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December 12, 2022

Stalwart sound engineer Greg Hill reveals cancer battle

As beloved local sound guy Greg Hill deals with a shock diagnosis and ongoing battle with cancer, the Adelaide music community is rallying to support him and his family.

  • Words and pictures: Jason Katsaras

To musicians, bar staff, venue managers and live music industry workers across Adelaide, Greg Hill is known as a friendly face always up for a chat.

Known professionally as Greg Sound, the business he’s run for 28 of the 30 years he’s worked as a sound engineer, Greg has been seen behind the mixing desk at The Exeter, The Crown & Anchor, The Gov, Hotel Metro, the Casino, The Arkaba and Lion Arts Factory, just to name a few.

The musicians Greg has mixed span generations, demographics and genres, and many have come to appreciate his easy-going, patient and kind nature, as well as his strong work ethic.

But Greg has been a less frequent presence at gigs lately, following a diagnosis in June of stage four liver cancer.

The news came following a fall Greg had at his day job as a mechanic.

“I slipped on a patch of oil on a painted floor surface and landed heavily on my right arm,” Greg tells us from within his Surrey Downs home.

“I was then mopping floors and sweeping with my left arm, to a point where I was twisting my back a lot and I had to get a CT scan.”

The doctor noticed Greg had inflamed lymph nodes and sent him for a follow-up MRI, leading to the discovery of a mass around one of Greg’s kidneys.

“I was called out of work and asked to come into the doctor’s office for a chat. I thought it was something to do with my arm, or my shoulder or something,” Greg says. “I got the actual news and it floored us.”

Greg was told he’s likely to have six to 24 months to live.

“It was a massive shock. I was not expecting it. We were trying to figure out what we would do,” he says

Before the diagnosis, Greg was enjoying being able to mix gigs regularly again after years of disruptions due to the pandemic. But because of the heavy medication he’s on to reduce the size of his tumour, Greg hasn’t been able to work. And because he operates as a sole contractor, he has no sick leave to fall back on – despite 30 years of service to the industry.

“I’m a freelance contractor. Word of mouth is how my name gets around. There’s no leave or anything like that available,” he says. “I also hadn’t been at my mechanic job for long enough to accrue enough hours to take leave.”

In June, Arts Minister Andrea Michaels announced a plan to implement a portable long service leave scheme for artists in South Australia in the 2022-23 financial year.

Further clarification on the status of this policy was not provided by deadline.

Greg Hill and his wife Amanda in their Surrey Downs home


One of Greg’s regular gigs was the Semaphore Workers Club, where he’d mix at least two shows a week. When the venue’s management caught wind of his condition, they approached him about organising a fundraiser.

“Their thought was, if you hear about a muso going down with an illness everybody knows about it, but with a sound guy, no one will,” Greg says.

“Without a sound guy, the show can’t go on. It makes a big dent. But nobody knows about it because they’re hidden in the background.

“That’s why we wear black. You run up, you do your thing and go and hide again in the dark, no one knows who you are. Some bands thank the sound guy, but most don’t.”

Semaphore Workers Club hosted ‘A Gig for Greg’ on 19 November, which featured Cal Williams Jr, Stefan Hauk, Jake Daulby, Ben Whittington, Tristan Newsome, Matthew Hill, among others. There were donated prizes raffled off, and the event raised $2000 to assist Greg and his family with medical costs.

Greg was blown away by the turn out and support from the community, and he was glad to see so many old friends and musicians he’d mixed.

“There were a lot of artists I haven’t seen for ages, and then they turned up and it was, like, ‘Wow, I haven’t seen you for 10 years!’” Greg says. “I’m so thankful to the Semaphore Workers Club.”

In the weeks since, Greg has tried to remain busy while dealing with the unpleasant side effects of his medication, which also prohibits him from driving. Though he does hope to get back to working gigs.

“I need to have a source of income that’s not reliant on donations from other people,” he says.

Greg recently attended the Adelaide 500 as a punter and was thrilled to see local bands supporting the likes of Jimmy Barnes and The Killers as part of Music SA’s Bands on Track showcase.

“We had South Australian bands supporting The Killers!” he says. “So I wanted to get down there early and get some footage of them – to tell them they should promote that.

“Oscar The Wild were brilliant, and Bermuda Bay, they were really, really good.”

“See how animated he gets with music,” interjects his wife Amanda, who’s sitting with us at the kitchen table.

As the couple talk about the future, tears begin to flow.

“I’m doing everything I can to save money. We don’t own this house, so I want to make sure Amanda’s got somewhere to stay and doesn’t have to move, because it’s expensive to rent, and we have pets,” Greg says.

“They told me two years, but I’m going to fight it like crazy. I want to get back to gigging, I want to buy this house. I want to have money set up for Amanda so she’s gonna be okay and my kids are going to be okay.”

Another fundraiser for Greg is planned at the Semaphore Workers Club in the coming months. In the meantime, you can donate to Greg’s fundraiser here.

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