This Stevie Wright article was written by Jen Taylor, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Ben Kendall.
A lifetime of memories has been left behind by Stevie Wright, the international rock star who died of pneumonia in Australia on December 27th 2015 at age 68. With a chequered past fitting of a rock star of the time, involving years of drug and alcohol abuse, his legacy contains countless hits and a persona that made him an important part of the rock music scene, primarily in Australia, but also in the UK.
Born in Leeds, Wright moved to Australia when he was nine years old. He made his name alongside Harry Vanda and George Young in the quintessential rock group The Easybeats. In their five year career, they paved the way for Australian rock to develop into the established scene it has become.
The Easybeats released a stream of singles in 1965-1966. These early songs were written by Wright and Young; the two made a formidable song-writing team, even writing number one hits for other artists at this time.
The hype around The Easybeats in Australia had grown so much that thousands of screaming fans would turn up and cause chaos at gigs. The group decided that it was time to take their music, already heavily influenced by the British bands of the time, over to the UK.
Their 1966 hit ‘Friday On My Mind’ (written by Vanda and Young) was undoubtedly The Easybeats’ most successful and well remembered; it made number one in the Australian charts and number six in the UK. It also signified the decline of the Wright-Young songwriting partnership, and by the end of 1968, Vanda and Young had begun to focus more on their songwriting duo, and drugs were starting to force the band apart. They finally said goodbye in 1970.
As a lead singer, Wright was charismatic and he looked at home behind his microphone: a natural born performer. After The Easybeats parted ways, Wright performed in the stage show of Jesus Christ Superstar, and had a short lived solo career before admitting himself to the controversial Chelmsford Private Hospital to help with his drug addiction.
Most notable from his solo career was the 11 minute, three part song ‘Evie’, which brought him briefly back together with Vanda and Young who wrote the song for him. In 1979, he famously performed ‘Evie’ for a huge crowd on the steps of the Sydney Opera House – a performance that went down in history as an iconic rock event.
In the later years of his life, Wright mostly stayed out of the public eye, only playing the occasional event. In 2005 he was inducted into the ARIA Hall of fame along with the other members of The Easybeats, marking the extent of the band’s influence on the music scene. His last show was as a festival headline act in 2009.
In the aftermath of his death, other bands have taken to their social media accounts to speak out about how influential Wright and The Easybeats have been in their music. The world is mourning the loss of such an important part of music history; his legacy will live on.