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Andy Portokallis, the man at the heart of our music scene, passes away

The Tote's co-owner was much loved throughout the city's music scene.

Image source: 
Graham Denholm for Time Out Melbourne

Andy Portokallis, co-publican of the iconic Tote in Collingwood, passed away from a terminal illness on Tuesday morning.

As co-owner of the Tote, Portokallis was stationed in the heart of Melbourne's music scene. In 2010, the iconic Tote was getting ready to close its doors for the final time after changes to regulation classed it as a 'high-risk venue'. The weight of new security costs tied to the regulation changes was too much to burden.

During its final days, the Tote was flooded by roughly 5000 people who went for what they thought was the last call. At the time, Portokallis assisted the Tote's previous owners. At one point, he redirected 70 kegs from his very own Bar Open to the Tote in order to satisfy the influx of customers.

Word had spread through social media and rallies were organised to protest the new regulations. As a result of these early stirrings, the Save Live Australia's Music rally saw up to an estimated 20,000 people march through Melbourne's streets. Iconic industry figureheads including Missy Higgins, Molly Meldrum and Brian Nankervis spoke on the day.

The rally was a success and a collective voice was heard. Portokallis, alongside Jon Perring and Sam Crupi, became the new licensee of the Tote and the pub was resurrected three months after it closed. Speaking to Neokosmos, Portokallis said his first memories of the Tote in 1985 were magical.

“You knew then it was a special place... It was rough and ready but it was always about the music, everyone that went there were all about the music,” he said.

On its Facebook page, the Tote spread the word of Andy's passing, describing him as a "loyalist friend: even to a fault. He would always see the good in people over their failings and would always steer and help people on life's journey".

Andy is survived by his partner and four children. A Gofundme campaign raised more than $14,000 to assist the Portokallis family.

 Our love extends to Andy's family during this incredibly difficult time.