The Hot Seat: Michael Chugg

Published in The Music Network


With the release of Michael Chugg’s memoirs Hey, You In The Black T-Shirt (read an excerpt here) last week, we speak to the iconic promoter about finally writing the book, and whether he’s expecting any repercussions, legal or otherwise.

Michael, your book delves into drink, drugs. Did you need to get something off your chest?
No, but I suppose that’s come in to it. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just another piece of bullshit, a fluff piece like so many things are these days. I was pretty honest about it all. People have been hassling me for ten years to do it. We haven’t dumped anybody in it as such. I just wanted to get it out. It’s that classic story, if you want to do something you believe in enough, you can do it. I wanted to get that across to people.

Does this mean you’re bowing out of the promoter game?
No. Shit no. No way.

So what made you finally agree to do the book?
(ARIA Awards event producer) Mark Pope drove me crazy. In the end, I gave-in four years ago. We did about 40 hours of recording in Byron Bay. Then Mark said, “I can’t make it laugh on paper”. Amanda Pelman and I had been looking around for authors and (publicist) Gaynor Crawford suggested Iain. Two years ago this November, Iain came up to Phuket for a week and we began. He had a big start with Mark’s work, and away we went.

Shedden himself has spent time as a member of The Saints. What did he add to the process?
Certainly a fair bit of knowledge, and great researching into the vagaries of a lot of it. He was able to capture my voice. A lot of people who have read it have commented that it’s just like listening to me talk. I couldn’t have done it without Iain, that’s for sure.

What did you learn about yourself from writing this book?
I’ve had to face how I was when I was young, and all my insecurities. It’s made me feel better about myself.

What were you nervous about publishing?
I felt nervous about the whole thing. Twelve weeks ago I was having second thoughts about letting it come out. That didn’t last long. I’ve been as honest as I can.

What was cut out?
We had about 30 pages of comments from the attorneys. We changed a few things around, dropped a few parts and there are a couple of chapters that could have gone in but didn’t.

Are you expecting anyone to sue?
No, I’m not. (Mushroom Group Chairman) Michael Gudinski was obviously worried about it. We let him read the first grabs of it, and he’s been telling people it’s a great read. There will be a few pissed-off people, but I’ve told the truth. You can’t really get into trouble for telling the truth.

Gudinski says he’ll never write a book because he wouldn’t be able to tell the true stories.
Yeah, maybe. But he’s doing a documentary. He tried to get it out before my book, but I beat him to it.

Did you ask for an early edit on that doco?
No, I couldn’t give a fuck. That’s never bothered me.

What’s your favourite story from the book?
There are so many. The Crowded House story – Farewell To The World. There are a few things in there that nobody really knew about, like the six days in the county jail. But there’s nothing in there I’m ashamed of. People have read it and said to me it’s given them the courage to attempt things they’ve been considering. If it gives them courage and makes people feel good about the music business, then I think I’ve done my job.

Finally, what’s you take on the health of the live scene?
Since they’ve called that election, things have started to look grim. The big artists are slowing down and there’s too many acts coming in December. It could be a tough summer.


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