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Stevie Wright
, 2003, printed 2005

by Gregory McBean

gelatin silver photograph (sheet: 45.7 cm x 55.9 cm, image: 40.6 cm x 50.8 cm)

Stevie Wright (1947-2015), singer songwriter, joined The Easybeats as lead singer in 1964, aged just 16. With guitarist George Young, ‘Little Stevie’ wrote several of the band’s early hits. They became one of Australia’s top rock acts, supporting the Rolling Stones in Europe and hitting international charts with ‘Friday on my Mind’, voted Best Australian Song of All Time in 2001. After they split in 1969, Wright spent two years in Jesus Christ Superstar. In 1974 he released two solo albums, the first containing the 11-minute hit ‘Evie’, and ended the triumphant year with concerts at the Opera House. By 1975, however, he had vanished. Although friends tried to get him back on stage during the 1980s, and he made an album in 1991, he laid low until the Long Way to the Top TV series and live tours in 2001-2003. A cover of ‘Evie’ by The Wrights, comprising members of leading Australian bands, was released in 2005. Profits went to the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, and Wright - now a teetotaller, drug-free and an inductee into the ARIA Hall of Fame.

Gregory McBean is a freelance Sydney-based editorial and documentary photographer. McBean worked in an advertising agency photographic department in his native New Zealand before moving to Sydney to further his magazine career. In the 1980s he received many awards for automotive and motor cycling photography; he was the first photographer to win both the touring & the race photo awards of the Federation International Motorcycliste (FIM) in the same year. He became the chief photographer for FPC magazines, and was instrumental in establishing its photographic studio, catering for a range of magazine requirements including room sets, automotive and motor cycle photography on large-scale cyclorama, portraiture, food and still-lifes. McBean grew up listening to the Easybeats. Many years later, he saw an enfeebled Wright sing ‘Evie’ at one of the Long Way to the Top concerts. Wright’s plucky rendition of the old hit aroused his admiration and rekindled his interest in the music of his youth. He contacted Wright’s agent and arranged to photograph him at his home at Nowra, NSW. He chose a natural shot rather than a staged one; moved by the tenacity of the man, he hoped he captured something of his character in this shot.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of the artist 2005
Accession number: 2005.76