MILESAGO - Industry

Promoter, agent, manager, 1970s-present

Michael Browning began his career in Melbourne during the mid-1960's. With his childhood friend Anthony Knight and the Knight family, he opened one of Australia's first discotheques Sebastian's Penthouse, located on Beaconsfield Parade, St Kilda Beach. Subsequently relocated to Exhibition St, Melbourne and decked out in classic 'Edwardian Renaissance' style, Sebastians ranked as one of Australia's leading venues of the day, alongside other legendary Melbourne discotheques including The Thumpin Tum and Catcher, at the epicentre of Sixties fashion and music. Customers would come from as far away as Sydney, including famed Sixties fashion designers John and Merivale Hemmes.

Browning's role in running these Melbourne clubs, which also took in the Knights' other major venue, Berties at No. 1 Spring St, was to book the bands. This led him to establish his own booking agency called Australian Entertainment Exchange, which represented the some of the top Melbourne 'underground' rock bands. This in turn led him into artist management and a string of successful management deals with acts including Python Lee Jackson, Doug Parkinson In Focus and Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs.

In the early Seventies Browning partnered with Michael Gudinski to form the top booking agency of the day, Consolidated Rock. It became the first national agency when it took over Phillip Jacobsen's Let It Be agency, which handled two of the top bands of the day, Daddy Cool and Spectrum. ConRock soon developed a stranglehold over bookings on the Melbourne club/pub scene and even the biography on Browning's 301 Records corporate site admits that ConRock's monopoly would, by today’s standards, be considered illegal. Consolidated Rock also gave both promoter Michael Chugg and former roadie and now internationally famous manager Roger Davies their start in the music industry as bookers for the agency. Consolidated Rock folded in 1973 after it was "financially drained" (i.e. sent broke) by Gudinski and Browning's attempt to set up "a credible 'Rolling Stone' type weekly publication", The Daily Planet, the shortlived rival to Phillip Fraser'sGo-Set. Consolidated Rock evolved into what is now the Premier/Harbour Agency and its international tour promotion offshoot, Frontier Touring Co. By this time Gudinski had also established Mushroom Records. Chugg became one of Australia's leading promoters and managers, spending 25 years with Frontier before founding his own company, Michael Chugg Entertainment, in 1999.

After ConRock folded Browning managed Melbourne's Hard Rock Cafe and it was here on 16 October 1974 that he met AC/DC. Only weeks earlier the band had sacked their lead singer Dave Evans and recruited former Valentines vocalist Bon Scott. In November they parted ways with their first manager Dennis Laughlin (the original lead singer in Sherbet, signed Browning as their new manager and relocated to Melbourne. Working in concert with Albert Productions' Ted Albert, Harry Vanda and George Young Young, Browning succeeded in taking AC/DC to great heights in Australia and then established them in the UK and signed them to the international deal with Atlantic Records which eventually broke them worldwide.

In 1979 Browning relinquished his management and AC/DC signed with Peter Mensch of the powerful New York-based Leber and Krebs organization. Browning returned to Australia to establish Deluxe Records and a publishing company, a move prompted by a comment from a friend, Clive Calder, owner of Zomba/Jive Records, who had told him: "Copyrights dont call you in the middle of the night and tell you the truck has broken down!" Deluxe's first signing to the label was Sydney indie trio The Numbers, followed by WA's The Dugites and then INXS. Deluxe released the first two INXS LPs before the group moved to WEA.

Browning spent the first half of the 1980's living and working in Los Angeles. He returned to Sydney in 1987 to manage Noiseworks. He is currently in partnership in the 301 Records label with Tom Misner, owner of the multinational SAE Colleges (School of Audio Engineering) and 301 Studios (Sydney, Byron Bay, Cologne and Stockholm).


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Michael Browning Management - 301 Records

Level 7, 301 Castlereagh St, Sydney 2000, N.S.W. Australia
Ph: 02 9211 7301

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