Stevie Wright R.I.P.: The Easybeat who walked a Hard Road

BY DANGER COOLIDGE

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The death of Stevie Wright overnight is not a major shock – he was 68 and he’s looked like shit for a long time. But it still feels like I’ve lost something big.

Stevie was before my time, probably before yours, too. I’m too young to have experienced ‘Easy Fever’ or the “Evie” era at its peak, but the music of The Easybeats and Stevie Wright were staples in our house even in the eighties.

I’ve never stopped listening to The Easybeats. The first eight singles from 1965-66 are virtually all killers, reaching a peak with the one-two punch of “Sorry” and “Friday on my Mind”.

Of course, Harry Vanda and George Young did plenty of the spadework, but they couldn’t have carried it off without their starry-eyed pixie-sized frontman. Stevie had the look, the voice, the moves, the charisma. He basically perfected the art of frontman-ery at the time and threw down the gauntlet (it’s because of Stevie we ended up getting someone as rough and rambunctious as Bon Scott).

We all want to remember that Stevie, the cheeky young kid who’d wail the house down and give the TV cameras a wink mid-song. But it’s important to also remember Stevie the fallen star, Stevie the comeback king, Stevie the utterly tough bastard. He was a warrior; it’s just a shame he got so many chances to show it.

His troubles later with drugs and drink and ‘deep sleep’ treatments at the notorious Chelmsford, subsequent liver and kidney problems, and diabetes, resigned him to a life he didn’t deserve. I would’ve liked to walk a mile in his shoes to try to better understand how things went so wrong for him. Whether I would have survived it is another thing.

Farewell, Stevie. You will fill a big hole in the ground but will leave an infinitely bigger one in our hearts.

 

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