The Stems founding member and local music legend Richard Lane dies

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Simon CollinsThe West Australian
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The Stems in 2007, with Richard Lane on far left.
Camera IconThe Stems in 2007, with Richard Lane on far left. Credit: Supplied by Subject

Richard Lane, founding member of much loved Perth garage rock band the Stems, has died. He was in his mid-50s.

The talented guitarist and keyboard player formed the group with frontman Dom Mariani in 1983 before releasing their debut At First Sight, Violets are Blue in 1987.

Featuring loved-up lead single At First Sight, the album earned the Stems a national profile — they performed on the final episode of Countdown — before intraband tensions and the rigours of touring led to their premature split in November, 1987 on the eve of six-week European tour.

The Stems reformed in 2003, touring overseas and releasing long-awaited second album Heads Up in 2007, before quitting again in 2009.

The Stems in their 80s heyday, with Richard Lane second from left.
Camera IconThe Stems in their 80s heyday, with Richard Lane second from left. Credit: Supplied

Lane has not been part of more recent reunions with guitarists Ash Naylor (Even, Paul Kelly) and Davey Lane (You Am I) filling his role.

Away from the Stems, Lane founded the Chevelles and played in local bands the Painkillers, the Rosebuds and the On and Ons.

In the 90s, through his independent record label Idaho Records, he issues releases from the Jackals, A Month of Sundays, No Flowers No Wedding Dress, Rawkus and other local acts.

Lane’s former band mates — Mariani, Julian Matthews, David Shaw and John Shuttleworth — confirmed his death on social media on Tuesday morning.

“With great sadness we have learned that Richard Lane, a foundation member of The Stems, has passed away,” they posted on Facebook.

“Dom, Jules, Dave and John would like to express their condolences to both Richard’s family and his legion of friends. We know he will be sorely missed by all who knew him.”

They were mysterious ... for young men who hailed from Perth.

Bob Gordon

Respected Perth music writer Bob Gordon paid tribute to Lane, who apparently was found dead the morning after a rehearsal with one of his current bands, Big Bossman.

“Like most interesting characters, he was complicated,” Gordon wrote of his late friend via a lengthy Facebook post.

“I had often gone to see the Stems when I was a comparative youngster in the 80s — places like the Shenton Park Hotel, the Broadway Tavern, the Red Parrot, Curtin Uni and even once with the Hoodoo Gurus at the Perth Entertainment Centre.

“Then they broke up seemingly with the world at their winklepickers and the keys to the kingdom in their possession,” Gordon added. “They were mysterious, as impossible as that was, for young men who hailed from Perth.”

The cause of death is currently unknown.

Lane is survived by partner Cathy and daughter Penny.

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