Molly Meldrum unveils statue, gets inducted into The Age Music Victoria Awards Hall of Fame
It was a busy day yesterday for Ian “Molly” Meldrum.
First, the 75-year-old unveiled his own 1.8-metre bronze statue, set in the Wangaratta Street Park in his home suburb of Richmond in Melbourne.
Then he was inducted into The Age Music Victoria Awards Hall of Fame.
The statue unveiling drew a huge crowd and as more than one speaker noted, they represented a wide range of backgrounds in which Meldrum had made his mark.
There were artists, journalists, record producers, label executives, nightclub operators, Countdown fans, high society philanthropists, sports elite, queer activists, First Nation folk and politicians (he was approached during the Countdown era by a number of political parties to stand for election, hoping to tap into his large youth appeal).
“He’s opened the door for so many others to follow through,” said City of Yarra mayor Daniel Nguyen.
The City of Yarra was one of those who initiated the idea of the statue, alongside artist and sports manager Ralph Carr who crowd-funded to get the structure created by sculptor Louis Lauman.
A number of record companies and promoters contributed as a thank you for his support through the years.
Mushroom’s Michael Gudinski, who flew back from a US business trip to attend (“Molly has a heart of gold… on some days”) enthused about how the passion Meldrum showed for setting up the Music Vault memorabilia exhibit (“it had to be free and it had to be in Melbourne”) has been a major tourist attraction with 500,000 visitors in the first six months.
Minister of creative industries, Martin Foley, announced $500,000 worth of new grants from the state government’s $22.2 million Music Works and of Meldrum’s contribution to the buoyancy of the scene.
The Meldrum statue came from a government initiative, as was the new Wall of Music mural in the same park, by artist 23rd Key depicting music fans rocking out at the Corner Hotel, which is behind the park.
Eddie McGuire, who recalled the days when he and his mates crawled underage via back windows into pubs where Molly was DJing and couldn’t believe a TV star was so approachable, emphasised that Meldrum’s passion for sports also made its mark.
The statue would cast its shadows to remind people of the Meldrum legacy, he said, “but you have cast a shadow so long on this community for so many years.”
Before he unveiled his statue, Meldrum admitted he was apprehensive… and initially refused.
“I’m lying in bed and I’m thinking ‘How can I get out of this one?’”
He thought one way would be to insist his pet dog Ziggy had to be depicted held in his arms.
“I could barely believe it when they came back and said it’s going to happen.”
The statue features the Maltese Shih Tzu-cross while his owner, decked in a St. Kilda team scarf and music T-shirt and that hat, has an irascible grin and giving the “do yourself a favour” thumbs up.
After the unveiling came the hall of fame induction, by longtime friend Colleen Hewitt, for whom Meldrum produced her 1971 gold single Day By Day.
“Nobody deserves this honour more than you and I want to thank you for everything you did for me, and for many others,” Hewett said.
Music Victoria chief executive Patrick Donovan commented: “Molly is always generous in his praise for other inductees when we honour them.
“It’s a great privilege to induct Molly into our Hall of Fame, where his name will now be listed with so many artists he has championed.”