26 March 2012
In the early hours of 24 March, NSW Police found the burnt out wreck of Vince’s Volkswagon Kombi van, which had run off the road and rolled on Binna Burra Road in the hills behind Byron Bay near his home.
Born in 1948 in Fremantle WA, Vince began his music career as a singer in the 1960s with Perth bands The Dymensions and The Winstons. In 1966, he formed the band The Valentines and shared vocals with Bon Scott, whom he later introduced to heavy rock group AC/DC. He remained one of Bon’s closest friends until his death in 1980.
The Valentines recorded several songs written by George Young and Harry Vanda of The Easybeats including Every Day I Have to Cry which made the Perth top 5. In 1970, they gained a place on the national top 30 with their single Juliette.
Many years later in a biography Vince penned about Bon he wrote; “We were very poor, almost starving, driving down the highways, absorbed with rock'n'roll, stealing people's front door milk money to survive, living on boiled potatoes, the dreams of success our mantra.
“We enjoyed a mad three years, the five of us, performing in every, single, poky hall and drug-infested club in tiny towns in every pocket of Australia. We slept in the van together, slumped over the equipment; we ate together, travelled together and were in each other's pockets almost 24 hours of every day - all for one and one for all.”
In September 1970, The Valentines were the first Australian band arrested for marijuana possession. The ‘scandal’ was much publicized and each member received a fine of $150 and was put on a good behaviour bond.
In 2006 and 2007, Vince performed in his hometown of Perth with The Party Boys at the Bon Scott Tribute concerts, organized by Angels drummer Buzz Bidstrup to raise funds for a bronze sculpture of Bon. Rockin’ out side of stage was Vince’s youngest daughter Lilli, who was then just 11 years old. It was the first time she had seen her Dad perform in front of a huge crowd of black t-shirts. It was a very special moment for the father and daughter.
Buzz also played drums with Vince’s most recent band ‘Mongrels for Passion’ at the 2009 Adelaide Guitar Festival, which Buzz had organized as a tribute to AC/DC.
Vince had a brief solo career, with a single in 1971, Livestock followed by Get Myself out of This Place in 1972. He was a vocalist for Mount Lofty Rangers in early 1974, which included longtime friend and virtuoso piano player, Peter Head and Bon.
With his first wife Helen, Vince also ran a band management and booking agency, Jovan, in Adelaide. Vince would give Bon odd jobs to do in their office until he recommended Bon to Angus and Malcolm Young as vocalist for their band AC/DC. Jovan briefly managed AC/DC (now with Bon as vocalist) and Cold Chisel (with his friend Jimmy Barnes).
Said Vince: “We booked into Adelaide most major Australian acts, such as Lobby Loyde, Kevin Borich, Skyhooks, Chain, and Buster Brown, with Angry Anderson on vocals.
“There was a young, dinky little glam band from Sydney that we both loved called AC/DC. Leaders of the band were brothers Angus and Malcolm Young. I knew their big brother, George, from the old Valentines days. George and his former Easybeats colleague Harry Vanda wrote us a few songs, and Bon idolised that group's singer, Stevie Wright.”
When Vince’s daughter Holly was born in 1975, he began to focus more on journalism and TV production, writing for Go-Set and moving to Melbourne to be a reporter for A Current Affair and The Don Lane Show.
In 1981, Vince relocated to Sydney and took on the job as manager of Divinyls. He organised their transfer from WEA to Chrysalis and their first tours of the United States. He also had a small roll in the movie Monkey Grip featuring the music of Divinyls.
In New York with The Divinyls, he fell in love with second wife Suzi Sidewinder with whom he had a son Troy. Shortly after Troy’s birth, both Suzi and the baby were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and Vince put his career on hold to care for his wife (who died in 1987) and Troy (who passed away three weeks before his 8th birthday in 1993).
They were each the subject of documentary films that Vince produced, Suzi’s Story and A Kid Called Troy with music soundtracks by his friend David Hirschfelder.
Troy had a wish list of things he wanted to do before he died and Vince was tireless in ensuring that they ticked off as many as possible. One of them was to see a baby born. When my daughter Madison Carrette was born at Royal Women’s Hospital in Paddington on 4 June 1992, Vince and Troy were there at the hospital to see it. Troy passed away the day before Madison’s first birthday.
And so began Vince’s pioneering work as an AIDS awareness advocate. He worked tirelessly to dispel the myth that AIDS was a “gay disease” and spent the rest of his life educating, what was once, an ignorant fearful public about the virus.
Vince also worked as tour manager for Jimmy Barnes and toured Europe with him as well as continuing to write music stories as a London correspondent for News Ltd and Immedia. Vince is the Godfather of Jane & Jimmy’s daughter Eliza-Jane.
In 1999, Vince wrote the unauthorised biography of INXS frontman, Michael Hutchence in which he alleged that Paula Yates had used her pregnancy to ensnare Hutchence. Yates sued for libel and the case was settled for an undisclosed amount that virtually bankrupted Vince.
I first met Vince back in 1989 as a naïve twentysomething journo when I married his great mate, photographer Peter Carrette. Vince and Peter go back to the late 1960s when Vince was singing with The Valentines and Peter was a young gun Cockney photographer who would drive The Valentines to their Sydney gigs and photograph them for rock magazines like Go-Set and Everybodys.
In December 2010, Vince wrote a moving tribute to Carrette for The Music Network sharing the “cowboy adventures” that they, together with Bon Scott had in the heady days of sixties rock n roll.
At the time of his death, Vince was working on a biography of Peter Carrette, was writing new material for the ‘Mongrels of Passion’ and also wrote a daily music blog MusicBackTrack. His last entry was the day before his death.
For more than 20 years, I have laughed and cried with Vince: through countless gigs, births, deaths, marriages, divorces and love affairs. And yes, there were plenty of love affairs.
Radio Personality Holger Brockmann laughingly recalls that Vince’s charisma was such that to this day there are several marriage breakups that have been attributed to Vince’s sex appeal. “Women loved Vince and Vince loved women. He had it all – looks, charm and a great capacity for love,” said Holger.
In all, Vince married three times but it was his children Holly, Troy and Lilli, sons Jason and Jo and grandsons, Arlo and Marlon who were closest to his heart. Vince and Lilli lived on a property in the picturesque hills behind Byron Bay near Holly and her family.
Family and friends meant everything to Vince … and to that end he was rich in an abundance of love and will be missed by many.
Hey Bon, Thorpie, Carrette, Suzi & Troy! Move over guys. There is a new star in heaven.
Vince’s family is planning a musical celebration in Sydney and a private service as soon as the formal identification is confirmed.
A full tribute to Vince Lovegrove, including personal tributes by many of Vince's friends in the industry, will appear in next Monday's print version of TMN.
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