Stevie Wright

by Mark Gibson on August 6, 2005

in Musicians - W, Roadie Stories

Post image for Stevie Wright

I was blown away last night to see Stevie Wright on This Is Your Life. During the late Eighties I worked for a while as Stevies live sound engineer, alongside my brother Brett on monitors and My Pal Brian ™ on lights, and I have wonderful memories of some great gigs as well as some downright strange ones.

He was (I think) still on the needle in those days and was very definitley on the turps in a big way and was quite a handful. Even so, he was still very much a household name and drew decent crowds. The band, Hard Road, consisted of Peter Northcote (sax, keys, guitar), Bruno Renzella (guitar), Vic Young (bass) and Paul DeMarco (drums) and one or two others who slip my mind.
They were outstanding in both musical ability and counselling skills. It was a major effort sometimes just to get Stevie onto the stage in a reasonable condition to perform and the guys showed endless patience(usually!).

The guys started picking him up quite early in the day to get him to the gig before he got too blind. They would then keep him occupied and soberish backstage until show time. This worked for a while until the cunning bugger figured that he could just get the crowd to buy his drinks. “Who’s gunna buy Stevie a Southern Comfort then?” would be the cry. Half a dozen punters would then head to the bar and buy him drinks. The look on the faces of the band was simply priceless. What can you do to help someone who is determined to trash themselves?

Poor old Stevie didn’t have much of a voice left by this stage and it became increasingly difficult to get his voice to sit in the mix at a decent level. Brett had the worst of it as he looked after on-stage sound which was…loud! One night Stevie was having particular trouble hearing himself in the monitors so he decided he would kick them off the front of the stage, as you do. Classic rock ‘n roll tantrum! Anyway, being the professional he is, Brett wanders out from side stage nonchalantly and puts the speakers back on stage. Well, Stevie manages to kick them off again at which point Brett decides to unplug them & remove them. Picture the scene… Band wailing, punters dancing, singer fuming and Brett standing at the front of the stage giving Stevie a right bollocking. Common sense eventually prevailed and the rest of the show went well. During the packup I noticed out of the corner of my eye that one of the band members had Brett bailed up side stage and seemed to be giving him a gobfull. Thinking there could be ill feeling about the incident, I wandered a bit closer just in case and managed to hear words to the effect of: “Why didn’t you hit the bastard? If that had been my gear he kicked, I’d have floored him!” Brett explained that it wouldn’t look good on his resume that he had knocked out Stevie Wright.

Stevie Wright - Friday On My Mind

One day I’ll tell you about the Stevie gig where I had to leave the mixing desk to punch on with some of the crowd! I’ve still got the scar where my tooth went through my mouth just below my bottom lip. I’ll bet the other bloke’s still peeing blood though!

Thanks for the fun times and classic memories Stevie. Stay straight. I hope you find the peace you are looking for.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 JR October 9, 2008 at 3:42 pm

I remember supporting Stevie one night down in the old Lucy’s Tavern (this was when Lucy’s was in Pitt St, before it moved to Castlereagh St) some time in the late 1980’s. (You weren’t doing his sound then, Mark, Russell Grigg was his sound guy). We got to the gig and Stevie’s band’s gear was already set up on the tiny stage, and I was using one of those big Fender Bassman rigs at the time, so Russell told me it would be OK to use Stevie’s bass rig. It was probably the best bass sound I ever had onstage! Anyway, that’s beside the point really. I just wanted to mention that when Stevie came onstage he was absolutely MINDBLOWING! Seriously! This was one of the best gigs I have ever seen. His band was absolutely smoking, and Stevie, once he hits the stage, just seems to have boundless reserves of energy that, if you had seen him half an hour before, you would not believe he had! Like you mentioned mate, his band had their hands full just getting him onstage still in a functioning state most nights! But with Stevie, when the magic happens, it REALLY happens!

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2 me January 5, 2010 at 9:46 pm

the amazing stevie wright ,,,,,,,,,
such a sad waste of immense talent
the temptations of drugs and booze are to hard to resist for some
thankyou for your past magic stevie
you will always be australian rock royalty !!!!!!!!!!

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3 debrakay January 18, 2010 at 8:12 pm

I too think Stevie Wright is an amazing talent, the comments I have read about ‘drugs and booze’ destroying people, prompts me to say that, as a worker with people in recovery, the drug treatment programs can be as bad as the drugs themselves, particularly methadone, which strips people of any health they may have left. I am really annoyed when people speak of those with drug and alcohol addictions as if they are heroes if they function normally to get up and ‘entertain’ everybody. They are heroes simply to have survived a system that drugs people into compliance with methadone and other script drugs so to minimize their addictions on the rest of us in society. Stevie Wright has survived a ‘system’ as well as an addiction.

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4 Niel Edgley November 26, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Havent seen him for a while and Stevie had his personal problems but he was a great guy and loved life,his personality reminded me so much of Bon, Stevie was a good friend to have, and lots of fun, did a song now and again with him at gigs here and there, I remember getting Stevie to a gig at The Villawood Hotel just before time to go on, we’d been out on my ( and Jackie Woodwards)(also known as Willow) boat all day on Botany Bay drinking Southern Comfort,no drugs involved and for a period of time I helped Steve to absolve from his habit, probably because we did stuff took his mind from those things, we even did a Capt. Cook landing at the real spot for a laugh, Stevie fell off the boat and nearly broke his leg,the support band were Overload, who were looking for a singer, Stevie came back to the band room and said they were looking for a new singer and it should be me, I ended up joining them and we were soon referred to as Sydney Rock n Roll Outlaws by a coupla journo’s,anyway that night at Stevies gig I rubbed Paul Demarco, Stevies drummer up the wrong way because Steve and I were sloshed, Stevie warned me to back off regained conscessness to the knowledge that Paul was Boxer, where ever you are Steve, be happy. “Nielo”.

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5 Niel Edgley November 26, 2011 at 5:43 pm

PS. Steve, your Talent will go down in history as immeasurable.”Nielo”.

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6 Ingrid January 24, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Hmmm, I remember him v well indeed. I remember Bruno Renzella and I carrying him up the stairs after he fell down the drainpipe 25 ft or so trying to get into his 1st floor flat,(in Balmain) he had lost the keys or something. He totally shattered his leg, a dreadful mess.It was 3am and he was coming back from some photo shoot I think, in snakeskin boots or some such thing. I remember hearing him yell my name over and over until I woke up so I could help him.I lived in the flat underneath. I remember him at Christmas dinner, when he didnt have anywhere else to go, on the list goes. I remember watching him play cricket in the backyard with my son and then putting up with the v bitchy gossip from some ‘groupie’ hangers on. Stevie was/is very intelligent but generally quite of lot of ‘brain sizzling’ had occurred (and at times he seemed the exact opposite of intelligent as he would listen to crap that some people told him about occult/religious issues)and he was/is a master of the manipulative art.In his good moments he could discuss any subject with wisdom and sparkling intellect and he could at times be fun, when he wasnt demanding things non stop. He has a good heart, but used to be quite paranoid at times, brought on by huge amts of assorted drugs and booze, (yes the Southern comfort). He would wake in mornings and first thing reach for the ‘comfort’ by the bed. Awesome in its ghastliness. My memories are those of a non muso around musos so its a totally different viewpoint.I was so glad to get away from that whole scene in balmain 22 odd years ago, it had toxic elements. And the son is now a uni tutor amongst other things. Roll on Stevie

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7 Scott April 28, 2013 at 8:59 am

Hi Ingrid, was Josh Smith around night?
Scotty

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8 dean martin April 12, 2012 at 8:38 pm

hi neil had good times with stevie i was the lead guitar player for overload all i remember was lots of drugs and southern comfort cheers dean martin !

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9 warren sparke August 27, 2012 at 9:33 pm

did a few tours with Stevie late 80,s and remember guitarist Glenn Goldsmith in a dressing room somewhere in QLD asking Stevie ‘what lyrics are you singing at beginning of Evie..sounds like Got my money in my pocket……cock is in my hand..?” Stevie smiled and said CARKEYS Glenn FUCKING CARKEYS…..they were fun days…

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10 Sam February 24, 2013 at 12:45 am

The first album I ever won (radio competition) was Hard Road, Stevie Wright, 1974. Played those tracks over and over. Evie might have been the major hit, the rest of the album was superb, great production.

Years later I played support act on Stevie’s first early 80’s comeback show. It would be one of his many “comeback” shows. Dressed in the white suit/vest, to say he killed it that show – understatement. Magic. It’s the show I’ll always remember.

As the years rolled on from that magic night, I played support to another 14 shows. Stevie’s performances getting progressively worse than previous shows. From the white suit and well rehearsed show… to disaster. His touring bands carried him and if they were average singers, forget it, nothing would help his failing voice.

He’d quickly spent the money from the 1986 Easybeats Reunion and was touring constantly. The venue would book him every few months as he was taking any show – cheap – to feed his habit. The broken leg tour – at the show I was at – he managed the first set and second set, sitting on a bar stool – only to disappear from the stage half way through second the set… at the bar, ordering a drink. The band played on. Audience started to leave.

Paranoia? An afternoon prior 1988 New Year Eve gig, venue manager called security, Stevie was screaming, “Close the gates, the squelchers are coming!” He calmed down by showtime. After the gig, he was wasted, could barely walk. No woman would go near him, he kept trying, sad, pitiful, then collapsed from whatever he had ingested. 1100km, 14 hour road trip back to Sydney as next night was the Australia Live, a Ch.9 television special, to open Australia’s Bicentennial celebrations. My girlfriend and I watched in total amazement… there was Stevie, standing and riding in the back of a “cadillac” singing, looking fresh, alive, on cue, didn’t miss a beat.

At later gigs, by this time, less than 50 ppl started showing up, they’d been burnt by previous shows where Stevie was so wasted he could barely sing. One night, he barely finished the second set – one of the security personnel helped him off the stage. Unshaven, unshowered, unwashed clothes, looking unhealthy – the worst I’d seen him (so far!). Two days later, I’m watching Clive Robertson’s Ch.9 Late Night News Show, “Robbo’s World Tonight” and there was Stevie Wright being interviewed. He was clean shaven, hair styled, clean leather jacket, pressed shirt…and for 20 minutes… one of the most articulate, intelligent interviews I had ever seen Stevie do. Unbelievable. Coincidentally, the security personal had also seen the interview…and couldn’t believe the transformation!

By 1993, I was part owner of a record company based in Sydney. We used to liaise with Alberts (Stevie’s former label) on projects. Alberts office staff complained to management, they were tired of Stevie’s frequent visits to the office demanding royalty payments that had previously been paid… for me, this was the lowest I’d ever seen him… teeth bad, skinny, hair unwashed, could barely walk or talk. Sad. Sad. Sad.

That night in the early-eighties will remain with me forever! What a show!!

If only he had control of his life, who knows what other gems the world missed out on.

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11 Ray Vanderby March 1, 2014 at 12:29 am

I joined Stevie Wright as his keyboard player when we toured the Hard Road album. It was by chance really. Being a piano tuner I was called out to tune the piano of a Mr. Young at Epping. I knocked on the door and it was George Young. So I tuned George’s upright then played for him when he said Stevie is looking for a keyboard player. A couple of days later Malcolm Young picked me and my keyboards up from Bondi Rd in a Bongo Van and took me over to the old Manly Theatre where we rehearsed. Stephen Housden on guitar, Malcolm Wakeford on drums, Billy Ryland on bass, Larry Duryea on percussion and me on keys. It was a memorable tour to Melbourne, I think Gunther was one of our roadies and a guy called Shane who had a transit van. In those days I have a Hammond, Leslie, Wurlitzer piano, Moog Synthesiser and a Melletron. I can’t remember it all but I got a lift back to Sydney in the back of a mini minor. From Stevie I joined 2 line ups of Blackfeather, then Doug Parkinson, Marcia Hines, Band of Light, Leo De Castro etc. Fond memories, this is a great site guys, thanks, Ray Vanderby

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12 Scott March 3, 2014 at 10:06 am

We have a great tour lined up to celebrate Stevies life and the 50th Anniversary of The Easybeats, love to see all the fans of those great days at a show.
http://www.stevieshow.com.au
http://www.scottmcrae.com.au for details and dates
Scotty

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13 Scott January 9, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Sounds like you have a few stories mate!! Stevie is alive and hanging in there and will be at the opening of the show.
Scotty

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