Steven Wells: 1960 – 2009
One of the greatest comic journalists ever to hit a key passed away two months ago and bloggers worldwide should mourn his passing. He had passion, intelligence, and a ferocious antipathy towards any kind of mediocrity, but most of all he had style. No-one else could construct a sentence like him. In terms of sheer effortless brio, I think Steven Wells was the best there’s ever been.
Just read this, written after his last cancer diagnosis:
“On Thurs., Jan. 29, 2009, I got a phone call from my gastroenterologist. He told me I’ve got a cancer called enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphoma— which only afflicts a small percentage of the small percentage of people who develop celiac disease. And as cancers go, it’s a bastard.
Anyhoo. I put the phone down and let out a huge, self-pitying “Why me?” The answer, of course, is the same as the answer to Travis’ shit-awful 1999 international breakthrough hit, “Why Does It Always Rain on Me?” Because you’re a fucking dick. Now shut the fuck up and grow a pair.”
You can read his brilliantly brief goodbye article here as well as links to two cover stories on his experiences as an Englishman in an American cancer ward. His heavily medicated insights into the horrors of the US Healthcare system throw into ball-shrinking relief all the recent NHS bashing in the American media:
“Weeks later–weeks during which I nearly die, become hideously deformed and then spend entire days crying like a baby–the wife and I are in the elevator in our apartment building when she opens the bill from our bat-shit crazy American insurance company.
“How much?” I giggle.
“$51,000,” she snorts
It might as well be 51 gazillion billion bazillion trillion. We both start laughing like hyenas on helium.”
If you can spare ten minutes, scroll through the 200+ comments beneath his final farewell, where old workmates and family alike offer their condolences & memories. His comedy writing partner David Quantick’s Guardian obituary – in which we discover that Mr Wells invented the word ‘saddo’ – is here. Akira the Don pays tribute here, while old music hack Mat Snow and fellow political poet Attila the Stockbroker say their goodbyes in this Indie obituary.
To me, Steven Wells was the byline I’d seek out before all others in any music mag, because just reading him made me want to write. This blog would probably not exist in this form without him, and I think many, many thousands would say much the same.
RIP (as if) Steven ‘Swells’ Wells.