Andrew ‘Greedy’ Smith: It’s just too sad

Losing Greedy Smith this year was a big shock. A shock that reverberated through the Australian music community. A shock that reminded everyone from the late 70s/early 80s glory years of Australian rock of their own mortality. If Greedy has gone, who’s next? It’s enough to send a shiver down your spine.

The massive turnout at the Macquarie Park crematorium on 9 December to celebrate Greedy’s life was testament to the man’s impact on those that knew him and those who admired his works. The request to wear colourful shirts was honoured by most and the eulogies were numerous and sometimes lengthy.

My personal highlight was Greig Pickhaver (HG Nelson)’s inimitable, high velocity, truth-bending rave, still available on YouTube (see below). It runs for a breathless eleven and a half minutes from the 35 minute mark. Comic genius.

The wake at El Rancho was a fittingly upbeat affair, with toasts drunk and tales tall and true being told. The main picture above features ex-Adelaide boys Andrew Travers (Milky Bar Kids, Western Distributors) on the left and Buzz Bidstrup (Angels, GANGgajang) on the right, with Murray Cook (Wiggles, Soul Movers) in the background. And oh yes, that’s the back of my head in the centre. (Photographer unknown)

Mental as Anything and Roadrunner were very much in sync in their early days with reporting of the band’s signing with Regular Records by Stuart Coupe, an early feature by Stuart Matchett, and cover stories by Toby Creswell and London correspondent Chris Willis. All are included in the Roadrunner anthology, The Big Beat, but one article that didn’t make the cut was from the October 1981 issue.

It was an interview with Greedy on his flying visit to Adelaide to promote the Mentals third album Cats and Dogs. Although the album kicked off with his own ‘Too Many Times’ as well as featuring Martin Plaza’s ‘If You Leave Me Can I Come Too?’ and Peter O’Doherty’s ‘Berserk Warriors’, the song that Greedy really wanted to talk about was his other song on the album, ‘Sad Poetry’.

‘I’ve got the ‘Sad Poetry’ song on there which is … well what I’m telling people is that it’s a put down of Shakespeare,’ he said. ‘William Shakespeare the famous Bard of Avon, not William Shakespeare the pop singer with the nice shoes. Anyway the song is basically criticising the inclusion of Shakespeare in the English curriculum of Australian high schools. It’s fairly deeply disguised.’

In the spirit of the jape, we butchered some lines from King Lear (Act 3, Scene 2) and ran them as the headline.

Blow winds and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow!
You cataracts and hurricanes, spout
Till you have drenched our (and then we inserted) Greedy, drowned in cats & dogs.

The song’s opening lines are:

Shakespeare wrote some plays
Many years ago
Some of them he made comedy
But wouldn’t you know
All of the heroes got killed
I think it’s funny
So I don’t wanna hear any more sad poetry
Another word, I don’t want you to show it to me
I don’t care if it’s good
I don’t care if it’s bad
It’s just too sad.

 

I last ran into to Greedy at the opening of the Paper Tigers posters exhibition at the National Art School in Darlinghurst, which kicked off Sydney’s Sedition festival in August this year. He was with former Mental’s manager Jeremy Fabinyi and I proudly showed them the advance copy of The Big Beat book I had with me. Jeremy went straight to M in the index and found an entry for ‘Mental as Anything – Music Farm Studios’. He leafed through the book to page 243 and read out the item. The references to magic mushrooms and table tennis brought immediate laughs of remembrance. And Greedy said, I’ve got to get this book, I’m doing a history of the Mentals, and this is exactly the sort of stuff I need for it, where can I get the book? And I said, it’ll be out in a month or so. And then he left.

Farewell Greedy. Too right mate, it’s just too sad.

 

 

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