Long before Mark Holden was an Australian Idol judge, he was a chart-topping 70s singer-songwriter who would gift girls in the Countdown audience red carnations while wearing a pristine white suit.
Now 63, these days the suit’s more likely to be dark pinstripes as Holden, a barrister, finally practices law over 40 years after walking away from his degree before his final-year exams.
“I’d really like to thank 21-year-old Mark for dropping out,” Holden tells The New Daily.
“I’m grateful he took the chance, signed a record deal and became a musician. It’s a great privilege to be a barrister, but it would have been such a loss to have not had the 40 years of music that I’ve had.”
As detailed in his new memoir My Idol Years, Holden threw himself back into law in 2007 after the trauma of being unexpectedly sacked from Australian Idol a year after the return of Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson, whom Holden holds personally responsible.
“I wanted to restore my self-worth really, because being fired from Idol had been humiliating,” he says. “I just didn’t want to lick my wounds and go and hide. I wanted to reinvent myself.”
It was actually third time lucky, having put a second attempt on hold after donning his producer’s cap and the huge success of protégé Vanessa Amorosi.
I’m just another grey old man in a suit.
Despite his high profile, Holden says he’s rarely celebrity-spotted in court. “I’ve had a couple of conversations with judges about it, but mainly I’m just another grey old man in a suit.”
Even public outrage over his bizarre appearance as Bobo the Clown on Dancing with the Stars failed to raise colleagues’ eyebrows.
“One of my fellow barristers saw me coming into the chambers and said, ‘Holden, they just don’t understand barristers’.” Holden cackles. “We tend to be individuals.”
My Idol Years upset his old friend David Hasselhoff, whom he met during the American star’s Baywatch days while he was living in Los Angeles, because of its honest discussion of both their struggles with addiction.
“He saw it as me doing a tell-all,” Holden says. “I’m pretty honest about all that, and I felt David’s problems were pretty well known. I hope I can get him a copy so he can see it’s from a loving point of view, and I know he’s beaten it.”
These days happiness is traveling the world listening to music. He’s just released an EP with sibling Craig under the name Brother 2 Brother that includes the song, ‘Mr Berlusconi’, taking swipes at the former Italian Prime Minister, Putin and Trump.
“Life’s good,” Holden says. “The bummer is that you’re old and you’re going to be dead soon, but the upside of it is that you can pretty much do what you want at this point in life. Not that I haven’t done exactly that at every point in my life, to be honest.”
My Idol Years by Mark Holden is out now from Transit Lounge. Grab a copy here.