ONE YEAR GONE: Remembering Mr. Wells


BRIAN MCMANUS: A photographer for NME, working in America, is given an assignment to meet Steven in Florida, who is already there to write about American metal band Deicide. “Contact Steven,” the office tells him. “He’ll give you the details.” He gets in touch, and Steven tells him to fly into Miami airport. Upon arriving, Steven greets him, tells him they need to get a rental car. The photographer asks why he hasn’t gotten one already. “I don’t have a
fucking license,” Steven says, as though this is fairly common knowledge about him.

The photographer rents the car, and they both get in. “Ok,” says the photographer. “Where abouts in Miami are we going?” Steven, without missing a beat, answers: “Tampa.”

They buy a map and begin to drive through the state to Tampa, all the while Steven, fascinated by the 18-wheelers sharing the road, shouts “AMERICA!!” at top volume while making machine gun noises with his mouth and shooting an invisible gun out the window. “LAND OF FUCKING coverstevenface_1140.jpgFREEDOM, BABY!!!” Once in Tampa, now late, the photographer asks Steven for the singer’s address. Steven, naturally, doesn’t have it. “We’re looking for a house with a skull for a mailbox and upside-down crosses in the lawn. He’s in fucking Deicide, how hard can it be?? Just drive to 666 Satan Ave!” MORE

PHAWKER: Steven Wells was THE funniest, ballsiest, take-no-prisoners writer to grace the pages of Philadelphia print media in recent memory. His long, tragic battle with cancer was no secret, he wrote about it with the same unflinching honesty, hair-on-fire rage, savage wit and gallows humor he wrote about everything. Sir, it was a privilege and an honor. You will be sorely missed. Good night Mr. Wells, wherever you are.

JONATHAN VALANIA: Most public battles with cancer are cast as heroic. Wells would have none of that bollocks. He was scared shitless, and said as much because it’s the only reasonable human response. He was mad as hell at the unfairness of it all, because, again, it is the only reasonable response. And by the end he was sick of it all—the pain, the indignity, and the boredom of dying. What made Steven heroic was his willingness to say as much for publication, in lieu of some phony brave face. If nothing else, he innovated the lost art of dying honestly. If there is anything to be learned from Wells’ cruelly premature passing it’s this: Life is not fair, and it’s later than you think. So enjoy yourself and plan accordingly. ?MORE

PW: Steven Wells Farewell Column

steven_wells.jpgWIKIPEDIA: Steven Wells is was a British journalist and author currently based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Born in Swindon, England in 1960, Wells moved to the northern English city of Bradford with his family in 1968. Leaving school with minimal qualifications in 1977, Wells worked in a factory and as a bus conductor while becoming involved with punk music, including the radical socialist Leeds art-punk band The Mekons. In 1984, he began appearing as a punk poet and stand-up as a support act to various Northern punk bands, such as The Fall, The Mekons, Gang of Four along with fellow ranting poets Attila The Stockbroker, Swift Nick and Porky The Poet where he performed under the names “Seething Wells”, “Swells” or “Susan Williams”. In this last guise, in which he would sometimes wear a dress, he received fan mail from Kathy Acker who saw Susan as a fellow radical female writer. Later he moved to London and began to write for the NME, initially under the name Susan Williams. In this guise he championed socialist soul/punk band The Redskins along with American hardcore bands such as Black Flag and the Butthole Surfers. Later on he championed British bands which merged thrash, hardcore and heavy metal, such as Extreme Noise Terror, Napalm Death and the various bands that followed them. He also championed disposable pop artists, such as Daphne and Celeste, as successors to the punk aesthetic. In the 1990s, he diversified, occasionally writing comedy (for shows such as The Day Today) and other non-music related journalism. MORE

THE GUARDIAN: Steven Wells’ Columns

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