Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Steven Wells 1960-2009

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Richard Meltzer. Nick Kent. Julie Burchill. Michael Azerrad. Steven Wells. Of all the music journalists to use sleight of pen to squeeze the strutting power of rock and roll into words, Steven Wells was the icon, the vitriolic voice of dissent in an age of press-release-driven journalism. He died on June 24 at the age of 49.

I discovered Wells through The Manic Street Preachers, the UK band Wells had directed in the brilliant music video for Little Baby Nothing (and that is Traci Lords doing back-up). I was at the age when writing/saying what I believed (as opposed to what I thought I should think) was like trying to remove a cork from a bottle by hand, and reading Wells was a corkscrew to my own rigidity. From Wells, I learned that writing squiggled around the censor of politesse and showed up laughing, cursing, and grinning with the genuine article of truth if you were brave enough to stand the sound of it.

David Quantick in the 29 June issue of The Guardian put it down to brass tacks. "There are two kinds of music journalist, the ones who write about music because they want to communicate their love of music, and the ones who write about music because they are brilliant writers, extraordinary personalities and they have to write about something. Steven Wells...was definitely the latter.”

If you’ve never read Wells, a quick Google search will turn up loads of his articles. You can read the full text of the Guardian obituary here and a series of features on Wells’ life and art in the 1 July Philadelphia Weekly. The Independent also has an in-depth retrospective on Wells here.

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Related item from our archives

Lauren Kirshner

Lauren Kirshner is the author of the novel Where We Have to Go (McClelland & Stewart, 2009). Her short stories, arts reviews, interviews and poetry have appeared in newspapers and literary journals such as The Toronto Star, Now, The Hart House Review and Exile.

Go to Lauren Kirshner’s Author Page