The last time I saw Greedy Smith was at an exhibition opening for the rock photographer, Wendy McDougall earlier this year. Full of beans, he was working a star-filled music industry room as if he was its beloved prime minister, shaking hands, greeting all and sundry by name and being much heralded in return.
Among the best images were a set of hand-coloured photographs dating back to the early days of his group, Mental as Anything. These photos echoed the band’s art school origins in Darlinghurst, the suburban zest and pop art style that characterised their songs, and an energy you only recognise later as lightning in a bottle.
It was hard to equate my vision of this big, happy man and his beloved band with the news yesterday that Greedy Smith had died of a heart attack in his car at the age of 63. Greedy had recently taken an interest in the poetry I’d been writing and publishing on Facebook, and was keenly encouraging me to do more on the night we bumped into one another.
Amanda Brown, ex of The Go-Betweens, joined our conversation. Greedy quickly switched to congratulating her on the soundtrack she’d done for The Cult of the Family, work with which he was clearly familiar with in great musical detail. Others joined the circle as Greedy moved through the crowd like a brightly lit, oversized, rock ‘n’ roll teddy bear. I tell this anecdote not to pretend we were especially close friends – we were not – but to paint a picture of someone engaged with the world around him, plugging into people with enthusiasm and knowledge. I’d lapsed into stereotyping him as a musical comedian; I was reminded he was a serious and passionate artist.