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Taylor Swift and Elton John deliver tributes at Michael Gudinski’s state funeral

Michael Gudinski’s state memorial drew big name stars, including Sting, Billy Joel, Taylor Swift and Elton John.

The memorial was held in Melbourne on Wednesday, with international acts dialling in from overseas to pay their respects to the music mogul.  

Describing him as his ‘hero’ and ‘one-of-a-kind’, Jimmy Barnes also paid touching tribute to his late friend, who died suddenly earlier this month.

In loving memory: Jimmy Barnes paid touching tribute to Michael Gudinski at his state memorial in Melbourne on Wednesday

‘Michael and I were like flesh and blood, we really were,’ the 64-year-old rockstar said, before dedicating his new song to the late record executive. 

Dressed in a kilt to represent his native Scotland, Jimmy turned out a rousing rock performance of Flesh and Blood. 

He then called his family onstage to perform a more mellow ballad and admitted: ‘We’re going to try not to cry.’

'Michael and I were like flesh and blood, we really were,' the 64-year-old rockstar said, before dedicating his new song to the late record executive

‘Michael and I were like flesh and blood, we really were,’ the 64-year-old rockstar said, before dedicating his new song to the late record executive

Special appearances: The memorial drew tributes from international acts, including Sting, Billy Joel, Taylor Swift and Elton John (pictured)

Special appearances: The memorial drew tributes from international acts, including Sting, Billy Joel, Taylor Swift and Elton John (pictured)

The memorial drew tributes from international acts, including Sting, Billy Joel, Taylor Swift and Elton John.

An emotional Taylor, 31, recounted spending birthdays with Gudinski and his family at their home in Melbourne. 

Closer to home, local talent including Kasey Chambers, Amy Shark, Missy Higgins and Kate Ceberano reflected on their relationships with the late music exec. 

Looking back: An emotional Taylor Swift recounted spending birthdays with Gudinski and his family at their home in Melbourne

Looking back: An emotional Taylor Swift recounted spending birthdays with Gudinski and his family at their home in Melbourne

Sad: Appearing to get tear-eyed, Taylor called into the memorial via video, paying tribute to the late Gudinski

Sad: Appearing to get tear-eyed, Taylor called into the memorial via video, paying tribute to the late Gudinski

Skyhooks guitarist-turned-TV star Redmond ‘Red’ Symons was one of the first to arrive, holding hands with a female companion at the state funeral. 

Paying respects: Skyhooks guitarist-turned-TV star Redmond 'Red' Symons was one of the first to arrive, holding hands with a female companion at the state funeral

Paying respects: Skyhooks guitarist-turned-TV star Redmond ‘Red’ Symons was one of the first to arrive, holding hands with a female companion at the state funeral

Sombre: Red looked solemn as he made his way to the entrance of the sporting arena wearing a black suit with his blazer draped over his shoulders

Sombre: Red looked solemn as he made his way to the entrance of the sporting arena wearing a black suit with his blazer draped over his shoulders

Red looked solemn as he made his way to the entrance of the sporting arena wearing a black suit with his blazer draped over his shoulders. 

Comedian and Little Big Shots host Shane Jacobson also appeared stony-faced as he entered the arena. 

The actor arrived solo to pay his respects to the beloved industry titan.  

Solemn: Comedian and Little Big Shots host Shane Jacobson also looked stony-faced as he entered the arena for the state funeral

Solemn: Comedian and Little Big Shots host Shane Jacobson also looked stony-faced as he entered the arena for the state funeral

Respects: Nova FM radio host Ryan 'Fitzy' Fitzgerald was also seen entering the arena. The renowned music fan wore a band T-shirt for Queens of the Stone Age

Respects: Nova FM radio host Ryan ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald was also seen entering the arena. The renowned music fan wore a band T-shirt for Queens of the Stone Age

Nova FM radio host Ryan ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald was also seen entering the arena. 

The renowned music fan paid subtle tribute to Michael, wearing a band T-shirt for Queens of the Stone Age under a dark blazer.

The radio star looked choked up as he strolled silently to the entrance of Rod Laver with both hands meekly in his pockets.  

Mark of respect: Elsewhere, Channel Nine entertainment journalist Richard Wilkins was seen alongside his girlfriend, Nicola Dale

Mark of respect: Elsewhere, Channel Nine entertainment journalist Richard Wilkins was seen alongside his girlfriend, Nicola Dale

In attendance: The couple held hands as they joined other mourners in the line to enter the arena, strolling purposefully to the entrance

In attendance: The couple held hands as they joined other mourners in the line to enter the arena, strolling purposefully to the entrance

Elsewhere, Channel Nine entertainment journalist Richard Wilkins was seen alongside his girlfriend, Nicola Dale. 

The couple held hands as they joined other mourners in the line to enter the arena, strolling purposefully to the entrance. 

The veteran entertainment reporter and his girlfriend both opted for all-black ensembles for the state memorial.

Sporting hero: Sporting identities also turned out for the funeral, with AFL star Nick Riewoldt also seen entering the venue

Sporting hero: Sporting identities also turned out for the funeral, with AFL star Nick Riewoldt also seen entering the venue

Stepping out: Comedian Andy Lee was also in attendance, arriving his longtime girlfriend, Rebecca Harding

Stepping out: Comedian Andy Lee was also in attendance, arriving his longtime girlfriend, Rebecca Harding

Sporting identities also turned out for the funeral, with AFL star Nick Riewoldt also seen entering the venue. 

The sporting hero chatted to a mate as he entered the venue with his hands solemnly in his pockets.  

Comedian Andy Lee was also in attendance, arriving his longtime girlfriend, Rebecca Harding.

Tribute: Renowned Australian journalist, Billy Birmingham, also turned out for the star-studded event, and recreated Michael's signature 'number one' pose

Tribute: Renowned Australian journalist, Billy Birmingham, also turned out for the star-studded event, and recreated Michael’s signature ‘number one’ pose

The 39-year-old was seen talking on his phone as he walked into the arena ahead of the memorial. 

Renowned Australian journalist, Billy Birmingham, also turned out for the star-studded event, and recreated Michael’s signature ‘number one’ pose. 

The state funeral was held at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena, and Gudinski was appropriately given a rock star send-off.

Vale: As well as live performances, the memorial included tributes and speeches celebrating Gudinski's 'significant contribution to the Australian and international music industry and the state of Victoria'

Vale: As well as live performances, the memorial included tributes and speeches celebrating Gudinski’s ‘significant contribution to the Australian and international music industry and the state of Victoria’

Ed Sheeran is rumoured to be performing at the star-studded farewell, after he flew into Australia and quarantined in Byron Bay earlier this month. 

‘Michael was a tornado of joy,’ the 30-year-old Shape of You singer wrote after learning of Gudinski’s death.

‘You would know he arrived in the building just by hearing the chaotic bark of his, and you could feel the room get excited about the arrival of his presence.

Full house: Arena seating has been reserved for official guests, family, friends, colleagues and industry representatives, with some tickets also allocated to registered members of the public

Full house: Arena seating has been reserved for official guests, family, friends, colleagues and industry representatives, with some tickets also allocated to registered members of the public

‘He was such a force, and would make everyone feel like they were the most important person to him.’

As well as live performances, the memorial included tributes and speeches celebrating Gudinski’s ‘significant contribution to the Australian and international music industry and the state of Victoria’.

‘Michael’s passion for music was legendary and his advocacy for artists established him as a much loved, respected and admired leader in the industry in Australia and overseas,’ read the event’s webpage.

Loved: Attendees were treated to memorial programs shaped like record albums, with Gudinski's beaming face on the front

Loved: Attendees were treated to memorial programs shaped like record albums, with Gudinski’s beaming face on the front

Arena seating has been reserved for official guests, family, friends, colleagues and industry representatives, with some tickets also allocated to registered members of the public.

The memorial is expected to run for two-and-a-half hours and will be live-streamed on YouTube from 7.07pm.

The start time is reportedly in honour of Gudinski’s favourite wine, Penfolds Bin 707.

In lieu of flowers, the Gudinski family asked people to consider making a contribution to Support Act, a fund for musicians doing it tough during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kylie Minogue, who appeared sombre at Gudinski’s private funeral earlier this month, also attended the state memorial. 

Gudinski was farewelled at Melbourne’s Ormond Hall on March 10, with over 300 mourners in attendance. 

Other attendees included Jimmy Barnes, sporting greats Shane Warne and Nick Riewoldt, actors and entertainers including Sam Neill and Asher Keddie, AFL boss Gillon McLachlan and billionaire trucking magnate Lindsay Fox. 

On Wednesday, it was revealed that an ARIA Award is being renamed in honour of late music industry icon. 

The Australian Recording Industry Association announced the award for Best Breakthrough Artist will be renamed the Michael Gudinski Breakthrough Artist ARIA Award. 

It will be presented for the first time at this year’s awards ceremony, which usually takes place in November. 

‘It is unequivocal that Michael’s passion was breaking Australian artists and putting them on a world stage, and he had a proud history of success in doing so,’ ARIA chairman Denis Handlin said in a statement.

‘Following personally discussing this with Michael’s family, this is the most appropriate honour for ARIA to bestow as it recognises Michael’s profound impact on Australian artists, and the memories and legacy he created.’

Gudinski, who was widely regarded as the ‘father of the Australian music industry’, died in Melbourne on March 2. 

He was 68 and is outlived by his wife Sue, children Matt and Kate, and two grandchildren.

The famed music promoter formed record company Mushroom Records at just 20 years old.

He went on to sign and launch the careers of local artists such as Kylie Minogue, who is now one of the biggest pop stars in the world.

In attendance: Kylie Minogue (left), who appeared sombre at Gudinski's private funeral earlier this month, also attended the state memorial

In attendance: Kylie Minogue (left), who appeared sombre at Gudinski’s private funeral earlier this month, also attended the state memorial

In 1979, he established concert promoter Frontier Touring and stayed at its helm until his death.  

Mushroom Group said in a statement at the time: ‘It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Michael Gudinski AM overnight. 

‘The much-loved Australian music legend died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Melbourne, Australia. Michael Gudinski was a key figure in shaping the Australian music industry.

RIP: Gudinski was 68 and is outlived by his wife Sue (pictured together at the premiere of King Kong in Melbourne in June 2013), children Matt and Kate, and two grandchildren

RIP: Gudinski was 68 and is outlived by his wife Sue (pictured together at the premiere of King Kong in Melbourne in June 2013), children Matt and Kate, and two grandchildren

‘He founded the Mushroom Group in 1972 at just 20 years old, which flourished into Australia’s largest independent entertainment group covering touring, record labels, publishing, merchandising, booking agencies, film and television production and creative services.

‘Some of Australia’s most iconic albums have been released under one of his Mushroom Group record labels.’

The statement continued: ‘His touring company Frontier Touring is Australia’s leading promoter, touring the biggest names in global music since its inception in 1979.

Close: Ed Sheeran (right) is rumoured to be performing at the star-studded farewell, after he flew into Australia and quarantined in Byron Bay earlier this month

Close: Ed Sheeran (right) is rumoured to be performing at the star-studded farewell, after he flew into Australia and quarantined in Byron Bay earlier this month

‘A larger-than-life figure, Michael was widely respected for his unwavering passion for all music – in particular Australian music.’ 

Shortly after news broke about Gudinski’s death, a variety of stars, including Kylie and Dannii Minogue, Bruce Springsteen, Russell Crowe and Jimmy Barnes, paid touching tribute to him.

During last year’s COVID-19 lockdown, Gudinski recruited the likes of Jimmy Barnes and Crowded House to perform at the Music From the Home Front television concert, organising the event in just nine days.

Shortly after news broke about Gudinski's death, a variety of stars, including Kylie (left) and Dannii Minogue (right), paid touching tribute to him. Pictured at the Sound Relief Bushfire Benefit Concert in Melbourne in March 2009

Shortly after news broke about Gudinski’s death, a variety of stars, including Kylie (left) and Dannii Minogue (right), paid touching tribute to him. Pictured at the Sound Relief Bushfire Benefit Concert in Melbourne in March 2009

He was arguably one of the most powerful and influential figures in the music industry during his illustrious career.

After forming Mushroom Records in 1972, the label went on to work with artists such as Madonna, ABBA, Jason Donovan and Nelly Furtado.

Gudinski also enjoyed international success with artists such as Peter Andre and Garbage, and promoted tours for major acts worldwide.

Maverick: In 1979, he established concert promoter Frontier Touring and stayed at its helm until his death. Pictured at Hanging Rock in Victoria in March 2013

Maverick: In 1979, he established concert promoter Frontier Touring and stayed at its helm until his death. Pictured at Hanging Rock in Victoria in March 2013

Most recently, Frontier Touring promoted Elton John’s epic farewell tour in 2020. 

In June 2006, Gudinski was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia medal (AM) for his service to the entertainment industry through his work in promoting Australian recording artists.

In 2009, he played a major role in organising the Sound Relief benefit concerts, which raised millions for victims of the Victorian bushfires and Queensland floods.

Iconic: In June 2006, Gudinski was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia medal (AM) for his service to the entertainment industry through his work in promoting Australian recording artists. Pictured in Melbourne in September 2006

Iconic: In June 2006, Gudinski was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia medal (AM) for his service to the entertainment industry through his work in promoting Australian recording artists. Pictured in Melbourne in September 2006

In 2012, Gudinski was honoured by the city of Melbourne as ‘Melburnian of the Year’.

Gudinski also helped promote Ed Sheeran’s record-breaking Australasian tour in 2018, which saw more than a million tickets sold.

With Frontier’s help, Ed shattered the record set by Dire Straits 32 years earlier, when they sold 950,000 tickets on one tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1986.

Music man: He was arguably one of the most powerful and influential figures in the music industry during his illustrious career

Music man: He was arguably one of the most powerful and influential figures in the music industry during his illustrious career


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