So Aussie rock legend Billy ‘Thorpie*’ Thorpe has departed this mortal coil, sending programmers at Gold FM into panic on what should’ve been known as One-Shot Wednesday but will henceforth be remembered as “the only other day Ronnie Burns has been dusted off for a quote since his kid won gold for Australia by imitating Chuck Norris”.

Tempting as it was to sit in the car and bang one’s head against the steering wheel as radio rolled out “Most People I Know (think that I died years ago, which is why only 150 payers attended my last show in San Remo)” on high rotation, yesterday also symbolised an important passage of time for Australia’s baby boomers and should be recognised thusly.

Suddenly the recent Countdown Arena classic let’s-all-point-at-Brian-Mannix-in-leather-trousers tour seems less a jovial frolic through throbbing adolescent memories and more a last drinks call for our over 50s. As heartfelt tributes from shocked friends poured in to the country’s media outlets (“The Oils would have noticed him,” erstwhile rock n roll monkey Peter Garrett stated in a frankly stunning outburst of emotion), the subtext of their message was clear: OMFG WE ARE NOT IMMORTAL. No longer was Billy Thorpe a man who may have enjoyed one too many sherberts; he was ‘only’ sixty, ‘relatively’ young (relative to what? George Burns?), in ‘rude health’. The spooky fact that Jimmy Barnes left the same hospital hours later after having open heart surgery was lost on no-one, least of all Barnesy who maintained a stunned silence and was later seen ‘touching wood’.

Chuggy has started making noise about a tribute concert, and I’m privately hoping for the kind of razzle dazzle send-off afforded to soul superstar James Brown, complete with Thorpie in an open casket as Frankie J Holden and Wilbur Wilde ‘jive’ awkwardly behind him and implore the audience to testify. It’s what he would have wanted, surely.

*which begs the question: how many people can hold claim to the one nickname? Is the Superfish allowed to call dibs and ditch the offensively lame ‘Thorpedo’ moniker now? Surely there’s some kind of committee set up to deal with this type of thing.

Peter Fray

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