TRIBUTES are flowing for Australian rock legend and Eurobodalla resident Stevie Wright, who passed away in Moruya Hospital on Sunday night aged 68.
Catalina’s Peter Rich played gigs in Sydney with the Gin House Blues, with Wright on the bill, and remembers him as a “good guy who was always full of yarns.”
“”He was a survivor, professionally and personally,” he said.
“Stevie was part of a rock and roll lineage which paved the way for international success for Australian acts.”
Wright came to Australia when he was nine and was just 16 when he, Harry Vanda, George Young, Dick Diamonde and Snowy Fleet formed the Easybeats, one of Australia’s most popular bands.
Their smash hit Friday on My Mind was voted the best Australian song of all time by APRA in 2001, and named number one on Channel 9’s 20 to 1 program’s list of greatest ever Australian songs.
“Friday on My Mind cracked it in Europe and America, and Harry Vanda and George Young (the brother of AC/DC’s Malcolm and Angus Young) produced early songs and albums for AC/DC, the first Australian band to really crack the international market,” Mr Rich said.
“Stevie was a natural stage performer; nothing ever seemed to be an effort for him, and he was very professional
Wright suffered from heroin addiction after being introduced to it while starring in the play Jesus Christ Superstar in 1972.
“Anybody could fall into the pit of drug abuse, and the price he paid was quite high,” Mr Rich said.
Part of that price was undergoing one of the most notorious treatments in Australian medical history, ‘deep sleep therapy’ at Chelmsford Hospital, which deeply affected him psychologically.
Moruya’s Tony Jaggers was a fan of Wright’s who became a close friend.
“It knocked me for six when I head the news,” he said.
“I had been concerned about his condition and had been in contact with his record company.
“I visited him at home and I sat with him a lot at Moruya Hospital.”
Wright was the main inspiration for Mr Jaggers as a young musician and he got the chance to jam with him and other Easybeats members in 1969.
“It was in Armidale when they were touring and a gig had been cancelled,” he said.
He renewed his friendship with him in the Eurobodalla.
“Beacause I had been a musician back then it was great to have someone like to to talk about ‘60s music,” he said.
He believes that the media had little understanding of his circumstances, and focus on his problems rather than his achievements.
“Stevie was a star when he was 16; everyone looked after him and idolised him,” he said.
“For that to happen at an early age must have affected him.”
Mr Jaggers found Wright to be just as impressive a human being as an artist.
“Underneath he was a really witty and generous person,” he said.