This is a guest post by Melbourne-based writer and musician Genevieve McGuckin originally published at her Facebook page
I watched Rage last night, the outpouring of memories and all the funny poignant stories have made Spencer seem so real, it’s impossible to believe he’s gone. So much has been said and so well, it’s a bit daunting to add to.
Aw, Spencer. I was lucky enough to know this charming funny and generous man who made incredible music, and who had a way of making me feel pretty damn special. Spencer was like a kid with a lolly jar around music and I found that irresistible in a man who’d written and played some of my all time favourite songs.
Newly back in Melbourne after 15 years in Europe, Rowland [Howard] and I were both staying at Rowland’s dad’s place in Albert Park. We must’ve been there for about 2 weeks when Jock shuffled into the kitchen one sunny afternoon to say:
Jock: “Rowland! Your drug dealer’s here.”
Rowland: “WHAT?! What on EARTH are you talking about Dad?”
Jock: “He’s here again… the one with the hat … and the leather jacket…”
Jock: “…he comes nearly every single day.”
Nonplussed we peered into the stygian gloom of the hallway to find only Spencer, hat in hand, grinning sheepishly.
“I hate to disappoint!” he said quietly.
Ha! Jock seemed totally unable to imagine that anyone would visit Rowland so often for any other reason.
Of course there was a reason. Music. And friendship.
Even in 94, Spencer seemed to have already played with everybody. In Europe being in more than one or two bands was viewed as suspicious, if not downright traitorous! Yet here was Spencer with multiple bands and projects bubbling up and down around him. It was different. A more fluid chaotic way of working, but Spencer managed it.
Like Harry, I’d been a little peeved when Rowland (back in Australia alone in late 93 he assumed absolute power and formed a ‘fake’ These Immortal Souls to play gigs: Rowland. Spencer, Peter Jones and Chris Walsh. The first time I heard Spencer playing my piano part from Marry Me with this dirty big grunge guitar sound, I thought… “Holy hell what happens now? Am I even needed…”
Eventually Harry and I slotted back into our old roles, Chris and Peter J left, but Spencer kept playing with us for another 15 months. He and I adapted, worked it out, became friends. (And we never did sound like duelling
banjos—always a fear of mine). These Immortal Souls + SPJ were louder, sometimes chaotic, but fantastic. And we did a mean version of The Low Road for a 2nd encore.
In 2008 Rowland and I spotted Spence over at the bar in Ding Dong. Me: “Spencer’s a dead ringer for someone tonight but I can’t think who… ”Rowland laughed and said, with not a flicker of doubt and much affection: “Andy Capp”
Spencer wasn’t Andy Capp … or the be-hatted gentleman of Jock’s imagination … he never asked me to think of him as an uncle Spencer … he was just Spencer … and boy will I miss him!
My heart is with Angie Alvin and everyone who ever loved him.
I won’t forget
Love, Gen X
Photo of Genevieve McGuckin and Spencer P Jones by Christopher Rimmer