Michael Chugg has long been described as an icon of the Australia music landscape. On Wednesday (Nov. 27), it was made official.
The concert promoting legend was feted as an ARIAs Icon during an invite-only ceremony at Sydney’s Marquee ahead of the 2019 ARIA Awards.
During his acceptance speech, Chugg paid tribute to his family and his fallen comrades, who include Billy Thorpe, Robbie Williams’ co-manager David Enthoven and CMC Rocks co-founder Rob Potts, and spoke of his excitement for Australia’s music scene.
“To see where it is today, it’s really so, so exciting and so rewarding. It keeps me going, keeps me involved with the music. I’ll die with my boots on.”
The ARIA Awards, he explained, was a “true reflection of where Australian music is going. We’ve been dreaming about taking over the world for 55 years, me anyway. And we’re on the verge now. We’re on the verge of Australian music dominating the world.”
The Icon award “recognises and celebrates the work of a person who has made a significant contribution to the industry,” explained Denis Handlin, ARIA Chairman and Chairman and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment Australia and New Zealand and President, Asia.
“Chuggi is the guy who can have a party in an empty room, he’s the guy who can clear a room after dropping a thousand f-bombs in under five minutes. He has dedicated his life to this industry with a tremendous amount of passion, commitment, risk taking and just love of artists. He also has this great feel for this industry,” Handlin said in his opening remarks.
“For 50 years,” Handlin continued, “he’s promoting some of the biggest tours to ever come to Australia and New Zealand and developed iconic festivals. Chuggi has toured hundreds of Australian and international artists and the one thing that’s common with those people you talk to, those artists love and trust Chuggi.”
Chugg joins an elite circle of Icons which also includes Michael Gudinski (inducted in 2013), Handlin (2014) and Sebastian Chase (2016), all of whom were in the room.
Handlin also noted the reunion of the dynamite duo of Gudinski and Chugg. “The marriage is back on track,” Handlin said to rapturous applause.
The Chugg Entertainment chief was inducted with a career highlights package video featuring tributes — and more than a few ribbings — from the likes of Gudinski, Alice Cooper, Keith Urban, Jason Mraz, members of Sheppard and others.
Robbie Williams had the last word, which he delivered with a particularly cheeky grin. “There’s only really one thing you can say to a person who has commanded that much respect, and longevity within the industry. And that is, ‘fuck off you bastard and pay me my fucking money.’”