‘I loved him’: Chugg honours ‘soul brother’ Gudinski

 

For as long as anyone in the Australian music industry can remember, they've always been The Michaels.

Michael Gudinski and Michael Chugg, joined to the hip since they were teenagers and mates for five decades, even when they were competitors in business.

Chuggy was gobsmacked by the sheer volumes of calls, texts and emails which flooded his phone on Tuesday as he struggled to process the loss of his "soul brother".

Michael Gudinski and music promoter Michael Chugg, pictured in 1998, were friends since they were teenagers.
Michael Gudinski and music promoter Michael Chugg, pictured in 1998, were friends since they were teenagers.

"We were talking at 9 o'clock last night about Sheppard and a hundred other things and I told him to go to bed - he never, ever wanted to go to bed - we would talk in the morning.

"I was so proud of him, for what he did for the Australian music industry last year - he threw millions of dollars into the industry and kept hundreds of people alive. And he was giving cheques out to bushfire brigades throughout Victoria. He gave money to hospitals, to choirs.

"I remember us working together on the Sound Relief concerts and they took four to six weeks to pull together; he pulled Music From The Home Front together in three weeks, it was lunatic stuff and he nearly gave us all nervous breakdowns.

Chugg says his good friend Michael Gudinski was a loyal man, full of passion and energy.
Chugg says his good friend Michael Gudinski was a loyal man, full of passion and energy.

"We've always been friends and I hung out with him and Sue (Gudinski) even when we weren't in business together. We got back together because we were talking about how we weren't getting any younger and about what legacy we could leave our families and the industry. It has been really great since we got back together (in 2019).

"When we first worked together back in the early days, we would stage arguments backstage just to keep people on their toes; I could yell louder and he'd always lose his voice. We could both tell each other when we were out of order when no one else could.

"He rescued me a few times; I remember after a broken love affair I locked myself in a hotel room for a week and he was the only one who could kick the door down and get me back on my feet.

"We both fought for 50 years to get Australian music on radio and we're still fighting. I remember him signing Split Enz because he believed in them when I'd just seen them play at a Coogee pub in front of 20 people throwing glasses at them.

"Bands he supported like Jo Jo Zep and The Sports, determined to take them to America playing all these small towns and getting run out of town after the show.

"Artists loved him because he was a real promoter, he knew how to create excitement, he knew how to make the audience turn up and how to look after the band.

"He'd often have three big tours going at the same time and he'd be going 24 hours straight, it was his life, he was never a nine to five guy with all that passion and energy and love for what he did and the people he did it with.

"And he was loyal. He backed a lot of acts other people said would go nowhere. He became a lot softer and gentler in the last few years, I think since he became a grandad.

"I'm just so sad. I don't think I've ever been this sad. I loved him."

Originally published as 'I loved him': Chugg honours 'soul brother' Gudinski