Ed Sheeran’s tribute to Aussie icon Michael Gudinski

English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran cried on stage as he remembered his friend Australian music titan Michael Gudinski as “a barrel of laughs”.

The ‘Thinking Out Loud’ singer was one of a long list of superstars to pay tribute to the godfather of Australian music at a state memorial attended by thousands at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday night.

Gudinski, the founder and chairman of the Mushroom Group, died peacefully in his sleep on earlier this month, aged 68.

Speaking at the Aussie music promoter and manager’s state memorial, Sheeran said Gudinski would be “absolutely buzzed” the memorial was held in Rod Laver Arena.

Dressed in a black suit with a red, black and white striped tie, Sheeran first sang a laid back version of Castle on the Hill which he said was one of Gudinski’s favourite songs.

The British singer-songwriter retold the story of how he met Gudinski in Melbourne and thought he was “very professional”.

“We did our first tour with him and soon after that I quickly realized that he was just a barrel of laughs.

“Everywhere he went he lifted the room and then f..ked off.”

An emotional Sheeran cried during his final song which he wrote last week while in lockdown

He told the crowd he wrote songs to process his feelings.

After news of Gudinski’s death, Sheeran posted an emotional message on social media, describing his friend, mentor and “father figure” as a “tornado of joy”.

“Nothing will fill the void he left in our lives, but the memories we all have of him will live on,” the post read.

“In between the tears there has been laughter and joy remembering this Titan of a man.”

Earlier at the memorial, superstar Taylor Swift said her family was sending their condolences and love to Gudinski’s family and friends.

“I met Michael through work but it became very apparent to me that he cared about me as a person and this was a friendship and he had my back,” she said.

“I had spent birthdays with Michael and Sue. They’ve opened up their home to me.

“I will never forget the wonderful times in my life that came about because of Michael, because he believed in me.”

Elton John, who also gave a message at the memorial, said he was a “legend” for Australian music.

“Musicians from all over the world wanted to come to Australia so that they could work for him because he loved music so much,” he said.

“He took care of his artists. He became their friends and their confidants.

“Not many people in the business can do that.”

The ‘Rocket Man’ singer said he felt honoured to work with Gudinski because people like him “don‘t come along” often.

“We will cherish his memory and we will miss him.”
Billy Joel, one of the most successful singer-songwriters of all time, said Gudinski loved music, musicians and Australia.

“I’m gonna miss that energy and I’m going to miss Michael,” he said.

Other international stars that shared kind words were Bruce Springsteen, Sam Smith and Bryan Adams.

Australian artists, like Kate Ceberano, Kasey Chambers, Missy Higgins and Amy Shark, also spoke of their memories of the music promoter.

Many celebrities and Australian icons attended the memorial, including Red Simons, Shane Jacobson, Brian Mannix, and Daryl Braithwaite.

Australian icons Jimmy Barnes and Paul Kelly were some of the other artists that performed at the memorial.

Sting also paid an acoustic tribute and said: “I miss you” when he finished singing.

Barnes, who made music with Gudinski for 40 years, said he was his “friend” and “brother” and they “did everything together”.

“He was my hero. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t been to Mike,” he said.

“Michael was one of a kind and Australian music would not be what it is today without his support, his laugh, his nurturing.”

Posters from Gudinski’s touring company Frontier Touring were displayed outside of the arena.

The memorial opened with a Welcome to Country, followed by the national anthem sung by his goddaughter, Mahalia Barnes.

Melbourne radio broadcaster Lee Simon, who hosted the memorial, said he “just clicked” when he first met Gudinski and they had a lifelong friendship.

“He cared about his artists,” he said.

“He left no stone unturned, and made sure there were plenty of crew for everything to run smoothly.”

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