Writers from Philadelphia and across the pond have their say.
First, a request from our music editor:
I spoke with Steven's wife Katherine this afternoon, and she's very moved by the outpouring of support shown both in the comments here and the gobs of tributes creeping out of every corner of the web today. She's asked that I ask anyone who knew him here if they might send scanned pictures of Steven from the 80s/90s. They will be used at his memorial service in a slideshow we're planning so, please, if you have them—or anything you might have you think could add—please email me at email@example.com
Much appreciated. Thanks so much. Look forward to hearing from you.
Philadelphia Weekly, music editor”
Now, onto more tributes to our friend Steven Wells.
From Will Bunch:
He leaves us with a great body of work, and one more thing: His hellish tales of the American health care system where he did battle in his final years. That's a tale that our policymakers in Washington need to hear, so that the next generation doesn't have to endure what some of Wells went through.
From James McMahon, NME:
I never met the man, but I did get five emails from him. I know this because I printed them out and stuck them on my bedroom wall as a reminder that all the bands I’d made cry en route to trying to say something important had cried those tears for a reason. My favourite is the email he sent to my editor saying, “That James McMahon guy has brilliant taste in music...” and I feel a shred of pride today knowing he went to his grave being spared the embarrassment of knowing I’d written my university dissertation on Belle & Sebastian (a band he once brilliant described as “self-loving, knock-kneed, passive aggressive, dressed-up-in-kiddy-clothes, mock-pop-creepiness peddling, smug, underachieving, real-pop-hating no-talents celebrating their own inadequacy with music so white it’s translucent"). But what is that reason? Well, that rock’n’roll was more important than entertainment, that it was lifeblood, a conduit for ideas and passion, that it was glorious. And it always should be, regardless of whether Steven is alive or not.
From Electric Roulette:
Swells was incredibly irritating to read at times, tearing strips off your favourite bands and winding up all who crossed him for kicks. See, that's what he liked doing best. He'd turn up at the NME offices in clothes that stank up the place and shove it in the face of the fringes that took the whole thing so very, very seriously. He kicked off an article about NME darlings, The Manic Street Preachers with "Let's stop pretending to be excited about a band who are obviously just dragging their bone-weary carcasses through the motions, shall we?" Even hardened MSP nuts had to have a snort of laughter at that.
From No Good Advice:
He was one of the most virulent, political music writers that ever lived; I often didn't agree with him, but that was kind of the point. There is a kind of music writer who makes writing about music seem like it matters, who makes the discourse and theorising around music seem as worthwhile as the music itself. The kind of writer who makes you feel like pop music matters so much precisely because it is there for us to interrogate, not for us to passively absorb; pop music is important because it tells us so much about the world, about people, about what we value and care about. These sorts of music writers are increasingly rare. Swells, for all his flaws, was a damn hero, and I wish to God there were more people like him around today.
And some tributes from Twitter, where the outpouring has been amazing:
quartzcity "Sky Saxon, Steven Wells, & Farrah Fawcett walk into a bar" would be the beginning of the best joke ever. RIP all.
johnkell shocked about Steven Wells. Brilliant writer... sometimes his targets were undeserving, but he went for them with style
paganwandererlu RIP Steven Wells. Never in my youth did I so consistently enjoy hearing someone slag off everything I held dear.
Our friend and colleague Steven Wells died two years ago today of the cancer he had documented so well in two cover stories for Philadelphia Weekly. On June 14, he submitted this column.
In 2007, Steven Wells made a series of YouTube videos -- rants, of course -- about America, the War on Terror and politics.