News December 20, 2018

Aus music press pioneer & TMN co-founder Anthony O’Grady passes away

Aus music press pioneer & TMN co-founder Anthony O’Grady passes away
Anthony O’Grady (right) with the late Andrew McMillan (photo by Greg Taylor)

Anthony O’Grady, the highly influential co-founder of The Music Network and Rock Australian Magazine (RAM), has passed after a series of medical complications in Sydney.

He was 71.

After a brief dalliance with ad copywriting, O’Grady emerged writing for Go-Set and Soundblast.

He edited the large format glossy Ear For Music which lasted for three issues before being offered the finances to set up RAM in 1975.

This was a boom time for Australian music, with the coming of Countdown, 2JJ, Sydney pub rock and, later, punk and new wave.

RAM syndicated material from NME and Melody Maker and O’Grady was insistent that its Australian content should also reflect their high quality free-form New Journalism.

He brought in counter-culture writers Jen Jewel Brown and Peter Olszewski, as well as whole new generation of writers-on-a-mission including Andrew McMillan, Annie Burton, Richard Guilliatt and Greg Taylor.

Stuart Coupe, who was freelancing for Adelaide’s Roadrunner, had made some bravado quips in print about how it was ready to take on RAM when O’Grady called.

“Dear boy, how would you like to come to Sydney and work for a real music magazine?”

O’Grady arranged with The Angels’ road crew to transport Coupe and worldly possession to Sydney in their truck.

Coupe states, “AOG inspired and taught a generation of Australian music writers their craft.

“He was a tough, demanding editor which I grew to thank him for in hindsight – not at the time!

“He was also an incredible music fan, writing with passion about his loves –  be it Skyhooks, Dragon, Radio Birdman, Roxy Music or any number of others favourites.

“He’ll be very much missed by not only the writers he nurtured but by the legions of readers who also had their lives changed by O’Grady and RAM magazine.”

O’Grady left RAM in 1981 after a disagreement with its business managers over its direction.

An avid golfer, he lived around NSW with his wife, wrote for The Bulletin, assembled the first rock music soundtrack to win an Australian Film Institute award (for Street Hero in 1985), did radio specials, and edited retail chain Brashs’ in-store giveaway mag.

In 1994, he along with artist managers/music publishers John Woodruff and Keith Welsh set up The Music Network, initially as a print-only tip sheet for the radio and music industries.

He soon got to wandering again, only returning to writing the Cold Chisel book Pure Stuff (2001) and comprehensive sleeve notes for Dave Laing’s critically acclaimed Australian rock compilations.

Phil Tripp, the ANZ/Hawaii representative for South by Southwest, was another RAM writer who regards O’Grady as a mentor.

The two became good friends when Tripp began working with Divinyls manager Vince Lovegrove, and more so during The Music Network days.

“Our friendship kicked to a higher level then,” Tripp recounts.

“He was always encouraging in a curmudgeonly way with a rapier wit and deep wisdom.

“In the past decade, he and I were in regular phone contact, usually on the speakerphone as I was driving to or from Sydney, often for an hour or more.

“He had suffered through medical issues but was as upbeat and hilarious as ever.”

In recent times, O’Grady had a kidney transplant and bouts with cancer. After a fall, he ended his days in hospital.

Don Walker, Red Symons and manager John Watson were among those who rang or sent messages.

Related articles