London police have launched a murder investigation following the death of a Wellington punk proponent after an early morning assault.
Steve Andrews, 46, was a key figure in Wellington’s early punk scene but had been living in London for about a decade.
It is understood he had been out celebrating his girlfriend’s birthday on Saturday night in Putney, southwest London.
London Metropolitan Police confirmed a murder investigation had been launched.
While police believe they know the identity, he still has to be formally identified.
Next of kin were aware, police said.
Police were called to a fight near the Duke’s Head pub on Lower Richmond Rd at 12.30am on Sunday (UK time).
He was taken to a south London hospital suffering serious head injuries and pronounced dead at 6pm on Sunday.
No arrests had yet been made.
Friend Nick Farrance had visited Andrews in London two months ago.
Andrews took Mr Farrance to the Tate Modern in London, and would often post photos of European castles on Facebook.
He had worked as a postman since getting to London about a decade ago.
He was due to return to New Zealand for a reunion tour with his Wellington band Vas Deferens.
Old friend Howard Levarko described Andrews as a “diamond geezer”.
“I can’t picture a world without Steve Andrews. He was a character. He was just a legend.”
He met him in the mid 1980s when they were both part of the Wellington punk scene, and said Andrews was friends with everyone.
“Everybody loved Steve. He would walk up to a complete stranger and talk to them. He was known by a hell of a lot of people.
“It’s hitting us pretty bloody badly.”
In the last few days, Andrews had posted photographs of himself on Facebook with British punk legend Mick Jones from The Clash.
Mr Levarko said that was testament to the way Andrews lived his life, and his friendly nature.
“He’s living the dream. He went up to these people and they seemed to warm to him.”
Childhood friend Drew Aitchison said details of the attack were sketchy but Andrews was never violent himself.
“He wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
Friends were “gobsmacked” by news of his death.
Following news of his death, Andrews’ Facebook page has become a tribute page.
Tom Larkin, from Shihad, wrote: “I’ll never forget you jumping on our table at midnight espresso at 4 in the afternoon and screaming a song to me and Sarah Stewart, freaking the shit out of every uni student in the whole place – I will miss you bud. RIP x.”
Darryl Ward described Andrews as “one of the most decent blokes I have ever known”.
A STREET LEVEL STAR
Andrews was the frontman for Wellington punk band Vas Deferens, which friends remembered as a raucous good-time live act that played around the capital throughout the nineties.
Dozens of heartfelt messages and reminiscences of Andrew’s larrakin presence on the Wellington music scene have been posted on Facebook since news of his death.
‘‘I hope you’re in your idea of heaven taking your place among the rock gods and goddesses. Gone way too soon, and senselessly. Prayers and deep condolences to Steve’s family, and friends near and far. RIP with the angels, sweetie XXX,’’ wrote Teuila Grace Tualaulelei on Andrews’ personal Facebook page.
Some who didn’t know Andrews personally remembered him as a fixture in Wellington’s Bohemian quarter, where he was often seen riding his BMX with his hair piled high, clad in denim jacket and brothel creeper shoes.
‘‘I remember just before I moved into town, he was one of the first cats I noticed, (just a wee wannabe i was) an dare i say, aspired to. RIP Steve. I never knew u very well, but will always will remember who you were, around the streets of our Punk City!!!!’’ Kevin Lapslie wrote on the Wellington Up the Punks fan page.
Rufus Dayglo wrote on Andrews’ personal Facebook page: ‘‘When I first met Steve…I was new in Wellington, He approached me, and gave me a flyer…. “You like Punk eh? Come see these guys, they’re the best punk band in Welly!”..So I turn up to the gig…and it’s him..on stage….Vas Deferens. Steve Andrews…One of a f**kin’ kind.’’
Friends said there was a real gentleman behind the larger-than-life persona.
‘‘Steve was a diamond geezer who will be remembered by many of the Wellington old guard. RIP Steve – very sad,’’ wrote Kapiti guitar-maker Dave Berry.
Photos of Andrews, almost always his punk rocker finery, were shared around Facebook by mourning friends. Band photos from the 90s emerged as well as a picture of him with Sex Pistols singer John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten.
‘‘Out of all the nameless fans that Lydon has met over the years I’ll bet he remembers Steve,’’ wrote Berry.