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Byron Shire
September 23, 2021

Vale Olli Wisdom – a life well lived

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Olli Wisdom a colourful, creative force of nature. Photo supplied

Emma Moses

The Byron Shire has long had a reputation for attracting colourful, larger than life characters. Arguably, Olli Wisdom would hold the title as the most colourful, creative force of nature to immerse himself in the region. Olli began his musical journey in a punk band, The Unwanted, recording a version of Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots Are Made for Walking’. Then in the early eighties as the frontman of glam goth group Specimen, he co-founded the Batcave, a weekly goth night in Soho, London, visited by the likes of Nick Cave, Robert Smith and Siouxsie Sioux.

In the mid-eighties the band split up and Olli commenced his journey through the emerging party scenes of Thailand and India. A true cosmic creator, it was during these adventures that Space Tribe was born. More than music, it was a lifestyle. He arrived in Australia in the mid-nineties, bringing the wildly psychedelic party scene to our shores. After a short time in Sydney he ventured north and made his home in the Byron Shire. He landed at the ‘banana shed’ in Yelgun, before setting up his Rainforest Space Base in Main Arm where he continued to produce his signature style epic psytrance symphonies. Many will remember his monumental DJ sets at parties and festivals in Australia and around the world. Before Byron discovered beige, the Space Tribe shop in Mullumbimby was the outlet for the Byron ‘uniform’ of the day. A lifestyle store, it was where you could outfit yourself, your children and your home with the Space Tribe signature fluoro fractals.

Whilst Olli was somewhat of an international superstar, to many in the Byron Shire, he was a dear friend. He raised his daughter Gzi here and was a beloved member of the Main Arm and Mullumbimby community. Not only did he rock international festivals, and dance floors in the bush and on the beaches, he is also fondly remembered for once stirring up a dancefloor frenzy at a Main Arm School disco at Kohinur Hall.

After 15 years of calling the Byron Shire home, Olli made London his base again where he continued to travel the globe infusing every destination with his psychedelic joy for life. Olli departed on his final cosmic journey on the 23 August 2021. He was greatly loved and will be missed by so many.

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  1. So many awesome memories of dancing under the full moon, starlit skies, sandy beaches, epicentre dance floor and dusty roads when Olli was spinning his magic! He’s a true icon of my childhood growing up in the Byron Shire, one that shaped and defined my young ears, eyes and mind. Thank you Olli for your musical genius, bright colours (and clothes) and contagious smiles! Your presence and vibrancy lives on in the heart and dancing feet of people who dance to your beats. May you continue to light up the skies with your joy! RIP xxx

  2. I had the privilege of knowing Olli and working with him on numerous occasions, providing enormous sound systems for his annual free Summer Solstice parties , booking him for numerous events and learning the craft of electronic music production at the Rainforest Space Base. Olli was one of the most extraordinary human beings I have ever met. A true and rare musical talent who could stir up a dance floor like no other. His legacy will live on through the countless number of people he inspired and his enormous influence as one of the founders of the global psychedelic trance movement that has blossomed into a burgeoning international, alternative music and festival culture. A memorable quote from Mr.Wisdom who often lived up to that name: ‘Most people spend their lives asking permission for their freedom. If you just take it for yourself ‘they’ have to try and take it back off you.’ Fly free Olli and thanks for being a huge inspiration in my life.

  3. A life well lived indeed. Olli you were a huge inspiration in my tender teenage years as the most AWESOME front man in the band Specimen, and still flying the freak flag for years afterwards with Spacetribe. It’s heartening to read how well loved you are, and always will be. Your music will still be touching people’s spirits long after we’re all gone.

    Batcavers and spaced out ravers all over the world salute you.


  4. Hey Olli
    Came across you before I even met you, in Goa many years ago.
    But thanks to that party , it did get off rather later than normal…, it was so exciting.
    I hid behind the speakers and saw everything, which in turn came straight back to me here in Byron Bay.
    I didn’t always like you, but you sheltered me and my baby daughter when we had nowhere else to go.

    You were so/so about that, but I will always be grateful,.
    Plus it made me realise how maybe you weren’t so strange, because you so always welcomed me, and my daughter.
    You gave me life and respect when I needed it, thank you Ollie and Gzi.
    That’s from Ocean Shores times.

    Gzi, my heart is with you sweet.
    I remember picking you up hitchhiking many times!!! Dad not happy!

    Look Gzi , he lives on in my heart 🌸


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