Here's What You Missed From The Renée Geyer Memorial

5 April 2023 | 9:00 am | Mary Varvaris

The four-hour-long memorial contained speeches and performances, all delivered with respect.

(Source: Supplied)

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The public memorial for Renée Geyer took place at the National Theatre in St Kilda last night, commemorating the life of an Australian music legend.

The four-hour-long memorial contained speeches and performances, all delivered with respect. Geyer’s manager read out speeches by Matt Gudinski, CEO at the Mushroom Group, the Sydney Morning Herald journalist and author Bruce Elder, Marcia Hines, Daryl Braithwaite, Jackson Browne, and music writer Toby Creswell

In the video tributes, Bryan Brown made a speech packed with humour and love; Bonnie Raitt sent her “love and appreciation for Renée,” while Colin Hay talked about her ability to front a band.

TV presenter Richard Wilkins took the stage about two and a half hours in, mentioning being “totally blown away” by her talents before introducing Kevin Borich and his band for a performance. 

Russell Morris appeared next with stories about his friend and performed in her honour. The star-studded shows continued, with Paul Kelly telling stories and picking up the guitar, of course. 

Wilkins then introduced Ross Wilson, who “listened to the same records” as Geyer. Abbey Stone, who once had “the hard job of opening for Renée Geyer”, showed why that was the right call in a stunning soul performance. Another music legend, Deborah Conway, brought a classy blues energy to the stage. The final star, Kate Ceberano, kept the party going with all the special guest singers joining her on stage at the end of the tribute.

Geyer passed away in January at the age of 69, peacefully surrounded by family and friends from complications following hip surgery. While in the hospital, it was discovered that she also had inoperable lung cancer.

Renée Rebecca Geyer was born in Melbourne in 1953, the youngest of three children to Edward and Ella, who met in Palestine after World War II. Ella, a Holocaust survivor, was from Slovakia; Edward was from Hungary.

Renée described herself as “a white Hungarian Jew from Australia sounding like a 65-year-old black man from Alabama”.

“I’m lucky I was born with an old voice,” she said.

Renée also sang on records by countless artists, including Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Neil Diamond, Joe Cocker, Julio Iglesias, Chaka Khan, Sting, Men At Work, Ian McLagan, Cold Chisel, Jimmy Barnes, Paul Kelly, Stephen Cummings, Dragon, Sérgio Mendes, Even, Toni Childs, Hoodoo Gurus, TZU and Russell Morris. Read the rest of The Music's Jeff Jenkins' obituary for the iconic singer here.

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