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Stevie Wright
, 1975 (printed 2011)

by Gary Ede

inkjet print (sheet: 36.2 cm x 44.0 cm, image: 30.2 cm x 40.5 cm)

Stevie Wright (1947-2015), singer songwriter, joined The Easybeats as lead singer in 1964, aged just sixteen. 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’, which was 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 a triumphant year with concerts at the Opera House. By 1975, however, he had vanished, to undergo permanently damaging ‘treatment’ for drug addiction at the dreadful Chelmsford Private Hospital in Sydney. 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 to Wright himself, who though very frail, was by then a long-term teetotaller, drug-free and an inductee into the ARIA Hall of Fame. Biographies of Wright include Sorry: The Wretched Tale of Little Stevie Wright (1999) and Hard Road: The life and times of Stevie Wright (2004).

Gary Ede, born in California but a resident of Sydney since 1980, took this photograph early in his career, when he was in London photographing authors and celebrities for book publishers. Ede’s photograph of Wright working the jeanjacket/jean combination now known – and deplored - as ‘double denim’ is the definitive happy image of the pint-sized performer.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2011
Accession number: 2011.61