Thursday, June 25, 2009

Seething Wells RIP

I was sad to read today that Steven Wells had died from cancer in Philadelphia. He was a writer for the NME in the 80s – sometimes under the name Susan Williams. There’s a great obituary from James Brown here: “the brilliant NME writer with no real interest in music”.

Other tributes here, here and here is his last column for Philadelphia Weekly. His last published words:

You could blame this fallacy on poor education, cultural deterioration, or simple moral decline.

Me? I blame it on sunshine. I blame it on the moonlight. I blame it on the boogie.

I met him at the Dukes Playhouse in Lancaster in 1982 after he performed at a poetry festival. I loved his punk poet stance and his aggressive polemics. He was probably the first celebrity that I met, though he would have been horrified at the thought.

When I was planning my own fanzine (Positive Feedback) he was so encouraging. He gave us an interview, and wrote back with a load of tips and hints which was brilliant and let us publish his ranting poem: "Agro Britain". So, he’s partly responsible for setting me on my way.

I have just replayed his terrific spoken word single – Agro Britain, Godzilla versus The Tetleybittermen, Ha Ha Ha, Police Dog. Brilliant.



I was never really sure about swells. I think he was the one who stitched up Shaun Ryder and Bez on charges of homophobia back in the day.

No problem wih him exposing bigotry of course, but the way I read it later he had an agenda already and was out to get Happy Mondays and their ilk, which wouldn't really endear himself to me.

Sorry in advance if I've muddled up my muso journalists here.

Michael Taylor said...

Spot on Nige, I think you are correct. At a time when experts are describing a dead kiddy fiddler as "troubled genius" it hardly ranks does it?

andy spinoza said...

I knew SWells when he was at the NME and I was at City Life. Of course he was a legend even then because the NME had massive cultural power.
But he didn't 'stitch up' Shaun and Bez, he just left the tape recorder running and allow them to reveal themselves not as lovable scallies but as the unpleasant, homophobic, thieving scrotes they were. Probably he didn't give them enough credit for poetic genius and giving pop music a kinky twist, but he was first to suss that they'd long ago maxed out the pop culture credit cards uncle Tony had given 'em. He was a savage master of iconoclastic journalism, the Little Hulton nerks were putty in his hands. Thanks to Marple Leaf for alerting us to the sad news and his last writing.

Simon Wharton said...

And let us not forget, the King of Pop on the same day. Sky Saxon