The Australian’s longtime music critic and reporter Iain Shedden passed away this week, sparking a flood of tributes from all over the Australian music industry. The Scottish-born Shedden was beloved by musicians, label staff, promoters and fellow journalists for his wry humour, measured opinions and impeccable bullshit detector.
The Industry Observer has teamed up with The Music Network to collect some thoughts, stories and tributes from a few of the people in the music business already feeling his loss. If you’d like to add yours, please email [email protected]
Michael Gudinski, Chairman, Mushroom Group
“Iain was the consummate gentleman, quick to share a good story and a laugh. His profound love of music and his generous support of Australian and International artists saw us cross paths numerous times over the decades. He will be sorely missed by all at the Mushroom Group and we extend our deepest sympathies to his wife Christine and his children Molly and Conor.”
Paul Piticco, Secret Sounds
Iain was a true Gentleman in music, I didn’t know him in his days behind a drum kit but more over I saw him offstage, backstage, standing in a muddy field at 10 in the morning observing and interviewing Powderfinger and a myriad Dew Process artists and many of our international touring acts and was very supportive of Splendour over the years.
He wrote with heart and was not afraid to let you know when you missed the mark creatively but his views were always insightful and something I read religiously and always took to heart. Grace, charm and wit gets you a long way in this world and Iain had enough of those things to last several lifetimes.
From all of us at Secret Sounds, especially Myself, Jessica and the Powderfinger guys. Thanks mate for your passion and your lifelong commitment to our culture, your music and words will resonate for many many years to come! Sleep well.
Mikey Cahill, journalist
I recall Shedden holding court backstage at Splendour in the Grass in that calm, inviting manner. We were talking about the great festivals we’d been too and I was raving about Roskilde Festival in Denmark. He looked up from his beer and said ‘Roooskildar? Yer, been there, played it een fuct. We weren’t veryyy guud but that’s not the point.
Iain Shedden was a passionate music fan with a thoughtful nature and forthright opinion. He was a decent man and an independent and reliable critic, a valuable part of the music scene in Australia. I was relieved and flattered when he wrote nice things about my music, a little chastened by his occasional criticism. That’s the way it should be. A gentleman and an intelligent reviewer. It’s a sad day for music.
Leanne de Souza, Rock’n’Roll Writers’ Festival & Association Of Artist Managers
Iain Shedden’s music commentary, features and criticism always demanded attention. It was an honour to have him reflect on his career and music journalism past, present at future at the festival this year.
I reckon I was interviewed by Iain about a half dozen times over the last 20 years. At least three of those were sitting down in person. They were always enjoyable conversations, he was a lovely guy, a genuinely thoughtful and careful interviewer and a great writer. I didn’t know him well – if anything I always found it pretty hard to get a read on him and I always thought that was an admirable quality in his line of work and the quality of his work speaks for itself. Australia has lost one of its great music writers.
Bernard Fanning (originally provided to The Australian)
I think that because Sheddy was a musician, it gave him a unique voice in music criticism, He could see it from both in and outside. His writing and interviews and yarns were full of charm, like the man himself. It was always a great pleasure to see his name come up on a media sheet or to see him at a show and share a beer and a few laughs. He leaves a big hole in the music community.
Bernard Zuel, journalist
It would come out of the side of his mouth with a tiny hint of a grin even as his face remained impassive, and you’d be trying hard not to laugh out loud.
It could be during a gig, an awards ceremony, a speech by a pompous “industry representative” from the media or music, or up the back of a bus taking a bunch of journos to an interview in Sheffield or New York or the Gold Coast.
There was nothing nasty about it but the line would cut through and remind you that Iain Shedden wasn’t on his first rodeo and could see through blather. And boy had he witnessed some blather.
Ask anyone who tried to sneak a dodgy interview, a weak album or a questionable artist on the superannuation tour past him and they’ll tell you how Iain would chop quickly through the blather: no, this isn’t worth a story, thanks, but I’ll pass.
But the thing was, Iain had never turned into one of those grumpy, bitter figures who “know” that anything good has already been done. He loved music, he loved writing, though he loved talking about the former much more than he did the latter.
He was still getting excited by the day job because this job we somehow had created for ourselves wasn’t like other jobs; it was one we did out of passion, all the while knowing how lucky we were to have that privilege.
Generous with his time and his knowledge, he would offer advice to new kids on the block easily, while with fellow old farts like me it never felt like rivalry because we were fellow converts to the best religion around.
And Iain loved the night job, still being a musician, still connecting with the thing that inspired him in the first place and the people he enjoyed almost as much as he loved his family, music makers.
A lovely bloke. A good journalist. A very fine human.
Larry Heath, journalist
A terrific writer and a pretty damn fine drummer too, I counted Iain as a mate, someone I looked up to as a music journalist and someone who has been remarkably supportive of everything I’ve done over the years. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without someone like Iain Shedden paving the way.
He came on board early as a judge for the NLMAs and would often be seen in the crowd at an AU review party. He was always there for advice or a few words of wisdom. For me, that stuff never went unnoticed or unappreciated. He was simply a lovely guy, who adored music. We didn’t always agree, but I always loved his take on any band we were watching or a new album that was released.
Often bumping into each other on planes and in airport lounges and festivals all over the world, seeing him became something of a joke. “You again! Typical I would see you here!” would be the common reaction to us passing each other by. Our chats I feel got briefer and briefer over the years because of this; there was an assumption we’d see each other again in a couple days time.He became such a mainstay in my professional life, I struggle to pinpoint the last time I did see him. It pains me that our track record has now come to an end.
Earlier this year, I moderated a panel he spoke on, and he commented that once he goes (from The Australian), there won’t be anyone to replace him. This was a comment more on the state of music journalism than some grand statement on his own talents, but I still feel it apt to move the thoughts to the later here. There won’t be another Iain Shedden.
I first met Iain in the early 1990s to talk about ARIA initiatives and industry issues. We would invariably meet at a nearby cafe or even over a steak and beer often at the Forresters pub in Surry Hills near The Australian office for about an hour or so. Although we’d start talking about industry issues our conversations would always drift to sports and then to new bands and albums.
His knowledge and intelligence were striking and his writing eloquent. You knew very quickly from the time you met him that Iain was a beautiful soul, a wonderful and humble man with a great smile and laugh who loved his family deeply.
Geoff Trio, venue owner & promoter
It’s with great sadness and disbelief trying to come to terms with the passing of Iain Shedden. Iain was part of the AMW family and a friend, he was one of our greatest supporters from the very start. He participated both as a journalist and as a speaker at past conferences, and we were looking forward to him gracing the stage this year with Dog Trumpet. We’d like to express our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones. He was a great man, gone too soon and he’ll be sorely missed by many in the Australian music industry and beyond.
Sosefina Fuamoli, journalist
I first met Iain at the AU review’s 5th birthday party in Sydney; he didn’t stay for the whole event but I remembered being intimidated by him, just in that way anyone might naturally be when in the presence of someone who had a career like his. I was lucky to have shared a stage with him at the 2017 Rock n Roll Writers Festival; alongside himself and Michael Dwyer I got to sit and listen to their stories just like everyone else. I was struck to be in his presence as well, but also to be considered a peer. He had that way about him. He was genuinely lovely and friendly to interact with no matter how much time had passed or how brief the encounter was. That’s a rare quality in this business; we’ve lost a champion.
Stephen Green, publicist
Iain always chose his words carefully. He was choosy about what he wrote about and even more so about what he wrote. He knew what was important and when things needed to be said and was a giant of his craft. He was respectful, human and plied his craft with dignity, commanding the respect of everyone he dealt with. He was as critical and even-handed as you want from a journalist, but also championed good people to do well, whether they were artists or even humble publicists. We need more Iain Sheddens, not less. You’re missed already.
Peter Noble OAM, Festival Director
“This is a shock. I’m never going to hear that lovely Scottish accent again. Iain Shedden is dead. Iain had a close connection with Bluesfest; he attended every year, wrote articles, and conducted fantastic video interviews on site for us. We had been having on and off conversations for a number of years now regarding his writing a book about my career. I regret I didn’t respond more promptly. Iain was (man that’s a hard word to say) a lovely guy. A gentleman. Unbelievable”
Bec Brown, publicist
I’d had the pleasure of working with “Shedders” for more than 10 years now. He never failed to give me some kind of feedback on an artist, whether they were an unknown or a mega star. We navigated stories together on everyone from Paul McCartney to The Wiggles, from Andre Rieu to Katy Perry.
He was funny, direct, and very, very kind.
Most recently we shared a giggle after he’d been amongst the screaming teens at a Katy Perry tour announce appearance.
I saw him taking a selfie which he later posted on his socials with the caption “So? It’s work.”
I took much glee sending him a story from The Courier Mail the next day, where his selfie-taking had been captured in print (see both pics below).
He responded with only three words. “Oh dear. Hilarious!”
I can’t believe he’s gone, he will be so very missed.
Vale Iain. Much love to Christine and his two children.
Lars Brandle, journalist
Iain was a class act. A rock. Confident but not arrogant. He’d seen it, done it but never bragged about it. He had all the best stories and was the guy you wanted to sit next to at dinner. A great bloke who’ll be sorely missed.
Stacey Piggot, publicist
Sheddy was a shining example of a man. He was the first music journo I ever pitched too, my naivety at the time lead me to confidently stalk him, that stalking lead to a great friendship that has spanned my whole career. He was kind, smart, talented, funny, respectful, straight up and always a total gentleman. His words carried weight, his passion for great music, especially great Australian music, gave a leg up to so many incredible artists of all genres over the years, he always supported quality at all levels. He was a talented musician, a brilliant writer and a great friend. It is hard to imagine life without him in it.
Leigh Treweek, Publisher & Manager
Iain Shedden was a true gentleman of the industry not only a fantastic writer but a passionate advocate for Australian artists. Always open with his time and always had his finger on the pulse. His writing was different to many other journalist as he he new the inside of what it was like to be a player in a band. He will be missed by all.
Christine Taylor, Publicist
I am shocked and saddened to hear that we have lost Iain Shedden. Ian was honest and considerate in his dealings with a great respect for the artist. A good journalist and musician and a fine human being. Condolences to his family.
Glenn Wright, Director Mullum Music Festival and Bello Winter Music
We were lucky enough to welcome Iain Shedden into the Mullum Music Festival family initially as a judge in our Youth Mentorship Program, then as a performer with King Curly at both Mullum and Bello Winter Music. He was a true gentleman, a steadfast champion of independent music makers in Australia and played a mean washboard in our street parade. Thank you Sheddy. Our love and condolences to his family and his many friends from all of us at Mullum and Bello.