IT was inevitable that Jon Stevens finding love with his longtime friend, philanthropist Heloise Pratt, would inspire a song on his latest solo record Starlight.
His friend Vanessa Amorosi sings with him on the song Something Bout You, which Stevens admits was needed to balance the harder edges of his album.
The rocker and the heiress had been friends for many years and began dating just over a year ago after the bitter end to Stevens’ three-year engagement to model and fashion designer Jodhi Meares.
“I thought I should balance the rest of it out … a happy love song. You’ve got to be living it, feeling it to write those,” he says.
Starlight was written and recorded with the famed Eurythmics star Dave Stewart and also features cameos by Ringo Starr, Richie Sambora, Orianthi and his rapper son Levi Jay.
Stevens and Stewart were introduced to each other by Amorosi in LA.
The English producer seeks out artists with powerful voices to work with and had listened to Stevens’ back catalogue.
“I walked in the door and the first thing he said to me was ‘do you drink?’ I mentioned I’ve been known to have a couple and he says ‘Good. Martinis at 7’,” Stevens says, laughing.
“Civilised, he’s very civilised. That broke the ice and within 10 minutes we were working.”
Stewart wanted to know where Stevens’ head — and heart — were at. He had listened to his 2015 album Woman and had read about the ugly breakup with Meares.
“He was up to speed on what I had been through in recent times and wanted to see where I was at, to use those emotions,” said Stevens.
“He knew I wore my heart on my sleeve. And you have to just get it out otherwise it festers and burns your soul.”
Stevens relocated to Melbourne last year to be close to his children, Levi and Millie and grandchildren Summer and Leo.
He loves to take Summer to school and wander around St Kilda when he is home. Stevens and Pratt travel together and separately overseas regularly for work and “meet in the middle when we can.”
“I followed my kids, of course. It was lonely without them in Sydney,” he says.
“And I have sisters and brothers who live here, nieces and nephews. I was the last one in Sydney.
“I still love Sydney, I love the beaches, but I love my family more and the spare time that I do have, that’s where I spend it. With my grandkids.”
Stevens also explores the perennial rocknroll themes of hitting rock bottom and the spectre of death on the new record.
Hailing from a big family whose ranks have been decimated by heart problems and suicide, Stevens say he isn’t so much preoccupied by the inevitability of the grim reaper as he is accepting of it.
His own brush with death eight years ago has influenced a song here and there.
RIP Millie, which he recorded with Noiseworks in 1991 after his mother passed, still resonates with fans who often share their stories of how it has helped them through grief.
“I was that close, shit yeah, a couple of times. Before the heart operation, which I didn’t know how close so thank God I went for a check up, I was dead man walking,” he says.
“And after the operation I got a staph infection in my chest. It puts things into perspective big time.
“Death isn’t a shadow in my life it’s just an awareness. In the second half of your life, you hear about this one and that one gone and you just want to live your life. We all tend to think it’s never going to end.”
Starlight debuted on the ARIA charts in the top 20 and Stevens heads overseas next month to support its release there with gigs, including an appearance at the legendary Isle of Wight festival.
He has maintained a regular presence in Europe and America, first with Noiseworks, then with INXS and continuing now as a solo artist.
Stevens has been sharing stages with John Farnham and Jimmy Barnes on recent big gigs but says he has no qualms playing dives either after more than three decades in rock’n’roll. He just wants to play.
“It would be good if (the record) got played on radio. I know that’s not going to happen,” he says.
“So you just go out there and play and that is what keeps you going. I am shithouse at sitting at home for a couple of weeks, I climb the walls.”
Jon Stevens performs with Jimmy Barnes at Fernhill Estate, Mulgoa, Sydney, on May 7 with Starlight tour dates expected in July.
SOURCE: newsnow entertainment