Rockbrat Remembers: Pete Wells – Who Left Us Seven Years Ago Today

Pete live in 1998 – (pic: Denis Gray)

Seven years back today – Pete Wells passed away. No one – and I mean no one – played better slide guitar than Pete. I am not just saying this, as Pete is no longer with us either – as I have long believed that his guitar sound – was a vital ingredient to the sound of Rose Tattoo. Try as they might – I am yet to hear Guns n Roses doing a take of ‘Nice Boys’ which sounds half as good as the Tatts…..because no one can play it like Wells did ! His sounds is so instrumental to that cut, like so many other Rose Tattoo numbers. The legacy of Peter Wells lives on and everyday, when some kid listens to Assault and Battery or that first album from 1978 – they are hearing smoking slide guitar from one of the very best. One of my best Pete memories was sometime in 1991 – at the Espy in St Kilda. I think it was a mid-week gig and the hard-hitting Warwick Fraser was in Pete’s band. They blew the roof of that beachside pub and were very loud. During a break in the set – I heard someone say ‘Thorpie’s backstage’ – which indeed – he was. Remember that Thorpe had been absent from Australia for some years. So there was Billy Thorpe – standing with a beer with Michael Gudinski – watching the Pete Wells band in red hot form. A great night of Pete Wells rock n roll – though there were several over the years. One other occurred in the late summer of 1993 – at a night club in the country town of Wagga Wagga – called Copacabana.  The Tatts were back – due to support GnR and were doing what coulda been their first show back. I stood in front of Pete – and felt the enormous power of Rose Tattoo being blasted out. This was not lightweight 1986 ‘Calling/Falling’ Tatts – this was the real fucking deal. Cocks, Wells, Leech, Anderson and DeMarco – the boys were back in town and were not here to mess about either. I will always remember that night – Wells, dressed in black – standing with a ciggie in his mouth – in front of his amp – sweating profusely as he played – leaning over that mike stand the way he did –  doing what he did best – better than most others in fact. Your music lives on – and you live forever in the hearts of many. (Mr Rockbrat)

Pete’s slide playing certainly provided some distinction to the Tatts sounds – and even though in 78 they were all calling Alberts home – the sound of the Big  3 (Angels, AC/DC and the Tatts was certainly distinct from each other – and the Tatts sound largely due to the slide playing. With Cocksy at stage left providing the rapid fire riffs, and Rilen/Geordie laying down the heavy rhythm –  Wellsy has plenty of space to create what are now considered, classic slide guitar parts. Looking back – guys like Wellsy were so iconic, so authentic. Revered by those who knew a thing or two about rock n roll – his style, look and sound was shamelessly aped by hordes of Sunset Strip wannabes in the late 80s who cashed in with a look and sound that Wellsy has forged a good decade or so earlier. As time marches on – I often reflect on those great times I saw Wellsy over the years – good memories locked away.  I remember one night in 92 (I think) at Barry McCann’s Lansdowne Hotel at Broadway – heading upstairs (the only band I ever saw upstairs at the Lansdowne) to see a one off performance by ROMEO DOG – a band featuring Andy Anderson on vocals/guitar, Wellsy on vocals/slide, Andy Cichon on bass and Mick O Shea on drums – for under $10! I bought a German copy of their CD and had all the guys sign it for me. That’s a good memory – though I have many of Pete. Never forgotten. (Cowboy Col)

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