Mike Rudd’s musical journey began when his mother took him to audition for the Christchurch Cathedral choir but that all changed when young Mike heard Little Richard.
'Little Richard was the most subversive voice I'd ever heard. I was just floored by how dangerous it at all sounded.’
Mike and his brother started a band in high school, at first playing folk music, then moving into instrumental rock, inspired by The Shadows. When Beatles mania hit, Mike began singing as well as playing guitar.
‘Once The Beatles happened, everybody had to sing.’
The band managed to secure a residency at a music venue for a couple of years until their lead guitarist, who was AWOL from the Australian Air Force, was ‘taken back by the scruff of the neck’. They followed their guitarist across the ditch, playing for six months as Chants R&B before they ‘imploded from musical differences’.
After a couple of years playing bass with Ross Wilson’s Party Machine, Mike decided it was time to start a band based around his own songs. His debut single for Spectrum,
‘I’ll Be Gone’, became an instant hit.
‘The single was released at the beginning of ‘71 and, in May of that year, it climbed steadily up to be number one,’ Mike says.
‘I think the most exciting moment was hearing it on radio for the first time. We went, “Wow, that's amazing. What's going to happen now?”’
An opportunity followed to record at the famous UK Abbey Road studios, in the same studio that The Beatles had recorded. But Mike’s fondest memory is of scraping together the money and equipment to record an album in West Germany. ‘It sank without a trace, but it was a great experience.’
For the past decade Mike has continued writing and performing, both with Spectrum and as a solo artist, including at the Victorian Seniors Festivals.
‘It’s a bit of a buzz playing to your generation and, every now and again, you get somebody with a furrowed brow — usually a bloke — approaching you after a gig and confessing that they are an accountant and gave away a career in music…the thing is, they are bitter and I'm not.’
Watch Mike's 2020 Victorian Seniors Festival reimagined performance