Words by Hugh Jones

Newport, May 2020

For a while I lived next door to a drummer in a rock and roll band. We became mates.

To be accurate, at this time Stephan Fidock’s rock and roll days were mostly behind him and his drumsticks appeared to be in retirement. But he’d had an exciting past, including with The Reels in the early ‘80s, and then Sacred Cowboys in the ‘90s. He’d toured the world and had been on Countdown.

When he moved in next door, around the early 2000s, Steph was working for a union as an organiser. Sometimes I’d meet him on my way to work as he was coming home from having worked through the early hours of the morning talking to migrant cleaners at Melbourne’s hotels about their rights and entitlements. Usually he was tired and angry that so many of these vulnerable workers were being exploited by some of our richest employers.

He liked cooking so we often socialised over food; he introduced us to delights such as barbecued eggplant strips wrapped around ricotta.

We didn’t always talk about music as I sensed a history there he was keen to let rest, but it was fun when we did. He told me Burt Bacharach himself had congratulated The Reels for their version of This Guy’s in Love, but only many years later did I discover Steph had sung La Mer on that same album, Beautiful.

One night we sat around the dinner table deciding the playlist of the Great Australian Songbook. (“We’d have to include Khe Sanh, wouldn’t we?” “Yeah, have to.”) Another night he brought around one of Johnny Cash’s last albums, mesmerised by the passion in his voice. We went to see Bob Dylan together, a favourite of our wives.

One day he arrived on our doorstep to say he and wife Ros w