Wednesday, February 28, 2007

R.I.P. Billy Thorpe

It's a very, very sad day indeed. Billy Thorpe, the one man we all thought was invincible, has gone in his sleep. That's Thorpie on the right in the photo, alongside his best guitar foil, Lobby Lloyd.

I only met Thorpe the once. He toured with some God-awful Rock & Roll Symphony package. The same show saw Alice Cooper, Roger Daltrey, Paul Rodgers, Peter Frampton and a few others, so my ma and step pa asked if I could go and get them some autographs - Thorpe for my ma, Rodgers for the step pa. Down to the hotel I went.

Thorpe was one of the nicest of all the famous people I met, albeit briefly. I got the signatures and asked for two, one for me, one for my ma. He looked at me and said, "Really?" "Yep," I replied, "we grew up with your music all over the house. My mum loves you." With that he roared with laughter, turned to Rodgers and said, "See! No-one says that to you mate!" I couldn't help but laugh. He signed the cards and said, "Everyone's mum loves me mate! Tell you mum I love her too!!" and off he went, chuckling all the way. I've always wondered if he was laughing at the concert that night. After all this was a guy who named his retrospective tour the 'Lock Up Your Mothers Tour'.

Thorpes two books stand testament to the man and his sense of both humour and writing skill. The first is a look at Thorpe's arrival in Sydney, the second is one of the funniest books I think I've ever read. If you ever get the chance to read them then do so - you'll not regret it. He was also the driving force behind the Long Way To The Top concerts, a tour that saw a lot of artists less fortunate than Thorpe get their just dues and some (always) needed cash.

We'll all miss Thorpie, one of the true Australian rock legends - just pick up an album and you'll see. Listen to Australian radio - each day, somewhere someone is playing Thorpe's signature song, Most People I Know Think That I'm Crazy. I'd like to close with a comment that he once put on his own site: be nice to each other.

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