Australia’s first rock icon, Easybeats frontman Stevie Wright, has been remembered at his celebrity-studded funeral as a “cheeky little bugger” who changed the face of Australian music.
Sporting piercings and shaggy haircuts, hundreds of mourners joined music industry heavyweights including Angry Anderson, Grinspoon’s Phil Jamieson and Warren Morgan to celebrate the singer’s life.
“Stevie was clearly the most charismatic performer Australia had ever seen,” director and writer Paul Clarke told the crowded service at St Andrews Cathedral in Sydney on Friday. “Your life force was impossible to ignore, undeniable,” he said.
“You were always known as ‘Little’ but it feels to us right now that a great musical warrior has fallen.”
Wright’s only child, Nick, spoke of the unconditional love he shared with his dad.
“Every kid dreams that his father would be famous, his name up in lights but be careful what you wish for,” he said, touching on Wright’s decades-long battle with drug and alcohol addiction.
“In spite of the element of tragedy that would always haunt his life, I’ll never give up on that bond,” he said.
The two-hour service also included performances from You Am I frontman Tim Rogers and John Paul Young, who sang a slow, bittersweet rendition of Wright’s Evie Part Two.
Several music and documentary clips were also played, showcasing Wright’s life as a 15-year-old who met his Easybeats bandmates at an immigrant hostel in Sydney’s west in the 1960s, and went on to be inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2005.
Easybeats drummer, Gordon “Snowy” Fleet said Wright would have been pretty happy with Friday’s turn-out.
“Stevie got the send-off that he deserved. I’m amazed by the amount of people that turned up,” he told AAP. “He knows I’m here. I felt him.”
The Easybeats shot to fame with their hit Friday On My Mind, which reached number one in Australia, number six in Britain and made the top 20 in the US in 1966.
After the band split up, Wright went on to become a top solo artist releasing hits such as the three-part epic, Evie.
The wild rocker died in Moruya on the NSW south coast last month, aged 68, after falling ill with pneumonia.
He’s survived by his partner, Fay Walker, son Nick and two grandchildren.