Stevie Wright, frontman with Australian rock pioneers The Easybeats, has died at the age of 68.
The English immigrant, also known as Little Stevie Wright, formed the band in 1964 along with Englishman Gordon Fleet, Scotsman George Young and Dutchmen Harry Vanda and Dick Diamonde.
Vanda and Young became one of the leading songwriting teams of their generation. Their best-known composition is The Easybeats’ Friday On My Mind from 1966, featuring Wright’s vocals. It was named the best Australian song of all time by the Australian Performing Rights Association and it’s been covered by David Bowie, Gary Moore, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Frampton, Blue Oyster Cult and others.
George Young is the elder brother of AC/DC co-founders Malcolm and Angus Young. Malcolm played guitar on Wright’s 1974 track Evie, which became the first 11-minute song to chart anywhere in the world.
Wright went solo after The Easybeats split in 1969, but later spent many years fighting addiction issues. He took part in a reunion tour in 1986 and performed a handful of times over the past decade. His last appearance was in 2012.
He was taken to hospital in New South Wales on December 26 (Saturday) and passed away the following day. No cause of death has been reported. He’d been living a reclusive life in recent years.
Wright reported in 2013 that he’d stopped drinking 20 years previously and stopped using heroin eight years later. He’d been left with liver and kidney problems, and he’d become diabetic.
Asked what he’d change about his life, he said: “I wouldn’t pick up and hard drugs. It can destroy. It does destroy.”
Friend and fellow musician Johnny Young said: “Steve could take any audience and absolutely slay them with his energy. He lived a pretty rugged life at the end – everybody knew he had some serious addictions. But I like to remember Steve as he was when he was younger.”