The Wild Ones

The story of Australian music is full of ‘wild ones’ who have improvised, innovated and followed sparks of intuition to propel the home-grown industry in new and exciting directions. Early local heroes such as Johnny O’Keefe and Col Joye burst onto the rock and roll scene in the 1950s with a ‘do-it-yourself’ approach to managing, recording, publishing and promoting was necessary. If something didn’t exist they created it – from flamboyant handmade suits to electric guitars and amplifiers.


Many artists had to overcome social barriers to their success. Australia’s first Indigenous popstar, Jimmy Little, became a household name in the early 1960s at a time when Australia’s First Peoples were still waiting to be formally recognised as citizens. During the 1970s, gutsy blues singer Wendy Saddington shook up a live music scene dominated by male ‘prog rock’ and pub bands.


As the music industry grew so too did the need to innovate. During the 1970s and 80s, Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum pioneered a new way of reporting that combined critical reviews with personal opinion and anecdotes sourced from within the music scene. Michael Gudinski’s 360 degree approach to publishing, recording, concert promotion and merchandising fundamentally changed the Australian music business. More recently, producer and sound engineer Tony Cohen’s unorthodox approach to sound creation and mixing helped to create unique sound profiles for artists as diverse as Nick Cave, The Cruel Sea and Powderfinger.

Today, online platforms continue to inspire new creative approaches to recording and distributing music enabling independent artists such as Tash Sultana to go from busker to international headliner in just a few years.


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