Michael Chugg adds a little rock flavour to the Byron Bay Writers Festival.
Michael Chugg adds a little rock flavour to the Byron Bay Writers Festival. Supplied

Michael Chugg at Writers Festival

RECOGNISED equally for his patronage of the Australian music industry and for his wardrobe of Hawaiian shirts, legendary concert promoter Michael Chugg has led a charmed life.

He speaks with Max Quinn about his indulgences.

Chugg seems like the kind of man who could get star struck simply by looking in the mirror.

The 64-year-old has spent the best part of the last 40 years living to excess – his hard-partying reputation overshadowed only by his extraordinary business acumen.

It’s surprising then, that Chugg will tell anybody who will listen that the key to his business castle lies in moderation.

“You have to learn to say no sometimes,” he says, acknowledging the irony in his sentiment.

As he’ll reveal to audiences at the Byron Bay Writers Festival next month, Chugg spent the early stages of his career doing the exact opposite.

His recently released autobiography, Hey You in the Black T-Shirt, dishes the dirt on an extraordinary, but borderline capricious career.

The book places Chugg under a candid spotlight, examining not only his business successes, but also his failures and vices.

Chugg began using cocaine during an exorbitant Fleetwood Mac tour in the late ‘70s, which he surmises to have been a time of intense peer pressure.

“It was extraordinary,” he tells Pulse. “I was somebody who grew up sheltered in Tasmania – I didn’t even smoke a joint until I was about 24.”

Drugs were a habit that Chugg carried through many years in the business, but after a life-altering heart attack in 2002, the mogul claims to have mellowed.

“I don’t touch that stuff anymore,” he says. “People want to live longer these days and I’m having too much fun being alive.”

In 1999, Chugg split with long time business partner Michael Gudinski (of Frontier Touring) to establish his own touring empire, Chugg Entertainment.

Chugg Entertainment has since toured some of the world’s biggest acts including AC/DC, Coldplay and Robbie Williams.

Despite being a success in his own right, Chugg acknowledges there is still significant pressure to compete with Gudinski and other Australian touring agencies. But the balding businessman says this doesn’t always mean taking big risks.

“I went to see Roger Waters do (Pink Floyd’s) The Wall in Toronto in December, and it was full on,” he says. “I saw it in ‘81 in Earls Court, but with the technology available today it was sensational. We put in an offer, and it got to a point where the money was absolutely crazy – so we pulled out.”

Chugg will be joined by musicians Paul Kelly and Brian Cadd. Both Kelly and Cadd published their own autobiographies last year.

“Paul’s book came out pretty much at the same time as mine, and we were turning up at the same places for a little while. He’s a good, kind man. Brian’s book captured the ’60s and ’70s in a way that was really honest and true. It’s so exciting to be on a panel for the Writers Festival. I’ve always heard so much about it and I can’t wait to be up there.”

Michael Chugg is a guest speaker at Byron Bay Writers Festival,  August 5-7 at North Beach, tickets



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