The Easybeats’ Stevie Wright was born on 20th December and was a massive star in Sixties Australia. Just one news story about The Easybeats would make the front cover of Go-Set in the Sixties and he was mobbed by young women, as The Beatles were mobbed in London. They called them The Easys and Wright had a gift for projecting happy-go-lucky, easy charm. Wright was British and his Beatle DNA is obvious in all the old clips, but The Easybeats’ sound was raw and powerful. Bruce Springsteen would later cover Friday On My Mind. The song reached Number One in Australia and Number Six in Great Britain. Wright’s energy had a lot do with it.
David Bowie and The Easybeats
Later on he would make headlines as an addict, but Stevie Wright has been a massive influence on musicians and been widely covered. In a song that lasted around three minutes (Friday on My Mind), Wright and the Easybeats found a song David Bowie wanted to sing too – and summed up an Australian working class attitude that Jimmy Barnes would attempt with Working Class Man, years later.
Stevie Wright Tributes
Stevie Wright and The Easybeats continue to inspire cover versions and tributes. Easy Fever in December 2017, Australia, is just one example. Something about Wright still speaks to singers and musicians today, beyond David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen who delighted Sydney audiences with his version of Friday.
Wright was a fascinating frontman who also took to the stage in Jesus Christ Superstar. Not the average rocker. Steve Hoffman’s website is an excellent Wright resource about this period.
I’ll Make You Happy
I’ll Make You Happy is just one Easybeats classic which put Australian music on the Sixties international hipster map. It stands the test of time, as does The Divinyls’ blistering cover version which Chrissy Amphlett made her own.
I Give You Love
The Easybeats wrote as they spoke. They created three-minute poems about Australian life in the Sixties which Stevie Wright drilled into the camera, then onto the transistor radios of the time. He was Australia’s first international star. Happy Birthday Stevie.
Australian Music T-Shirt Day on 3rd November 2017 was a successful fundraiser for the music charity Support Act which partly gives financial support to musicians with mental health issues. High-profile faces involved included Jimmy Barnes, seen here giving Opposition Leader Bill Shorten a Cold Chisel T-Shirt, while wearing a Midnight Oil classic. (All images: Twitter).
Barnes was celebrating his bestselling memoir for HarperCollins when the opportunity arrived to promote the Support Act fundraiser.
The Easybeats – coming soon to ABC-TV – were a popular choice for T-Shirts on the day (modelled here by Michael Rowland).
As the band who introduced the idea of free T-shirts to Australian vinyl covers, Midnight Oil also found some favourite shirts and wore them to promote the Support Act fundraiser. You can donate to Support Act or find out more about the T-Shirt campaign here.
Vale George Young. The passing of the genius behind The Easybeats and a key member of the Young dynasty has generated new interest in AC/DC, the Young brothers and their huge influence on Australia.
THE AC/DC MAP
If you’re visiting Fremantle, Melbourne or Sydney and want to go on a Bon Scott and Angus Young pilgrimage, here are the sacred sites. On the AC/DC Map of Australia, Melbourne has to come first. Why? The band lived there. And Countdown made them famous there – mainly because Bon Scott put on a school uniform too.
AC/DC IN ELSTERNWICK, MELBOURNE
Bon Scott immortalised himself and the band filming Countdown for ABC-TV. These images are from Twitter #ClassicCountdown. Sarah Clarke @ACSarahAC is the source for the 1985 Countdown studio audience pass. Sadly the famous studio has now been sold to a supermarket. And by 1985 AC/DC had become world superstars.
MELBOURNE – ST KILDA
6 Lansdowne Road, East St Kilda. Demolished and replaced (like most of Melbourne music history) but nevertheless, nominated by music magazine Mojo as a contender for music history’s “vilest den of depravity”. There is also a free app if you are interested – put together by Australian music historian Bruce Milne and Music Victoria.
The St. Kilda Kitchen
It wasn’t all depravity, though. Sometimes there was cake. Trudy Worme’s mum used to drop her off at 6 Lansdowne Road on Sunday afternoons so she could cook dinner for them. She also baked Angus his favourite chocolate cakes. That definitely puts her on the AC/DC Map.
The visuals in AC/DC Lane (off Flinders Lane, Melbourne and the home of the ‘musicians’ music venue’ Cherry Bar) change all the time. Even if you’ve been here before, it won’t look the same. AC/DC Lane was the result of lobbying by Music Victoria’s Patrick Donovan (then a journalist with The Age) and James Young, who runs Cherry Bar.
This part of Melbourne is associated with Bon Scott (far right, with hippie band Fraternity) in particular. This is where he lost his flares, found his tight jeans and discovered his voice. You can walk from AC/DC Lane to Swanston Street and see the trail Bon and the band followed for It’s A Long Way to the Top.
The Hard Rock Cafe
The original Hard Rock Cafe was created by former AC/DC manager Michael Browning from the remains of Bertie’s, formerly Victoria and Albert. This is where AC/DC played for $1 and Angus Young fell on the floor and accidentally invented his ‘dying insect’ pose. It stood at 1 Spring Street.
The Australian Music Vault
The Hard Rock Cafe of Seventies legend at 1 Spring Street has now been swallowed up by the corporate towers of Shell (below). If you want to get a feeling for not only AC/DC, but also Melbourne music history though – the place which formed the sound – The Australian Music Vault in The Arts Centre Melbourne (opened December 2017) is a good place to start. Bon’s leather jacket is archived there.
SYDNEY – THE YOUNGS’ HOME
4 Burleigh Street, Burwood was once home to George, Malcolm and Angus Young. George went on to form The Easybeats and Malcolm and Angus went on to form AC/DC. Burwood is less well-known than AC/DC Lane in Melbourne or Bon Scott’s memorial in Fremantle, but it’s a highlight of the AC/DC Map in New South Wales.
Purchased in 1965 by the Youngs’ father, a migrant from Scotland the house at 4 Burleigh Street was home, after the family left Villawood Migrants’ Hostel. The house dates from 1906. Historian Glenn A. Baker successfully lobbied for its preservation (among with other Australian music landmarks) some years ago.
On 19 February 1980 Bon tragically died outside 67 Overhill Road, East Dulwich in London. There is no plaque there, despite a petition by fans – but Bon’s memorial in Fremantle is one of the National Trust’s most visited Australian sites. There is also a statue.
The AC/DC Map of Australia begins in Melbourne with the site of the old Hard Rock Cafe at 1 Spring Street (below) and stretches as far as Bon Scott’s grave in Fremantle. Images: Pinterest/Twitter
Australian music plaques are few and far between. Yet, Lygon Street in Melbourne would the place for a plaque for Shirley Strachan, who made certain parts of Melbourne his own, thanks to classic Skyhooks songs.
A Plaque For Countdown?
For a small industry, Australian music has achieved big things across the world. It has also lost a lot of people along the way. Countdown alone, situated at the old ABC Studios in Ripponlea, might deserve the biggest plaque of all – so long is the roll-call of names. Doc Neeson is just one of them.
Unforgettable Names in Australian Music
This is just a small selection of the Australian musicians who you might think deserve a plaque. Even if, like Grant McLennan, they already have a bridge.
Doc Neeson and Chris Bailey, The Angels Greg Ham, Men at Work Michael Hutchence, Max Q, INXS Chrissy Amphlett, Divinyls Guy McDonough and Brad Robinson, Australian Crawl James Freud, The Models Steve Gilpin, Mi-Sex Harvey James and Clive Shakespeare, Sherbet Dallas Royall, Peter Wells, Ian Rilen, Mick Cocks Lobby Loyde, Neil Smith, Rose Tattoo Ted Mulry, The Ted Mulry Gang Neil Storey, Paul Hewson and Marc Hunter, Dragon
Grant McLennan, The Go-Betweens
Tracey Pew, The Birthday Party
Australian Music Plaques – one for Tracey Pew? (Pictured)
Powderfinger are part of the Walk of Fame in Brisbane. Little Pattie and other surf icons are celebrated in the streets of Kings Cross outside a lost venue. Cold Chisel are also remembered in Kings Cross outside Sweethearts, which Don Walker made his own in the 1970s.
Little Pattie Kings Cross
Beatles Plaques? Remembering the Australian Tour
The Beatles slept here. This Australian Women’s Weekly magazine article from 1964 celebrates the group’s stay at The Southern Cross Hotel. Worthy of a plaque? Or should it be outside Melbourne Town Hall, where the band once stopped traffic on Swanston Street? This is the piano Paul McCartney played on, below.
Elvis Costello Was Here – at Flinders Street Station
Should Flinders Street Station, Melbourne receive a plaque for Elvis Costello, as the site for his famous video, I Wanna Be Loved? Or is it more appropriate that a digital plaque be created for Painters and Dockers, who commemorated the place in the classic song, The Boy Who Lost His Jocks on Flinders Street Station?
Mulry to Saddington – Gone, Not Forgotten
Let us know on Twitter who deserves a plaque in a place they called their own. Ted Mulry? Wendy Saddington?