Books & Literature

Book Review: I’ll Be Gone, by Craig Horne

MEMOIR: Not just the story of an accidental music masterpiece but of a time of unprecedented political and cultural upheaval and promise in Australia.

I’ll Be Gone is very much a specialised biography.

Craig Horne is no stranger to the emerging Melbourne (and, by extension, the greater Australian) music scene. He is the author of two previous books: Roots: How Melbourne Became the Live Music Capital of the World and Daddy Who?

Horne’s latest work is titled I’ll Be Gone – Mike Rudd, Spectrum and How One Song Captured a Generation. The title of the work comes from the 1971 Spectrum hit of the same name.

Mike Rudd is a New Zealand-born musician, who began his musical career alongside future Daddy Cool members Ross Hannaford and Ross Wilson, as part of The Party Machine. A move to Australia, more specifically Melbourne, the heartland of Australia’s emerging musical scene, saw the formation of Spectrum, one of the most recognised progressive rock bands on the scene.

Spectrum would go on to record their signature tune, I’ll Be Gone. It was written, produced and recorded in 1970 and released in 1971. I’ll Be Gone was a song that epitomised the feelings of the nation’s young people, emerging from the 60s and wondering (in the shadow of the Vietnam War) what the future held for them. The song’s lyrics encapsulated the frustration and listlessness that was permeating the counter-culture.

Someday I’ll have money
Someday I’ll have loving
By the time it’s come by, I’ll be gone…

After the end of Spectrum, Rudd went on to form Ariel, a band which would go through multiple incarnations and took Rudd to the UK, a challenging music scene that was the pinnacle of achievement in the eyes of Aussie bands. The international attempt was met with varied responses both from the band’s audiences and the Australian Musical Press.

The first half of the book lives up to its sub-title, with a focus on the emergence of Spectrum and the development and delivery of their signature tune. Rudd’s personal life, which was fraught with difficulty – with a severely autistic son and a Type 1 Diabetic partner, at a time when neither aspect of health was as recognised and cared for as it is today – forms the latter part of the book. This personal challenge would provide heartfelt musical inspiration, for both Mike and his wife, Helen. Even without Helen, Rudd’s musical passion continues to this day.

I’ll Be Gone is very much a specialised biography but a fitting addition to Horne’s “Melbourne Music Trilogy”. It is available, independently or collectively.

Reviewed by Glen Christie

Distributed by: Melbourne Books
Released: November 2020
RRP: $34.95 (or in the Craig Horne Trilogy for $70.99)

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