Most people who knew didn?t think he was so crazy
By RACHEL AFFLICK, JANELLE McLENNAN and AAP
HIS family wanted him to play the bouzouki but as a kid Billy Thorpe fan Christos Nicolaou was inspired to turn up his guitar amplifier.
Now a fully fledged rocker and music store owner, Nicolaou believes he owes his path in life to Thorpe himself.
"Thorpe corrupted me and turned me to the way of rock," Nicolaou says. "He certainly damaged my hearing."
The Dorroughby guitarist was gobsmacked when he walked into the shop yesterday morning and heard his rock idol was dead.
Nicolaou's bandmate Stuart Kent, of Lennox Head, described Thorpe as a trailblazer of the pub rock movement.
"He has been an inspiration to me to stay true to rock," Kent said.
Aged 60, Billy Thorpe died in St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, about 2.30am from a heart attack.
He had just recorded a new album and finished an acoustic tour.
His band, Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs, became a rock sensation in the late '60s and early '70s with hits including Most People I Know (Think That I'm Crazy).
Bluesfest director Peter Noble yesterday paid tribute to Thorpe, who played in Byron Bay in '96, '98 and '99.
"I remember the first Bluesfest he played as the first time I got booked for a noise violation. He was always the loudest musician on the Australian festival scene," Mr Noble said.
"He is still regarded as one of the kings of music festivals in Australia."
Former Lismore-based music promoter Marius Els, who worked with Thorpe over the past 20 years, described him as a fantastic bloke who was an 'absolute bundle of positivity', and passionate about his music.
"He loved the North Coast. In particular he loved the North Coast's beaches," Els said from Sydney yesterday.