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.
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!