Ed Sheeran breaks down performing new song written in quarantine for Michael Gudinski as he leads star-studded State Memorial
Ed Sheeran has led a star-studded send off for Australian music legend Michael Gudinski.
The singer broke down on stage as he performed a new song called ‘Visiting Hours’, which Sheeran wrote during his quarantine in tribute to the tour promoter and record label founder.
“I’m extremely, extremely grateful to be here – it’s a difficult thing to get into this country and I don’t take it for granted at all, all the hard work it’s taken to get me here – I just appreciate the opportunity to be able to say goodbye,” he said on stage during the State Memorial held at Rod Laver Arena.
“In lockdown I was able to have a guitar, for quarantine. I always find the best to process stuff is to write songs, be it good news, bad news or whatever so yeah, here’s a song I finished last week.”
While performing the never-before-heard track, Sheeran kept his eyes closed as he sung about the fact his daughter will never get to meet the man he calls a close friend.
Sheeran came out of his self-imposed career break for the appearance, performing three songs in total including ‘Castle on a Hill’ and ‘The A Team’, songs he described as Gudinski’s “favourites, basically”.
While introducing ‘Castle on a Hill’, Sheeran revealed Gudinski heard the lyrics wrong and he never had the heart to correct him.
“I have a very vivid memory of being at his house in Port Douglas at about three in the morning, both on deck chairs and I play him this song Castle on the Hill, 2015 or something… and he must have misheard the lyrics or something because every time he saw me he shouted ‘we were younger then’ and I never told him it was actually ‘I was younger then’ but from now on it’s ‘we were younger then’,” he laughed.
The 30-year-old apologised to the crowd for his uncharacteristic nerves as he re-tuned his guitar and told the 7200-strong audience Gudinski would be “absolutely buzzed” his send off was in the Rod Laver Arena.
Sheeran recalled his first meeting with Gudinski, which got a laugh from the audience, and described the industry titan as a barrel of laughs and “tornado of joy”.
When Michael’s son Matt Gudinski took to the stage, he thanked Sheeran for coming to Melbourne with his wife and newborn daughter.
“Ed, I would like to thank you for being here today, it means a lot,” Matt began.
“Our families are extremely close and it means the world that you, Cherry and Lyra have joined our family tonight.”
Matt praised his father’s tenacity, business prowess as well as his focus on family.
Before leaving the stage, Matt introduced another performer, “the first lady of Mushroom”, Kylie Minogue.
“I have wrestled with what to say on this stage,” Minogue told the audience, adding “my heart’s pounding”.
The Melbourne-born singer recalled her first show with Gudinski and reveals he flew over to the UK for her Glastonbury show in 2019, a huge moment in the singer’s career.
Minogue then re-introduced Sheeran onto the stage to perform with her and told the crowd: “He didn’t come over for this show, he came over as an incredible gut reaction”.
The ‘Spinning Around’ singer said Gudinski had always said she and Sheeran needed to meet and now they have properly, she told the crowd: “we just know he’d be beaming, beaming!”
The duo performed an acoustic version of Minogue’s hit ‘All the Lovers’ before ‘The Loco-motion’.
‘We’re going to go back to where it all began, at least for me back in 1987 — Ed was not even a glint in is mother’s eye then but he learnt this song for tonight,” Minogue laughed before asking the crowd to singalong in tribute.
Other performers who took to the stage included: Diesel, Paul Kelly, Jimmy Barnes, Mahalia Barnes, Mia Wray, Mark Seymour with Vika and Lynda.
A number of international artists also made appearances in video messages, including: Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Elton John, Sam Smith, Ian Moss, Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age, Joe Walsh from the Eagles, Shawn Mendes, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters.
Sting performed remotely, while Rod Stewart shared stories and joked: “It’s a wonder we didn’t end up in jail!”
Local artists including Dannii Minogue, Daryl Braithwaite, Kate Ceberano, Kasey Chambers, Missy Higgins and Amy Shark also shared their memories of the music industry icon.
Michael’s daughter Kate Gudinski and Rabbi Menachem Wolf also spoke at the ceremony before Jimmy Barnes closed out the celebrations.
Barnes returned to the stage with all the other performers from the evening and got the crowd up on their feet, saying: “Michael loved to rock, let’s rock!”
Although, it was Gudinski who had the last word as his voiceover from previous concerts was played to the crowd.
Melbourne radio broadcaster Lee Simon, who hosted the memorial, also reflected on where the event was being held, saying: “It’s no small irony the first concert back here at Rod Laver Arena in so long is in honour of Michael.”
The memorial started at 7:07pm, which was both in reference to Gudinski’s interest in numerology as well as his favourite wine, Penfolds Bin 707.
Ahead of the event, the record industry revealed they would honour him by renaming an ARIA award in his honour — Best Breakthrough Artist will now be known as The Michael Gudinski Breakthrough Artist ARIA Award.
Gudinski, a renowned music promoter and record label founder, died suddenly, aged 68, earlier this month.
Gudinski founded the Mushroom Group in 1972 at just 20 years old, which flourished into Australia’s largest independent entertainment group covering touring, record labels, publishing, merchandising, booking agencies, film and television production and creative services.
The record label founder was laid to rest at a private funeral at Ormond Hall in Melbourne earlier this month, the venue he first staged live shows in the 1970s.
Celebrities including the likes of Kylie and Dannii Minogue, Molly Meldrum, Jimmy Barnes and Tina Arena attended the service.