Andrew “Greedy” Smith, Mental as Anything’s cherubic frontman, songwriter and keyboardist who penned and took vocal duties on the band’s biggest hit “Live It Up,” died Monday (Dec. 2) after suffering a heart attack in his car. He was 63.
Born in Sydney, Smith was a constant with the Mentals since their core members met at art school in the mid-70s, and decided to form a band. Smith was in the lineup when the Mentals, as they’re affectionately known in these parts, performed their first gig on Aug. 17, 1977.
A jovial presence behind the keys, Greedy shared singing duties with Martin Plaza (real name Martin Murphy) on the new wave outfit’s long run of hits, which saw them emerge as one of Australia’s most beloved bands of the 1980s, or any era.
If you asked any Aussie with a passing knowledge of music in the ‘80s to identify Greedy Smith, they could always spot the blonde, cheery chap from the Mentals.
According to legend, Smith earned his “Greedy” nickname for his ferocious appetite for fried chicken. On one night early in his career, Smith was said to have eaten 15 pieces, a feat so impressive it earned him a nickname for life.
The Mentals got a break with their August 1979 single release “The Nips Are Getting Bigger,” a nod to their affection for booze. A full-length LP followed soon after, Get Wet, through Regular Records with distribution by Festival Records.
The party was just getting started. A swag of tunes followed, “(Just Like) Romeo and Juliet,” “Too Many Times,” “Let’s Cook,” “Working for the Man.” And in 1982, while on tour Down Under, Elvis Costello produced the Mentals’ “I Didn’t Mean To Be Mean.”
In 1985 — with the classic lineup of Greedy Smith, Martin Plaza, Reg Mombassa, Peter O’Doherty and Wayne Delisle — the band entered the big league with their happy-go-lucky track “Live It Up,” which took flight when it appeared on the Crocodile Dundee soundtrack.
With Greedy on the mic and the star of its music video, “Live It Up” went global, peaking at No. 3 in the U.K. and hitting the chart summit in Australia. Smith wrote “Live It Up” and “You’re So Strong,” both of which appeared on the Richard Gottehrer-produced album Fundamental from 1985.
Over the course of their decades long career, the Mentals accumulated 20 national top 40 hits, including 5 top tens. Since Get Wet, there have been 15 studio albums and their Greatest Hits set reached No.1 in May 1986.
In 2009, Mental As Anything was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame alongside John Paul Young, Kev Carmody, Little Pattie, and the Dingoes. Greedy was on a national tour with the band when he passed away.
He is survived by his son Harvey, fiancée Fiona Docker and brother Stuart.
Musicians, celebrities and politicians turned to social media to pay tribute to the late artist.
We are extremely sad to hear about the passing of Andrew “Greedy” Smith. As a member of Mental As Anything @mentalsofficial, he was inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame in 2009. He was a huge character, with a big smile and boundless energy. That energy will be sorely missed. pic.twitter.com/T3rjEaXeAV
— ARIA (@ARIA_Official) December 3, 2019
We are shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden and unexpected passing of Andrew (Greedy) Smith
— Reg Mombassa (@regmombassa) December 3, 2019
So sorry to learn of Greedy’s death today. Played a great fest w/ him just last Sat, was in fine form. Condolences to family & MAS. “Mental As Anything’s ‘Greedy’ Smith dies”| The New Daily https://t.co/NXZCx777Wg
— Ross Wilson (@rosswilsonmusic) December 3, 2019
Rock in Peace to my friend Andrew “Greedy” Smith. Saddened and shocked by his passing, a travelling troubadour till the end, a heart of Gold! “Always thinking of you” my mate. Anto
— Anthony Field (@Anthony_Wiggle) December 3, 2019
Vale Greedy Smith you goldenheart. xhttps://t.co/yQker0DIre
— Marieke Hardy (@mariekehardy) December 2, 2019
We all have the sad face today. https://t.co/Q1RNW3HRdi
— Mark Scott (@mscott) December 3, 2019
Greedy Smith and Mentals Get Wet first album launch at Bondi Iceburgs pool. 1979/80. Regular records. pic.twitter.com/ewK6gRnuhl
— Jonathan Coleman (@jonocoleman) December 3, 2019
— Michael Rowland (@mjrowland68) December 3, 2019
So sad to hear of the sudden passing of the great Greedy Smith from Mental As Anything yesterday. A true Australian rock legend and all round good guy. Condolences to his family. Thanks for the awesome songs Greedy. Here’s one of my favourite’s —- https://t.co/1pxNGU3HgC
— Jane Kennedy (@Jane_L_Kennedy) December 2, 2019
Vale Greedy Smith, an important part of mix tapes recorded off the radio in my youth — https://t.co/G4DyzXl9nD
— Adam Bandt (@AdamBandt) December 3, 2019
Another top bloke gone, just learned of Greedy Smith’s passing from the band mental as anything,
Such a character who always pulled up and yarned at the airport , always! Love to his family , I’m not liking this week. #musicicon pic.twitter.com/eTW36wwdu8
— Troy Cassar-Daley (@troycassardaley) December 3, 2019
Such sad news. Greedy Smith was responsible for some great Australian songs. Thinking of his family, friends and fans. He truly was a legend. https://t.co/uhTlJRowGR
— Tanya Plibersek (@tanya_plibersek) December 3, 2019
Im sorry to tell you greedy smith had a heart attack and died last night . Greedy always the perfect gentleman and bloody great laugh. I will miss you pal RIP —-
— John Swan OAM (@swanee01) December 3, 2019
Beyond sad to hear of the passing of Greedy Smith… Such a kind,lovely man and an enormous talent.
Soundtrack to many a great party over so many years!
It was a pleasure to know him. Condolences to friends and family xx
— Wendy Harmer (@wendy_harmer) December 3, 2019
— Richard Wilkins (@RichardWilkins) December 3, 2019