The announcement was made early Wednesday, just hours before Australia’s music community was due to gather with Gudinski’s friends and family for a state memorial at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena.
The late entrepreneur was a giant of Australia’s music industry who launched the Mushroom Records brand at the age of 20, and turned his Mushroom Group of Companies into a sprawling, independent empire with more than two-dozen businesses reaching into every conceivable area of music and beyond. He passed away unexpectedly on March 2, aged 68.
“In the past few weeks,” notes ARIA chairman Denis Handlin, “we have seen an outpouring of love, respect and admiration from so many around the world for the late Michael Gudinski who was a pioneer and true legend that changed the face of the Australian music industry. 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.”
After discussing the tribute with the Gudinski family, “this is the most appropriate honor for ARIA to bestow,” adds Handlin, “as it recognizes Michael’s profound impact on Australian artists, and the memories and legacy he created.”
First presented in 1987, the ARIA Award for breakthrough artist later split into two, being bestowed as breakthrough album and breakthrough single from 1989.
In 2010, the categories were reunited as best breakthrough artist award.
Over the years, a long line of artists from the Mushroom Group stable have snagged the award, including The Badloves, Frente, George, Deni Hines, Ian Moss and Youth Group. The 2020 ARIA breakthrough artist winner was Lime Cordiale.
Following his passing, scores of artists paid tribute to the energetic impresario, including Ed Sheeran, Paul McCartney, Kylie Minogue and Bruce Springsteen, who dedicated a song to Gudinski.
Sheeran remembered Gudinski as a “champion of up-and-coming artists,” recounting how the Melburnian would “always play me his new signing, or even his new favorite unsigned act. He was as excited and proud about putting out a new release on Mushroom than he was about bringing legends of music like McCartney and Springsteen to tour his home country.”
Gudinski’s state memorial will live stream on YouTube from 4am ET. The video, however, will not be viewable once the event concludes.
See below for details.