The singer was responsible for co-writing international hit 'Friday On My Mind' and was one of the country's best-known 20th-century pop stars
Decorated UK-born, Australia-based musician Stevie Wright — best known for his seminal role in renowned Aussie outfit The Easybeats — has passed away in NSW, it has been confirmed. He was 68 years old.
As ABC reports, Wright became unwell on Boxing Day before being taken to Moruya Hospital in southern NSW, where he passed away on Sunday night.
Wright — affectionately known as 'Little Stevie' — co-founded The Easybeats in late 1964 with friends Gordon Fleet, Dick Diamonde, Harry Vanda and George Young, the latter pair going on to become venerated songwriters on the national landscape with their eponymous songwriting prize.
As young men, though, The Easybeats were all about capitalising on the fevered enthusiasm buoying the British Invasion led by The Beatles, with the band spending the next five years experiencing all the highs and lows of international stardom therein: their best-known track, Friday On My Mind, took chart gold in Australia, clearing the top 10 in Britain and top 20 in the US upon its release in 1966, with consequent (though less impactful) hits coming in the form of cuts such as She's So Fine, Sorry, Good Times and Wedding Ring.
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The Easybeats disbanded in 1969, with Wright turning his attention to his solo ambitions in the break-up's wake, fronting outfits such as Stevie Wright Band and Stevie Wright & The Allstars, and releasing his best-known solo single, Evie (Parts 1, 2 & 3), an 11-minute-long epic that nonetheless holds the distinction of being the only contemporary composition of such a length to chart at #1 anywhere in the world.
During the 1970s and their aftermath, Wright began to suffer the effects of his youthful hard living, his earlier substance abuse eventually seeing the songwriter self-admit himself to Sydney's Chelmsford Private Hospital for treatment with controverisal, side-effect-riddled 'deep sleep therapy'.
However, the final 15 years of his life were an undeniable turnaround as, with the aid of his wife, Faye, Wright took command once more, regaining sufficient health to perform at 2002's all-star Long Way To The Top national concert tour alongside the likes of Daddy Cool, John Paul Young, Marcia Hines, The Masters Apprentices and Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs, among others, before seeing his biography, Hard Road, make it to print in 2004.
Wright, along with the rest of The Easybeats, was inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame in 2005. His last public performance was at Byron Bay's Legends Of Rock festival in 2009.
ARIA would like to extend its deepest condolences to Stevie Wright's family, friends and fans. pic.twitter.com/GagnnrQfzn— ARIA (@ARIA_Official) December 27, 2015
Damn sad news about Stevie. What an absolute champion. Will be blasting this in his honour: https://t.co/703JOA5vd4— Clem BB-8stow (@clembastow) December 27, 2015
Rock & Roll heaven just got a little bigger Vale Stevie Wright Thanks for the memories with the Easybeats & Evie #steviewright RIP— Beges007 (@beges007) December 27, 2015
Oz music lost its own Pagliacci today. So long and farewell Stevie Wright. RIP.— fitz (@ultrafitz) December 27, 2015
Stevie Wright, passed away at age, 68. Rock in Peace pic.twitter.com/lDGTYvTbcg— Triple M Sydney (@TripleMSydney) December 27, 2015