Tributes flow for Tumbleweed's Jay Curley

The music of Tumbleweed blared out of record and CD players on Tuesday in tribute to the band’s bassplayer, Jay Curley, who passed away on Monday.

The band broke the sad news to their fans via their Facebook page on Tuesday morning.

‘‘It is with deep sadness that we inform everyone of a great loss in the Tumbleweed family, our brother, friend and bass player Jay Curley passed away suddenly in his home yesterday,’’ the message read.

‘‘We are still shocked by the news of his death. We hope that people will remember him for his music, his big heart and his total dedication to rock and roll.’’

Curley had only moved into the Tarrawanna house a few months earlier.

Jay Curley was one of the original members of Tumbleweed, along with brothers Lenny and Dave, who left not long afterwards.

The band is the biggest rock act to come from Wollongong. They supported Nirvana on their only Australian tour and released four albums before the group breaking up in 2003.

They surprised fans by reforming in 2009 and released a well-received album, Sounds From The Other Side, last year. 

Comments from devastated fans have been flooding into the band’s Facebook page.

The band is still reeling from the loss, with guitarist Paul Hausmeister calling Curley, ‘‘the face of Wollongong rock’n’roll’’.

‘‘Long hair, big smile, tattoos on the outside with a warm, loving, gentle soul on the inside,’’ Mr Hausmeister said.

‘‘Always had time for a chat, a beer and a laugh.’’

He said Curley boasted a natural talent for ‘‘killer bass riffs’’ and showed total commitment to his craft.

‘‘He has inspired countless musicians over the last 30 years and will continue in the future.   

‘‘The Australian rock’n’roll community has lost a great musician and a great bloke. We have lost a great mate.’’

Luke Armstrong, who plays in the bands Hytest and Bruce! with Curley’s brother Mick, had bass lessons with Curley.

‘‘We went round there a couple of times and sat there with him,’’ Mr Armstrong said.

‘‘He had a little room off the front of the Tumbleweed jam room and that’s where we used to have the bass lessons.

‘‘A lot of the lessons weren’t even playing bass, they were just sitting around listening to him tell stories about touring with Nirvana and things like that.’’

Despite those lessons, Mr Armstrong said he still can’t play the Tumbleweed songs and give them the same feel that Curley did.

Mr Armstrong said he remembers Curley as ‘‘a happy go lucky guy’’.

‘‘I’ve known him since I was 13, 14 years old,’’ he said.

‘‘He was the most generous guy you could ever meet. He would give the shirt off his back to anyone who was doing it tougher than him.’’

Warren Wheeler, creator of the Wollongong music history website Steel City Sound, said he had only spoken to Curley a few times.

‘‘I think that’s quite indicative of his demeanour,’’ Mr Wheeler said.

‘‘Even onstage he’d be the one standing further back, not wanting to take the limelight.

‘‘His bassplaying was of a similar style, it didn’t overpower what was going on. He kept it very simple and very straightforward and that was the brilliance of it.

‘‘I think he did it so well because who he was. He was very much someone who just didn’t seek the attention.’’

He said Curley’s death was a ‘‘big loss’’ and paid tribute to his band’s effect on Wollongong.

‘‘Tumbleweed are Wollongong’s biggest rock export in living memory,’’ he said.

‘‘They have inspired a lot of people, not just to play music, but to be true to themselves, to express themselves.

‘‘They were a lesson to people of Wollongong that if you ply your trade and you do it well you can succeed.’’

The band was due to headline the Young Henrys Small World street festival next month. 


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