Obituary to Lewes writer Simon Wells - written by Peter Grimwood
Simon Wells grew up in the Lewes and was a resident of the area is whole life, living on Lewes Road, Forest Row and High Street Hatfield.
It was with great sadness I learnt of the death of my friend Simon Wells before Christmas. He was a well known local author and musician
I first met Simon in the 1980’s when he was working for Kensington Central Library before his writing career took off. Even then he was writing articles for magazines on this favourite subject the 1960’s its culture, music and cinema.
He was very proud when his first book came out ‘Your Face Here: British Cult Movies of the 1960’s’ in 2001. His research was always exemplary which is why he was not more prolific. I remember he visited the multi-storey carpark from Get Carter taking multiple pictures and later campaigning to save it from demolition.
When he interviewed Christopher Lee about the Wicker Man he had to pay for a suite at a London hotel for Christopher to stay in before he would agree to the interview , thus blowing most of his profits to ensure he got everything right.
This lead to what he considered one of his greatest achievements in arranging a month long season of classic 60’s film for the National Film Theatre.
This was followed in 2005 by ‘The Beatles 365 Days’ and ‘The Beatles in Japan’ in 2006,always one of his favourite subjects, sadly he never did a more detailed book on them as he felt there wasn’t enough new material to add to the story.
In 2010 he wrote Charles Manson: Coming Down Fast once again drawing on his passion for the sixties and even speaking directly to the detectives in the case in America. His request to interview Manson was declined.
Butterfly On a wheel: The Great Rolling Stones Drugs Bust appeared in 2016 and lead to his only TV appearance in Michael Portillo’s series on little known archival material ‘Portillos State Secrets’.
He was somewhat peeved when Michael went on to give inaccurate information despite Simon putting him straight more than once. He had hoped this might lead to his ‘Visual History Of The Prisoner’ TV series getting made, for which he had already written the screenplay, but sadly it did not.
The making of Quadrophenia appeared in 2019 and sadly his last book ‘She’s A Rainbow: The Extraordinary Life Of Anita Pallenberg’ in 2021, once again drawing on his love of the sixties.
Even if you’ve never read one of his books you may well have read his background to many 60’s TV series when they were re-issued on DVD such as Catweasel and The Adventures of Robin Hood amongst others.
Simon was multitalented and was also a musician and song writer, singing his own songs with his guitar. I still remember his appearance at The Troubador in Earl’s Court many years on, and his appearance at the 100 club where many of his musical heroes had performed .
He published his first album ‘Sometimes in The Morning’ bringing these songs together. In keeping with his 1960’s fascination with counterculture he was often to be found at Stonehenge for the Solstices each year.
Writing never paid the bills and he also worked as a carer at a home for the elderly for many years where his gentleness despite his large size was a bonus.
He much enjoyed taking the residents out for trips and playing music with the songs from their past. He also appeared multiple times as Father Christmas
bringing joy to local children.
All in all he was a great human being, genuinely caring for others and I shall miss him.