In the weeks before his sudden death in March, Aussie music titan Michael Gudinski was scheming up his next big gig – a massive event showcasing, celebrating, and supporting First Nations artists.

The plan was let slip at his enormous state memorial at Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday night, where Paul Kelly mentioned Gudinski approached him backstage at Archie Roach‘s gig at Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne in February to talk about his stewing plans.

Paul noted that Gudinski was planning to bring together artists and acts from communities right across Australia to one big event, which he also planned to have televised for the rest of the country to see.

michael gudinski memorial paul kelly
[Image: Iain Laidlaw / Mushroom Creative House]
He also hinted that Gudinski had approached him with the plan for the big event with the hopes that he would play a part in the big First Nations gig.

“I’ve said no to Michael many times, and I’ve said yes to him many times,” Paul said.

“But I’m glad I said yes to him this time.”

Though we don’t have much more information on this beyond Michael’s grand plans, Paul did mention that the wider Mushroom Group are apparently working on bringing Michael’s dream to life, and told everyone to “watch this space”.

PEDESTRIAN.TV has reached out to Mushroom Group for a comment on the planned First Nations event.

Gudinski’s support of First Nations artists is a large part of his legacy as the godfather of the Australian music scene. From opening doors to artists like Yothu YindiArchie Roach, and Dan Sultan through signings to Mushroom Records over the last 35 years, artists recognised him as a staunch supporter of First Nations music in Australia.

Putting on large-scale events was part of Gudinski’s bread and butter throughout his career. From working on the first Sunbury Rock Festival in the 70s (and selling watermelon to punters on the side at the show) to wrangling the massive, marathon-length Sound Relief events, which raised $8million for the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Appeal and the Queensland floods.

At the start of 2020, Gudinski put on 2021 Sounds Better Together – a huge concert tour that ended in bushfire-ravaged Mallacoota, with free tickets handed out to local residents who had lost their homes in the recent devastating Black Summer fires.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and months-long lockdowns across Australia, Gudinski then pivoted and pulled strings to see live music happen in a different way through music programs and live-streamed events like The Sound with ABC, Music From The Home Front, and the State Of Music in Victoria.

Update: March 26, 2021

On March 26, Mushroom Group issued a statement to PEDESTRIAN.TV about the First Nations event that Gudinski was working on in the lead up to his sudden death. The statement said the event was in the works to happen in April 2021, but due to his passing, Mushroom Group have decided to push it back to later in the year.

“Frontier Touring can confirm a First Nations event is in the works and was due to take place in April,” the statement read.

“Due to the sudden passing of Michael Gudinski the decision has been made to move this event to later in the year to ensure Michael’s full vision of this incredible event is honoured.

“Stay tuned for more information.”

Image: Mushroom Creative House