If he’s not the King then Ian “Molly” Meldrum is undoubtedly the Queen of Australian music. The broadcaster, raconteur, producer, TV presenter, journalist, band manager and passionate music fan has seen and done it all. To celebrate some 50 years in the music industry as well as his upcoming induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame, Music Max have put together a special and biography that celebrates the mirth and madness that is The Molly Meldrum Story.
This two-hour special will soon premiere on Max. The producers of this were fortunate in that they had unprecedented access to the subject as well as Jeff Jenkins, Meldrum’s biographer. This means the story is often told in Molly’s own words and is accompanied by a huge archive of footage, photos and recent interviews that document his periods as the host of Countdown and star of Hey Hey It’s Saturday, among other things. There is a great wealth of fabulous anecdotes and legendary stories about this colourful character, as well as some funny bloopers, which keep things light and joyous.
The list of interviewees is enormous and reads like a who’s who of Australian music. There are music industry heavyweights, Michael Gudinski and Michael “Chuggy” Chugg. There are also artists from the Countdown period including: John Paul Young, Todd Hunter (Dragon), Brian Mannix (Uncanny X-Men), Greg Macainsh (Skyhooks), Ross Wilson, Leo Sayer, Marcia Hines and more.
Then there are the younger artists who loved the show and Molly too, like: Kasey Chambers, Paul Dempsey (Something For Kate) and Kram (Spiderbait). There’s also Russell Morris because Molly produced his biggest hit, “The Real Thing” as well as Glenn Wheatley because his band, The Masters Apprentices were produced by the man in the hat. Heck, even people that didn’t benefit from Countdown like Midnight Oil and Mark Seymour even stop by!
The Molly Meldrum story doesn’t descend into pure hagiography which is commendable as Molly is an icon that is loved by lots of different people. This was evident in the outpouring of support that he received after he had a bad accident in 2011.This special doesn’t hold back in revealing Meldrum’s partying ways; his manic and experimental methods for doing things; his melodramatic personality all-round; and even his propensity to have things descend into a bout of fisticuffs. After all, this man was once punched in the head by Jimmy Barnes’ wife, Jane!
The Molly Meldrum Story is insightful, fascinating and a relatable tale of rags-to-riches. From his identity struggles as a teenage Beatles fan to his becoming an accidental critic and TV presenter, this shows that a lot of ground is covered. There is even time to address his obsession with Egyptian paraphernalia and his famous rock star friends (his little black book would be enormous). This special is entertaining, fun and a must-see for any self-respecting music fan. And as the man in the hat would say: “Do yourself a favour!”
Review score: FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The Molly Meldrum story premieres on Music Max on November 27 at 8:30pm.