Songs of 74: Evie ( Parts 1,2 & 3) / Stevie Wright

This year Radioinfo will take you back 50 years to the songs that were released and charted in 1974. It was a mighty fine year for music.

I chatted with Cam Muncey from the band Jet this week who are touring to celebrate 20 years of their incredible album Get Born and have a new one in the works slated for a 2025 release. Get Born was influenced by the Jet band members admiration for Australian rock bands including You Am I, The Loved Ones and The Easybeats. Jet’s most successful song, Are You Gonna Be My Girl?, is a genuine tip of the sailor hat stylistically, to Easybeats’ front man Stevie Wright.

I’ve enjoyed how many non-Australians have stumbled across Evie because they are an Evie or have one in their lives. This No 1 hit didn’t extend beyond this country but many regard it as among our greatest rock songs.

Stevie Wright was born in England and migrated with his family to Australia in the 50s ending up in the Villawood Migrant Hostel. There he met some other kids, Johannes Hendrikus Jacob van den Berg from the Netherlands and a whole family from Glasgow with the last name of Young. Johannes Hendrikus Jacob van den Berg became Harry Vanda, and the meeting of Wright, the brothers Young and Vanda has been described by Australian Musician Magazine as the most significant in Australian music history.

George Young became part of the Easybeats alongside Vanda and Wright, with George and Stevie writing songs together like Wedding Ring, Sorry, Women (Make You Feel Alright) and She’s So Fine which Jet really must cover one day. In 1966 Vanda and Young would pair to write what became one of our nation’s first overseas success stories, Friday on My Mind, a song that holds up remarkably well after nearly 60 years.

Watch young Stevie sing it on French TV below:

The late 60s saw drugs and debt bring about the end of the Easybeats with Wright joining the original Australian cast of Jesus Christ Superstar and Vanda and Young staying together to write and produce songs, partly to pay off those debts and partly because they were really, really good at it.

They returned to Australia after trying to crack the UK market to work for Albert Records, who had supported the Easybeats through the highs and lows of their career. With the label they produced hits for John Paul Young, also writing Love is in the Air, Rose Tattoo and The Angels. George Young encouraged his two younger brothers and produced their band’s first six albums.

His two younger brothers? Malcolm and Angus. The band? AC/DC.

By 1973 Stevie Wright was in the heights of a heroin addiction. Vanda and Young, trying to dig Wright out of a hole, championed him to Ted Albert of Albert Records and wrote Evie, a rock opera in three parts, specifically for him. George grabbed brother Malcolm to play guitar on part 1, Harry Vanda is responsible for the guitar solo in part 3. All up Evie runs, for those of you who are superstitious, at 11.11. No number 1 in this country before or since has exceeded Evie’s length, even though the Kent Music Chart and radio stations usually only play or refer to Part 1.



















I grew up in Sydney five minutes’ walk from the Chelmsford Private Hospital in Pennant Hills, Sydney. That place, under Dr Harry Bailey, mark a horrible period in our history of unregulated treatment for people suffering addiction and mental health concerns. Only a few years after Evie Stevie Wright admitted himself into Chelmsford. The treatment damaged his brain and gave him lifelong aftereffects.

Wright was Australia’s first rock star, unforgettable on stage. In June 1974 he performed Evie out the front of the Sydney Opera House for a crowd of 2500. 10K more were turned away.

Five years later an event called The Concert of the Decade was arranged with an all-star lineup of Australian talent at the same venue. This time an estimated 100,000 people attended as you can see below.

This was Wright’s finest performance. I wish I’d been there.

Jen Seyderhelm is a writer, editor, podcaster and music trivia buff for Radioinfo.

Tags: | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |