I first met Greedy in 1978 at the Civic Hotel. Mentals were supporting us and I was trying to get set-up but all this garrulous guy wanted to do was compare the size and capability of our organs, mine Tiesco, his Farfisa.
We connected instantly. The guitarists were the sex magnets of a band, strutting around with their phallic symbols. Greedy and I were Billy Bunters stuck behind the shop counter, the guys who played third eighteen and got sent to long on in the hope that nobody would be able to hit a ball that far because we‘d likely drop it. It wasn’t unusual for Greedy and I to be mistaken for one another – well, for me to be mistaken for Greedy, anyway. One time I had this particularly long conversation with a young woman who was complimenting me on my songs and performance – I should have smelled a rat immediately because women didn’t tend to like Girls Wank and Hot Crotch all that much – but I was basking in her admiration until she started to ask about Martin and Reg and how were they doing. Only then the penny dropped. I never told her who was who.
The Mentals and Suburbs got on really well and we would tour the Hume Highway often passing one another in some glamourous location like Holbrook, or sharing cheap beds at Macy’s Hotel. Separate beds.
I took a break from touring for about ten years. My first trip back on the Hume Highway, who did I see passing the other way but the Mentals. They hadn’t stopped. I doubt anybody in the world has played more gigs than Greedy over these last forty-two years. I mean that.
Of course, I can’t believe he’s gone, and it’s only the fact it’s free entry here today that convinces me he wasn’t just boosting numbers.
People sometimes ask me what’s the best gig you’ve been to: and Brian Wilson and Elton John are up there, but so is the night 6 of us crammed into Rod Gillett’s blue Zephyr and went to the Revesby Workers Club to watch Mentals play hit after hit. It was staggering just how successful they had been. I thought it was hard getting one it. They had about nineteen.
Never was anybody less appropriately named than `Greedy’. He should have been named `Generous’ because that’s what he was. He always gave. On my last album WHEN, he started off doing backing vocals, then added harmonica, and even did some art for the track Lonely Sailor.
Serious critics of art, including popular music, always sing the praises of the angst ridden, layered metaphoric artist, and elevate them ahead of seemingly lighter material. But the truth is that it’s often the modest, incidental, delicate and seemingly trivial that offer the greatest insights and truths into our humanity. It’s just as difficult, maybe more difficult, to make somebody laugh as to make them cry. This is where the Mentals excel.
Greedy was without peer in making us feel good, about ourselves and each other. That is the rarest gift of all. That is true genius. His most famous song, Live It Up, is fundamentally about trust. About how even though we’re vulnerable, we need to trust someone they can make our lives better.
Everybody here today trusted Greedy to make us feel better. And he never once let us down.