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News April 1, 2024

Michael McMartin, Celebrated Hoodoo Gurus Manager, Dies at 79

Senior Journalist, B2B
Michael McMartin, Celebrated Hoodoo Gurus Manager, Dies at 79

Michael McMartin, the legendary artist manager who guided the Hoodoo Gurus’ career for four decades, died Sunday (March 31) following a years-long cancer battle. He was 79.

The sad news was confirmed by a statement issued on behalf of his family, less than six weeks after he stepped away from managing the Gurus due to “ongoing health issues.”

Despite “the best efforts of his medical team,” reads a statement, “McMartin succumbed to his illness peacefully around noon” on Easter Sunday.

Born March 12, 1945 on Vancouver Island, Canada, McMartin was much-loved by his clients and peers, and recognised as one of the finest in the artists managers in the business.

After relocating to Australia in 1971, he went on to establish Trafalgar Records with Charles Fisher, a studio professional.

Later, in 1982, he spotted and signed the Gurus to their first record deal and took on management duties in 1985, through his company Melody Management. The Gurus were his first clients.

That relationship became the stuff of legend — and many hits — culminating in induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2007. The Gurus’ debut Stoneage Romeos is a stone cold classic, earning a spot in Rolling Stone Australia’s list of 200 greatest Australian albums.

McMartin has been the man of honour on several occasions, receiving APRA’s Ted Albert Award for contribution to Australian music in 2007, the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for “services to the performing arts, especially music” (2015), and he’s the reigning Legacy Award winner at the 2023 AAM Awards, inducted by another great of artist management, John Watson.

Artist management, he told this reporter ahead of the 2023 AAM Awards, is about “problem solving.”

And on working with the Gurus, he was “blessed with having a band who are so creative. So it’s not up to me to go, ‘okay, here’s the next big step’. You know, they do that. I set up a philosophy, I set them up a company, they get wages, I run their company and try to implement what they want to have done. And that’s probably the best way to explain it. And there just aren’t any fields or parameters that aren’t included. It’s all encompassing.”

A private family funeral will be held in the coming days. Later, a public gathering will be held in Sydney to celebrate McMartin’s life and legacy, which will be open to all of his many friends and music industry acquaintances.

McMartin is survived by his wife, Saskia, and his son, Hamish and his extended family, including Michael’s two grandchildren, Kiara and Koby.

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