It’s hard to believe that next month it will be twenty years since the day we lost one of our greatest and most enigmatic singers, Marc Hunter. Marc was truly a shining star on the Australian music scene; whether as lead singer of Dragon or as a solo artist, he could hold an audience in the palm of his hand. His untimely passing on 17th July 1998 left a massive hole in the hearts of music fans but his spirit lives on in his incredible body of work. And that is the basis of the show ‘Communication’, created by Marc’s friend Alex Baudo, to honour Marc’s musical legacy.
“It was around about this time that I was with Marc and his wife Wendy in Italy, around twenty years ago,” recalls Alex “It almost seems to me that it was only a couple of months ago. It’s just surreal. Time goes by so fast for everybody. It was February or March twenty years ago that we did some benefit shows; there was one in Melbourne and one in Sydney. It all happened so quickly, about four or five months. Time flies. I think it’s appropriate to do this. I’ve been doing these shows five years now and so I was little bit against it at first but then I was sort of talked into it and I thought that it would be appropriate to do it especially being twenty years.”
It was five years ago, on the fifteenth anniversary of Marc’s death, that Alex put together the first of these shows at the Gershwin Room in Melbourne. “That was very successful, so we kept on going with various line-ups over the years and of course we recorded the album Communication around the show. Every show I do, I always add a couple of things a little different to previous shows. Marc’s solo works, all five albums, have been released digitally through Universal Music so we’re going to be doing quite a bit of that and, of course, all the greats from the Dragon period that Marc co-wrote and sang on. We’ve also got to remember that a lot of these songs that Marc sang on were actually written by Paul Hewson as well and therefore he’s got a major part in the Dragon success. Songs like ‘Are You Old Enough’ and all those classics were written by Paul Hewson. ‘April Sun’ Was co-written by Paul and Marc together so I’m trying to get as much as I can to fit his performance side but also his song writing side. With his solo records, they were so different. I think the first two or three were fairly pop records, chasing the pop aspect but they were also very different because they had a lot of darkness into the record as well. A lot of songs that Marc wrote, particularly on Big City Talk, there’s a lot of darkness there and a lot of incredible vocal performances and great songs. But then he did an ABC record which was predominantly like a jazz torch record. He covered Cole Porter songs and Ray Charles and Bacharach so we’re going to try and play that side of his body of work as well.”
The show features some great singers, some of whom have worked with Marc but all are fans of his work. “Nichaud Fitzgibbon is a renowned jazz singer around town in her own right. She’s a really big Marc fan anyway and I had no idea. She gave me some suggestions of songs that she wanted to do. Joe Creighton has done some work with Marc Hunter, particularly on the Night and Day record and Roger McLachlan has played for him. I’ve got Mick Pealing on board again because he’s been a part of it throughout the five years, so I really wanted him to be on board with this one as well and he graciously accepted and wanted to do it.” The line-up also includes John Dallimore, Michael Oliphant and Darryn Farrugia. “It’s a really good team and a great melting pot of songs that Marc had and we’re trying to cover all genres.”
As with previous shows, Alex will also be sharing some stories about his friendship with Marc throughout the evening. ‘Communication’ will, he says, “celebrate the man and his music and his soul and I think that’s the aim of the show; just to capture all kinds of music and the essence of the man. Everybody keeps talking about Marc Hunter, the charismatic front man but he was also a really cool character. He had an amazing personality. He could light up a room. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone light up a room as much as he did. It was his persona and when you got to know him, he was a very sweet guy and very softly spoken and well mannered. The Hunter brothers were all big guys but that giant side of Marc came along with his personality as well. He could be extremely generous and kind.”
Reminiscing about his friendship with Marc, Alex recalls a couple of special moments that he says will always stay with him, like the first time he met Marc, at his parent’s house in Melbourne. “I was about fifteen years old. He was having a meeting with my brother for his first solo record and I came down the stairs and there he was sitting on the couch and he just looked at me and he said ‘Hi, I’m Marc. Have you got any pop songs?’ I turned around and said, ‘I think you’re waiting for my brother Ric.’”
And another memory that touched him then and still does to this day. “I’ll always remember when we were in a hotel in Italy. I remember I woke up with a head cold one morning and I was a bit congested and he heard about it and he knocked on my door. This is a guy that had very grave cancer and it was getting worse and worse by the minute. He wasn’t great at all. It was very advanced. And he knocked on my door and he said ‘Heard you got a cold. Are you ok?’ That just blew me away. I’ll never forget that. I thought, ‘this guy’s very special…’”
‘Communication – The Marc Hunter 20th Anniversary Show’ is at the Satellite Lounge in The Village Green Hotel, Mulgrave on Saturday 14th July. Tickets on sale now.
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2018. All rights reserved