Iain Shedden, a highly revered member of the Aussie music scene as both a performer and a journalist, has passed away at the age of 60.
News of Shedden’s death was broken today by The Australian, where he had worked for the past 25 years. While the cause of Shedden’s death has not yet been made public, countless members of the Australian music scene have been quick to express their sorrow in his passing.
Beginning his career as a musician and a journalist at the age of 17, Iain Shedden moved to London from his native Scotland after his band The Jolt were given a record deal by Polydor Records. Following the group’s breakup, Iain’s close friend Chris Bailey asked him to join in the new lineup of his band, Brisbane punk legends The Saints.
Joining the group in 1981, Shedden spent the majority of the next decade touring and recording with The Saints before relocating to Sydney in 1992, and joining The Australian as a sub-editor in 1993. Taking over as the publication’s music writer in 1998, a position he would hold until his untimely death, Shedden was praised for his unique insight into the psyche of the average musician.
“I have an understanding of (musicians) and I can talk about it from the inside,” he said during a 2004 interview. “I might get a nuance in a story that someone else might not because maybe other writers haven’t spent 12 years staying up all night.”
A story written by Iain Shedden in 1998 saw the acclaimed music writer look back on his time as The Saints’ drummer. “Touring the fleapits of northern Europe through rain and snow has its charms: the cultures change even if the weather doesn’t,” Shedden wrote. “But playing in a country, sometimes for up to three months, where each day was as hot and sunny as the last, was, to this particularly pale Scot, too good an opportunity to pass up. What else were you supposed to do all day?”
“Now it’s tough financially for even established Australian bands to tour, and visiting acts rarely step beyond the city centres,” he continued. “The ‘80s was a boom time for Australian rock music and, for some of us, the sun shone every day.”
Throughout his career as a music writer, Iain Shedden was lucky enough to some of music’s biggest names, including David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Jeff Buckley, Patti Smith, and Tom Waits.
A 2009 interview with Powerfinger’s Bernard Fanning saw Shedden asked to summarise his career in 50 words or less. “I have been incredibly fortunate in being able to make a living from the two things I love most, music and writing, for the past 35 years,” he said. “Although I did enjoy a couple of years as a truckie somewhere in the middle.”
In recent years, Shedden’s name was again thrust into the spotlight thanks to his collaborative effort with famed tour promoter Michael Chugg, co-writing the book Hey, You In The Black T-Shirt: The Real Story Of Touring The World’s Biggest Acts, which has since been considered a classic of Aussie music writing.
Iain Shedden is survived by his wife Christine, and two teenage children.
Iain Shedden was a gentleman, a wit, a thoroughly decent human, a proper newspaperman and a friend.
— Bernard Zuel (@BernardZuel) October 16, 2017
R.I.P. Iain Shedden: one of Australia’s best music journalists – and drummer for pioneering band The Saints. Vale. pic.twitter.com/yWuNg60aII
— TheIndustryObserver (@theindustry_o) October 16, 2017
A music lover, supporter of the Australian Music Industry and brilliant writer, Iain Shedden you will forever be in our hearts. pic.twitter.com/lcvpSxMuV5
— SplendourintheGrass (@SITG) October 16, 2017