Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Australian Rock of Ages: Number 3 – Mike Rudd

Rob Greaves
Rob Greaves
I have been with the Toorak Times since April 2012. I worked as Senior Editor of the Toorak Times until 2023, when I retired. I now work as a special features contributor for both the Toorak Times and Tagg. I've been in the Australian music scene as a musician since 1964, and have worked in radio and TV and newspapers (when they were actually printed on paper) as well as working in the film industry, as the Film Unit manager on Homicide for several years. I also have extensive experience in audio production and editing.

The Life and Time Stories of Australian Musicians, Performance Artists and those who commenced their their contributed to the Australian Music industry from the 1950’s through to the 1970’s. 

Australian Rock of Ages is a series of interviews conducted with artists, entrepreneurs, managers, and those who promoted and contributed to the Australian Music Industry.  All were born in Australia or settled in Australia during the halcyon years of the late 1950’s through to the late 1970’s. 

There will be a different story presented each month.

In this program we feature the story of Mike Rudd.

There are four parts to the program.

It is the fantastic story of the  Life and Times of Baby Boomer,  Mike Rudd.

Born in NZ and Australian adopted, iconic musician Mike Rudd cut his musical teeth in New Zealand before arriving in Australia.

Mike does recollect his early years in Kiwi land, including his time as a young chorister.

australian rock of ages - mike rudd
Mike the Chorister – 2nd from the left

Massive music changes swept through music and society during the 1960’s.  So it was Mike knew that being a musician in a band was where his future lay.

We learn how he made his first guitar.  It wasn’t exactly 100% useable and makes for a great story. Yet with this project, Mike knew he was hooked.

australian rock of ages : mike rudd – part 1
Mike playing at the Christs college annual school dance-with his-home-built guitar and-home built-speaker box.

One of Mikes most sucessful NZ groups was the Chants.

australian rock of ages mike rudd – part 1
Mike in the Chants – circa 1966

In his words, the music he and his NZ band played was really superficial pop. A good learning base but it bought him no creative satisfaction – he needed more!

Mike shares the story of what led him to leaving, what he describes as “the dark cellar” of a rented house.  This resulted in coming to Australia where very quickly his career started to blossom.

It was in Australia where he eventually formed  various groups including the brilliant and much loved Spectrum.

Part 2 finds Mike arriving in Australia in 1966.  Mike quickly hooks up with Ross Wilson, who the time was fronting his group Party Machine.

australian rock of agess : mike rudd – part 2
Mike playing bass in Party Mmachine

Mike shares how he became the groups bass player.

But fate saw the demise of that group when Wilson headed for the UK.  So Mike was forced to form his own group. 

It was now that he connected with Bill Putt, who would become both his closest friend and his music compatriot. It was a relationship that spanned many decades until Bill’s death in 2013.

We also hear how the iconic group Spectrum came into being.

australian rock of ages - mike rudd
Spectrum at the Tum in 1971

In listening to this story Mike shares  how the universally known and loved “I’ll Be Gone”. This was a track set him and Spectrum up for a long career.

Now the changing nature of the music scene in the 1970’s forced Mike to form the spin-off Murtceps. This story is continued on in part 3.

The stories do come thick and fast.  Many gaps in what we know of the history of Mike Rudd, begin to get filled.

Part 3Mike is totally driven by a desire to produce quality music and original music.

We learn more about another of his groups – Ariel.

australian rock of ages - mike rudd
Ariel 1975 with Mike Rudd; John Lee; Harvey James and Bill Putt

In discussing Ariel we learn of the various brilliant musicians that went through its various formations. In fact, there are five known line-ups of the group between 1973 and 1977.

In his desire to push music boundaries Mike write what he calls his rock opera – Jellabad Mutant. This was a great piece of work but fate and the industry would have none of it.

australian rock of ages : mike rudd – part 3
The album cover

Mike shares with us why, in his opinion. it never became the success he had hoped for.

His story includes how the second version of Ariel with Mike and Bill Putt, headed for England in search of success. 

Discover why the recording contract offered to Ariel Version I, was changed after he arrived in the UK with Ariel version II.

This was to Mike’s dismay. In order to get gigs, the band was forced to go back to revisions of Spectrum songs.

Returning to Australia Mike entered into many projects but kept Ariel alive.

australian rock of ages - mike rudd
Ariel 1977: L to R – Bill Putt; Mike Rudd; Tony Slavich; Glyn Mason & Iain McLennan

So many stories which include one about recording at Abbey road studios. This came not all that long after the breakup of the Beatles.

Yet among many highs and lows, there is one event that hit him hardest. That was the death of his long-time friend and musical compatriot, Bill Putt.

australian rock of ages - mike rudd
Mike and Bill

Part 4. Now 50 years after he formed Spectrum, Mike continues to play live. He has many “faces” including a new version of Spectrum.

australian rock of ages - mike rudd
Mike Rudd – 2016

In part 4 he completes his stories of his music and the groups that have been vehicles for that music.

australian rock of ages - mike rudd
Spectrum at the Station Hotel (2011): Mike left & Bill right

In this final part of his story Mike shares some of the thoughts and feelings about contemporary Aussie music.

However Mike is a man who has a broad interest in the world around him. He shares his thoughts on the environment and the state of the world. 

We also learn how he met his current partner, Maria.

rock of ages : mike rudd – part 4
Mike and Maria

There is much to Mike Rudd as his musical career attests. However, it is far from over as indeed, is his story.

 


Mike Rudd – Part 1


Mike Rudd – Part 2


Mike Rudd – Part 3


Mike Rudd – Part 4

 


Previous stories in Australian Rock Of Ages can be found via these links:

Program #1 – Bob Bright: Click here

Program #2 – Normie Rowe: Click here

 


 

Rob Greaves

I have been with the Toorak Times since April 2012. I worked as Senior Editor of the Toorak Times until 2023, when I retired. I now work as a special features contributor for both the Toorak Times and Tagg. I've been in the Australian music scene as a musician since 1964, and have worked in radio and TV and newspapers (when they were actually printed on paper) as well as working in the film industry, as the Film Unit manager on Homicide for several years. I also have extensive experience in audio production and editing.

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