"Anthony O’Grady, who died on December 19, was the Godfather. He was the writer/editor/publisher who transformed Australian rock journalism and music magazines, and took it to the next level.
"When he launched RAM in 1975, after leaving the advertising game and having edited the short-lived Ear for Music, one of his stated objectives was that its local content would be on a par with the copy it licensed in from the NME and Melody Maker – and in doing that, the fortnightly (originally-foldover) tabloid became the journal of record for the Australian music scene between the mid-70s and mid-80s.
"AOG fostered a couple of generations of Australia’s best music writers, from Annie Burton through Andrew McMillan and Jen Jewel Brown to Miranda Brown, Stuart Coupe, Greg Taylor, Toby Creswell and many others, including, daresay, yours truly.
"He left the magazine in 1981 to concentrate on his golf game and other endeavors, including having a family; through subsequent editors Greg Taylor and then Phil Stafford, RAM maintained a pre-eminence that was really only undermined by the rise of the free street press in the mid-80s; it eventually folded in 1989, one of a number of markers of the end of an era.
"Anthony enjoyed continued success in the 80s working in film, TV and radio, winning an AFI Award in 1985 for his supervision of the soundtrack for Street Hero. In 1994, after working as editor of the in-house magazine for the Brash's chain of music stores, he was a co-founder of the influential industry tip-sheet The Music Network. In 2001, he published his one and only book, The Pure Stuff, about Cold Chisel’s 1998 reformation; it’s just a shame he didn’t do more such long-form writing – but then maybe his gift as much as anything was spotting and nurturing talent in others.
"I've often been asked how Anthony helped me develop as a writer, but by the time I arrived at RAM, at the start of 1980, he was more the Editor-at-Large of the magazine, and no longer so hands-on in the production process. He was, well, the Godfather, as the mast-head sometimes read, and it was merely his nod, the faith he put in me, that gave me the belief that I could do it. And I did, even as much as at first I must have tested everybody's patience, because, well, I really couldn't write...
"Anthony was a gentleman of almost the old school: erudite, opinionated, warm and modest. He had been ill for some time – had a kidney transplanted – but I was pleased to have kept in touch and I saw him, for a feed or a drink, on numerous occasions in recent times. When he died, in his hometown of Sydney, aged 71, from a complication in his treatment, the outpouring of affection and admiration was appropriately enormous."
THOSE WORDS were what I wrote that rock'sbackpages.com published as per the graphic above, but since you'd need to be a subscriber to access them there, that's why I've reprinted them here. There's a few other tributes elsewhere online, but best I think, if you can access RBP, just to read some of his great old stuff; that there is not an anthology of his 'greatest hits' available is something of a travesty I reckon, but then Anthony himself, even in his last days, was cantankerously resistant to such retrospectivity. His funeral was low-key but it was great to see again some of the old mob, as the below photo shows. I love the video further below too, a 1977 story on RAM (also featuring Philip Mason, Soundtracks' publisher) from the ABC-TV afternoon kids' show Flashez. Another YouTube video that's notable beyond just Anthony's involvement is a 1973 episode of the ABC show Monday Conference, in which a panel of youth/rock experts quiz Frank Zappa, then on tour in Australia, and you can see that one, in full and in beautiful B&W, here. Go Goldilocks!