For more than 70 years, generations of artists, bands, music lovers, myths, memories and moments have embedded a music culture in Melbourne that runs deep.
Post war, Melbourne enjoyed a jazz scene as well as the standard imports of the time – a country and western following and the croon tunes of the USA. In the mid to late ’50s, kids started to pack out cinemas all over town to catch the latest American rock and roll films. And it wasn’t long before local artists, bands, venues and TV and radio hosts began to tune in.
In 1964, the Beatles toured, playing sets at Festival Hall and swaying teenage fans to a more English sound and mod aesthetic. But by the late ’60s and early ’70s, the antiestablishment of US rock became too strong to ignore. Melbourne rock has dished out style and rebellion with equal measure ever since. In 1972, the late Michael Gudinski founded Mushroom Records, which would go on to launch the careers of Skyhooks, Split Enz, Kylie Minogue and countless others, cementing Melbourne’s position as a serious music town. Other Melbourne bands to kick off in the ’70s, to name but a few, were Daddy Cool, the Little River Band and Boys Next Door, who would become the Birthday Party and launch the career of Nick Cave. Still going strong decades later, Nick Cave returns to Melbourne in November for the Always Live festival, which celebrates live music all over Victoria.
The city has also never been short on bands with colourful names, like the Band Who Shot Liberty Valance, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, and Attila and the Panel Beaters.
But this isn’t just a story about the locals. Melbourne has cast its spell on many of the biggest artists in the world. In 1988, Melbourne was where Mick Jagger wanted to cap off solo tour dates with a secret pub gig. News of the set was leaked by local music rag Inpress, 3,000 punters showed up at the Corner Hotel, which only fit a few hundred, and police were called. The street party cleared out all nearby bottle shops of beer and the clean-up lasted well into the wee hours. Melbourne is also where Prince fell in love with the cosy Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, and stopped in for intimate warm-up and afterparty sets during a couple of big stadium tours.