The History of Chugg Entertainment
The history of Chugg Entertainment begins in 2000 when, after 25 successful years with Frontier Touring Company (the organisation he co-founded in the mid 1970s), Michael Chugg left to form his own entertainment company: Michael Chugg Entertainment (MCE). In its first year of operation, MCE produced and promoted 19 national tours featuring international artists and 5 national tours featuring Australian artists. Amongst the many successful endeavours of 2000, a highlight for Chugg was co-producing the opening and closing ceremonies of the Paralympic Games in Sydney, with the result being an incredible series of sell-out performances. Chugg was also responsible for coordinating the live entertainment for the athletes in the Olympic Village.
The impact of the company on Australia’s live music industry did not go unnoticed, and MCE was awarded Performance Magazine’s ‘International Promoter of the Year’ in 2000.
The early noughties…
In 2001 MCE continued to expand on the success of its inaugural year, promoting tours by some of the biggest acts in popular music; from MxPx (US) and Fantomas (US) to Bob Dylan (US) and Robbie Williams (UK). The accolades continued to roll in along with the tours, and Michael Chugg was the recipient of Pollstar’s ‘International Promoter of the Year’ award for 2001.
2002 saw several successful tours, from the sold out Elton John (UK) tour to the Red Hot Chili Peppers (US), George Clinton (US), Chris Isaak (US) and No Doubt (US). During this same year Michael Chugg Entertainment, in conjunction with Billy Thorpe and Amanda Pelman, was responsible for creating the Long Way To The Top stage show based on the record-breaking television documentary of the same name. With 28 of Australia’s brightest stars from the 50s, 60s and 70s, Long Way To The Top played to nearly a quarter-of-a-million Australians and was hailed as one of the biggest tours of the year as well as becoming a multi-platinum DVD and CD.
2002 also marked the return of the internationally renowned Vans Warped Tour, featuring acts such as Pennywise (US), Guttermouth (US), MxPx (US), The Vandals (US) and many more across three stages.
To top off an already spectacular year for the company, the Australian Live Music Awards named MCE the ‘Best Promoter of the Year’ for the second consecutive year.
Throughout the remainder of 2002 and into 2003 MCE presented tours by a veritable ‘who’s who’ of popular music: Ray Charles (US); Carlos Santana (US); The Dixie Chicks (US); LeAnn Rimes (US); Keith Urban (Aus); Tina Arena (Aus), Sum 41 (Can), Eels (US); John Mayer (US); Coldplay (UK); A Perfect Circle (US); The Offspring (US); Radiohead (UK); Gomez (UK); and The Who (UK) all kept Australian audiences enthralled.
From 2003 to 2005, MCE also staged the successful Melbourne International Music and Blues Festival, held on the banks of the Yarra River in the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre and adjoining parklands, with 3 days of non-stop world class music and entertainment. Acts on the bill included Ray Charles (US) Bob Dyan (US), Wilson Picket (US), Vanessa Amorosi (Aus), Beth Orton (UK), Tony Joe White (US) and John Mayall (UK) among many others.
In 2004 and 2005 MCE continued to go from strength to strength with the first ever Australian Idol live tours, Damien Rice (Ire), Rufus Wainwright (Can), The Doors of the 21st Century (US), Bright Eyes (US), Mark Knopfler (UK) and R.E.M. (US), along with revisits from favourites such as Gomez (UK) and Australian darlings Tina Arena and Keith Urban.
Chugg Entertainment in 2005
2005 saw some major achievements for MCE, including the phenomenal charity event Wave Aid. Along with promoters Joe Segreto and Mark Pope, Chugg helped to stage one of the greatest music events the country had ever seen. Wave Aid brought together some of Australia’s best artists including The John Butler Trio, Missy Higgins, The Finn Brothers, Silverchair, Powderfinger and a re-formed Midnight Oil. Held at the SCG on January 29th 2005, Wave Aid played to 50,000 people and raised over $2.3 Million dollars for the victims of the Boxing Day tsunami.
2005 also saw Michael Chugg Entertainment follow some exciting new paths, including becoming one of the major partners in the East Coast International Blues and Roots Music Festival. MCE’s involvement helped to make the 2005, 5-day Bluesfest a complete sell-out: which at that stage was the most successful festival in the event’s 16-year history.
At the 2005 Helpmann Awards, the East Coast International Blues and Roots Music Festival picked up the award for Best Festival. At the same awards night, Michael Chugg, along with Gary Van Egmond, received the award for Tour Of The Year for the highly successful Bette Midler “Kiss My Brass” spectacular which saw the Devine Miss M fill 10 arenas around the country.
Later in the year a new partnership with Backrow Productions (UK) tied Michael Chugg Entertainment to the hugely successful 10th Anniversary production of Dein Perry’s Tap Dogs, and the relationship has opened the door to many exciting theatre opportunities.
Towards the end of 2005, having proven itself as an industry stalwart both internationally and locally, Michael Chugg Entertainment took another exciting turn with a rebranding exercise. With a name so prominent and recognisable in the industry, the company relaunched to become Chugg Entertainment.
An outstanding reputation
2006was a massive year for the company, with sell out shows for Jason Mraz (US), Korn (US), Sigur Ros (Iceland), Yellowcard (US) and once again seeing the East Coast International Blues and Roots Music Festival completely sell out. Further expanding Chugg Entertainment’s interest in promoting festivals, March saw a new partnership with Lunatic Entertainment when a small patch of Sydney’s CBD was transformed into a street party for indie music lovers, heralding Sydney’s first ever St Jeromes Laneway Festival. The unique event featured a prestigious line up of international artists including Broken Social Scene (Can), Les Savy Fav (US) and The Posies (US) as well as local acts Faker and The Avalanches.
In addition, Coldplay’s mid-year tour saw 120,000 people snap up tickets to 10 sell-out arenas as well as setting a new attendance record of 12,490 at the Sydney Entertainment Centre.
In early March, Michael Chugg was awarded ‘Promoter of the Year’ at the International Live Music Conference awards in London. June too was a big month with Michael receiving the Gentleman Jack award at the 3rd Annual Jack Awards for his service to live music in Australia. In addition to this, at the 26th Golden Stave lunch, Michael was awarded the Nordoff Robins award in recognition of his outstanding achievements, contributions to the music industry and his charity work.
Building on an already outstanding reputation of producing quality events, in June, Chugg Entertainment announced the Robbie Williams tour for December 2006 and sold out an amazing 9 stadium shows nationwide just hours after releasing tickets.
Furthering the company’s involvement in live theatre, Chugg Entertainment (in conjunction with Backrow Productions) were involved with the highly anticipated production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – The Musical which premiered worldwide in Sydney in October.
Chugg Entertainment closed 2006 in an even grander fashion with almost 500,000 Australians attending the Robbie Williams sell-out tour across the country, and almost 100,000 attending the Elton John ‘Captain and the Kid’ national tour.