Mark Opitz AM began his career in the 1970s with ABC TV in Sydney, and since then he has gone on to work with many great Australian musicians that have enjoyed national and international chart success in the last three decades. Opitz is to Australia what Don Was is to the U.S. — the go-to guy for mainstream rock and pop production — having worked with nearly every Australian band that has graced the pop charts, including INXS, Cold Chisel, The Divinyls, AC/DC, and Hoodoo Gurus.
When Australia’s pre-eminent production team, Vanda and Young, offered Opitz a position as their apprentice producer, fresh from his job at EMI Music as label manager, he immediately set to working with their staple artists AC/DC, John Paul Young, Flash & The Pan, Rose Tattoo, and more. It was during this period that Opitz was given the job of producing Alberts artist The Angels, and stumbled upon gold in the form of a signature, thick guitar sound that ruled Australia’s early 80s and 90s airwaves.
In the early half of the 1980’s, Warner Music offered Opitz the position as Head of A & R while he was producing the album East for Cold Chisel. Accepting the offer, Opitz went on to sign Billy Field, sign and produce The Divinyls, as well as produce INXS’ classic album, Shabooh Shoobah. In the years to come, Opitz left corporate A & R and entered into a partnership with Rhinoceros Studios. He established his own production company, going on to produce albums for a number of artists, among them: Jimmy Barnes, Cold Chisel, Australian Crawl, Hoodoo Gurus, Richard Clapton, The Models, Noiseworks and The Reels.
In the latter half of the 1980’s, the late Michael Gudinski (Mushroom Group) invited Opitz to join his executive team, his task being to oversee Australian artists’ music projects — as well as production duties with artists such as Paul Kelly, Hunters & Collectors, and Deadstar. This period saw Opitz working in many facets of the industry, notably in producing the highly successful “Mushroom 25th Anniversary” concert, albums, DVD, TV, and radio specials. Opitz garnered critical recognition for his work, winning the industry-voted Australia’s Best Producer Award seven times (two ARIAs and five ABC TV Countdowns).
Glen Campbell awarded for Rhinestone Cowboy by Mark Opitz (1976)
Through the decade, Opitz continued to work extensively with INXS, producing several more albums (Welcome to Wherever You Are; Full Moon, Dirty Hearts) and accompanying them on their international tour as music production advisor. This period also had Opitz based primarily overseas, working with a multitude of international artists, such as Bob Dylan, Lenny Kravitz, Ray Charles, The Beach Boys and many other U.S., European, and Asian artists.
Opitz’s career enjoyed steady success throughout the 2000’s, which saw production work with artists like Kiss, Mental as Anything, Jimmy Barnes, and Bad//Dreems. In 2012, Random House published the critically acclaimed “Sophisto-Punk”, a biography of Opitz’s life and his contribution to the music industry, as written by Luke Wallis and Jeff Jenkins. The following year, Opitz produced the very successful INXS television bio-picture “Never Tear Us Apart”, before travelling to France to produce for the Parisian act Jesus Volt. He returned to France in 2015 to record another album with the band in the Loire Valley.
Mark Opitz in the studio
In 2018, Opitz was awarded the HC Coombs Creative Arts Fellowship by the Australian National University, in recognition of his immeasurable impact on Australian music. Sharing his experience and expertise, Opitz guest lectured for music recording courses at the ANU, and was a recordist and key facilitator in an innovative research project entitled ‘Performance in the Studio’, which offered audiences rare insight into the recording process.
The following year, Opitz appeared on ABC’s ARIA award-winning television series, The Recording Studio, as a host music producer. During this time, he also produced albums for Guiltfilter, The Casanovas and Rose Tattoo, amongst other projects. In 2020, Opitz was named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his service to the performing arts, particularly in the field of music production.
Currently Mark Opitz is a full voting member in all categories of The Grammy Awards, and is a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University.