“And I ain't asking for nothing but my song and a cemetery wind/ cause if it's all right with you before I get back on the train/ I want to go out by Hank's tombstone and cry me up a thunderstorm chain/ cause I did want to see Montgomery In The Rain.” - Montgomery In The Rain - Steve Young

When I first interviewed Steve Young in Nashville in 1978 he revealed he was keen to showcase his song-writing down under.

So it was no surprise on his first Australian tour in 1989 he also wanted to soak up some rural culture.

First pit-stop was the Shipwreck Coast at Warrnambool where he slept the sleep of the just in an historic Hopkins River bank homestead.

Young, who died at 73 on March 17 in Nashville, needed the sleep.

Restaurateur and shire building inspector Francis Neoh - father of latter day Warrnambool City Council mayor Michael Neoh - hosted dinner for Young at his famed Malaysia Restaurant in Liebig Street.

Steve's photo, featuring local musicians including recent Dead Livers bassist and liver transplant recipient Michael Schack and Koroit singer-signwriter Duncan McKenzie, adorned the Malaysia restaurant's Liebig Street celebrity picture window for a decade or two.

The following day tour chauffeur-this diarist was assigned to drive Young from Warrnambool to Ballarat where promoter Keith Glass booked him for a gig at quaintly named Camp Hotel.

But en route our not-so-lonesome travellers' trip took us through the equally quaint Snake Valley - population 329 in 2006 - that featured an 1859 post office.

We also stumbled across the Snake Valley Hall.

“Maybe we should be doing the concert here,” Georgian born Young confessed to his chauffeur.

“I'm sure we could find a basket full of rattle snakes for the occasion. It does happen back home in the Deep South.”

But I had strict instructions from promoter Glass whose role as support act was not to be replaced by a basket of rattle snakes.

Besides, the audience that night included diverse country music buffs including Lawyers, Guns & Money guest Judge John Bowman who was on circuit in the historic gold mining city.

Judge Bowman was back in the news in the week of Steve's passing when he imposed a suspension on Black Caviar trainer Peter Moody for a cobalt calamity involving other horses in his Caulfield stables.


“Sometimes there's a part of me/ has to turn from here and go/ running like a child from these warm stars/ down the Seven Bridges Road/ there are stars in the Southern sky/ and if ever you decide you should go/ there is a taste of thyme sweetened honey/ down the Seven Bridges Road.” - Seven Bridges Road - Steve Young.

Steve Young was born in Newnan, Georgia - same hometown as latter day superstar Alan Jackson - on July 12, 1942.

He was raised in Alabama and strongly identified with famed native son, Hank Williams.

The Young family also lived in Texas during his boyhood.

At 17 he almost died when a gang shot him with a .32 Baretta after demanding money for drugs outside a Port Arthur bordello.

“The bullet went under the right armpit and into the chest,” Young told me.

“It cut an artery behind the heart but the doctors managed to patch it up while fighting to save me for two days. The bandits were after money I didn't have. They claimed it was an accident. They didn't mean the gun to go off. They were down and out and on the poverty line and drug addicts. They were scouting around looking for someone to rob and were jailed for 10 years.”

Steve decamped Texas for the New York City folk-music scene in Greenwich Village and later headed to California in 1964 and formed the band Stone Country.

On the West Coast he performed and recorded with Gram Parsons, Gene Clark and Chris Hillman - pioneers in the embryonic country-rock genre.

Young's debut LP Rock Salt & Nails was issued by A&M Records in 1968 with Parsons, Clark and guitar ace James Burton all playing on it.

Steve, a one-time postman like John Prine, tired of Hollywood and moved to Marin County where he ran the Amazing Grace guitar store there for several years before relocating to Nashville.

Waylon Jennings recorded Young's Lonesome, On'ry and Mean as title song of his 1973 album - first of his self-produced Outlaw collections.

Young's Nashville-recorded Seven Bridges Road appeared on Reprise Records in 1972 and has been reissued three times by other labels.

Honky Tonk Man was issued in 1975 by the Mountain Railroad label.

Steve also appeared in Outlaw music documentary Heartworn Highways in 1976, singing his song Alabama Highway.

The film also featured David Allan Coe, Charlie Daniels, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle and Larry Jon Wilson.

RCA picked up his recording contract and issued his two best known albums, aptly named Renegade Picker (1976) and No Place to Fall (1978).

Both were roots-music classics with hints of blues and gospel in his Southern country sound.

Label-mate Jennings also took him on tour as his opening act.

Hank Williams Jr. issued his versions of Young's Montgomery in the Rain and Long Way to Hollywood in 1977.

Travis Tritt revived Lonesome, On'ry and Mean in 2003.

Rounder Records reissued Steve Young's Seven Bridges Road (1981) and Honky Tonk Man (1984) and also put out To Satisfy You (1981).

By then Young had given up drugs and alcohol and was known as a Zen cowboy and explored spirituality in his music.

The Eagles scored a pop and country hit with Seven Bridges Road in 1981.

It was also recorded by artists diverse as Joan Baez, Eddy Arnold, Rita Coolidge, Tracy Nelson/ Mother Earth , Ian Matthews, Josh Graves, Lonzo and Oscar, Atlanta, Carter Family , Dolly Parton and Alan Jackson.

Steve's son Jubal Lee & Amanda also covered it when Jubal appeared on The Voice - U.S. season 9.

Recorded in Sweden, his 1985 album Look Homeward Angel added synthesizers to his sound.

Steve's intensity and conviction as a live performer made him a cult favourite in Europe and Australia.

His 1990 collection Long Time Rider was recorded in the Netherlands.

He issued his first concert recording Solo/Live in 1991 on Watermelon Records - it also issued 1993's Switchblades of Love .

Steve also released 2000's Primal Young , 2006's Song-lines Revisited and 2007's Stories Round the Horseshoe Bend .

Jubal Young released a solo CD, On a Dark Highway, after appearing on The Voice in 2015.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

Steve believed in reincarnation.

Jubal, posted on Facebook , on Thursday "My father, Steve Young, passed peacefully tonight in Nashville. While it is a sad occasion, he was also the last person who could be content to be trapped in a broken mind and body. He was far too independent and adventurous. I celebrate his freedom, as well, and I am grateful for the time we had. A true original."

CLICK HERE for a 1999 interview with Steve in The Diary on December 14, 2006.

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