News March 17, 2020

‘Words can’t describe our sadness’: RIP Pete Lusty

‘Words can’t describe our sadness’: RIP Pete Lusty

The Australian music industry has lost one of its best.

Pete Lusty, founder of indie label Ivy League Records and manager of The Vines, Jet and Empire of the Sun, lost his battle with cancer over the weekend.

Ivy League was a joint venture between Lusty’s management company Winterman & Goldstein with partners Andy Cassell and Andy Kelly, and Michael Gudinski’s Mushroom Group.

A pioneering label, the roster has released hit records from The Rubens, Cloud Control, Bad//Dreems, Alpine, Josh Pyke, Youth Group, The Vines, Bad//Dreems and Lanie Lane.

Ivy League sent the following statement to TMN:

Over the weekend just past, we lost our dear friend and Ivy League and Winterman & Goldstein founding father, Pete Lusty to cancer. Words can’t describe our sadness. It’s a loss that resonates throughout every single member of our Ivy League family – artists, staff past and present, friends, family, and fellow travellers. We just need to get it out right now: we love him so much. There is a hole in all of our lives that we will never, ever be able to fill.

To say that Pete was a true original dramatically understates the case. He was a maverick, a unique unit, a radical thinker. He came hurtling into our lives as a sharp-dressed, exotically handsome rock and roller with a jet-black quiff and pegged pants, playing with the John Reed Club (Ivy League’s first-ever release, a seven inch). He loved music, and he loved bringing people along with him, dragging them up to his level of ambition. No-one ever made wanting to succeed so hilarious, or fun. He was driven to be the best and wanted everyone in his orbit to want the same. It came with no sense of ego; it was all about belief. If Pete believed in you, you desperately wanted to live up to that belief. Every single band and person he worked with felt it. He gave people musical careers that without his involvement seem impossible to imagine.

As well as running Ivy League Records, Pete also managed bands – big bands who had major international success. The Vines, Jet, Empire of the Sun and so many more. He signed and worked with some of Ivy League’s most successful and critically lauded acts. For someone who had achieved so much success, he had no interest in self-promotion. He never had a social media account, and he never spoke at any music conference. His view was that he just wanted to do the work, help his artists be the very best they could be and enjoy it. He lived and breathed music and the friendships that came with them. He was constantly thinking, constantly working, constantly solving problems, constantly giving encouragement. There was no line between work and his personal life, in the most positive sense. He just loved it.

Pete was hilarious, although it usually took roughly five years of knowing him to work out that he was joking most of the time. His sense of humour had more layers than a tiramisu, and every joke was delivered totally deadpan. There were times when trying to unravel all the levels to his gags was too much for even his closest friends. The best approach with Pete was to generally accept that most of what he said sat somewhere on the joke spectrum and wait to be proved otherwise.

Pete was a master strategist with a genius intellect and an uncanny ability to read the state of play and predict the future. He was always in control. A thinker, a doer, a finisher, a winner. He was disarmingly frank. He was the epitome of ‘cool’. A puzzle to the unacquainted – an open book to those who knew him. Loyal and generous. Thoughtful and surprisingly transparent. Reliable, but never punctual. Ridiculously funny, audaciously irreverent. Shameless. A serial prankster. A cunning genius. Sharp as a tack. A hilarious beautiful mind. Pete was a great human and a dear, dear friend.

For all of the above, the project Pete was most passionate about was his family. We want to extend our love and sympathy to his wife Georgia and their two beautiful children, Tom and Kitty, as well his extended family.

So many friends have been in touch in the past 24 hours saying how much Pete meant to them, and how he changed their lives. As his friends and partners, we knew how much impact he had, not least on all of us in the Ivy League family over the past 23 years. It’s become apparent that his reach goes far beyond what we could ever have imagined. We are all so lucky to have known him, because there will never be another Peter James Lusty.

We love you Pete.

Mushroom Group have also created a Spotify playlist of songs he helped create, which perfectly captures Lusty’s enormous musical footprint and contribution to contemporary Australian music.

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