Tributes flow for Tony Spizzica

Tony Spizzica, one of central Victoria’s most loved music personalities, passed away on Monday morning. 

“Spizz”, as he was affectionately known, had been battling esophageal cancer for three years.

He was the bass player in Bendigo band The Mockbells as well as a musician with The Croakers, The Caberettos, The Golden Squares and many other groups.

Michael Enever, who played alongside Spizz for more than 30 years, said the amount of support from family, friends and communities was heartwarming.

“The amount of support wasn’t surprising to me. There were hundreds of people I don't know that he knew. I don’t even know how he knew them,” Michael said.

“He was passionate about everything he did. He was passionate about the little things, the big things, music, family, food. Even coffee. He was a passionate man.”

Bendigo Blues and Roots Music Festival director Colin Thompson said it was inspiring to see Spizz go down fighting and on his own terms.

“He dealt with it in an incredibly dignified and brave manner. When I last saw him, a couple weeks ago, he was still more concerned for others than he was for himself,” he said.

Colin said Spizz’s support and encouragement of people was immeasurable.

Every time I felt like giving up (whether on BBRMF or anything at all), he was always quick to remind me of the important things in life and help me believe in myself and keep plugging away,” he said.

“I owe him a debt of gratitude and I'm sure there are a lot of people out there feeling the same way.

After being a panel beater until his mid-40s, Spizz decided to follow his passion for music.

Since earning his advanced diploma and bachelor of music he ran the music department at Echuca College.

“Spizz was always trying to get better, trying to improve things, improve his life and his playing,” Michael said.

“But above all that, he was a family man. They did come first before he did anything else.

“I know (his wife) Viv was a huge support when he was in the panel-beating business and then went back to uni, she took a lot of slack up with kids at home.”

Michael said he first met Spizz at a gig in Elmore.

“I can’t remember exactly but Maurice Frawley, who was a great muso from Elmore, had a few gigs at his farm. I was about 17 and it was definitely at a gig like that,” he said.

“We both had a passion for music but also a passion to not let it be a mediocre thing. Some bass players follow changes and do whatever is easy but Spizz never did that. He always wanted to make it sound right.

“He was also a great piano-accordion player. His dad made him play and he hated it but he ended up a great player. The Golden Squares was a band featured around him on piano-accordion.”

Earlier in the year, almost $20,000 was raised for the Spizzica family at a gig organised by Spizz’s bandmate Michael.

There was no shortage of bands wanting to take part in the gig with Spizz, who played alongside four of the 10 bands that took to the stage.

After the fundraiser Spizz said he appreciated every second of the day.

“I can be dragging arse and feeling like crap but when I play some music it energises me. The music always has a positive effect,” Spizz said.

“It was how I wanted it to be. The people there were all connected in some way or another.

“If I’m a conduit for that, I’ll happily take that. It was really well organised and run and the people were so generous. It was bloody good.”

The amount of support Spizz and his family got throughout his battle amazed the musician.

“It’s blown me away the support we are getting from the colleges I work for and the Bendigo music community,” he said.

“I never really dreamt that I would have that impact on anyone. All this was for me is someone playing music. I love my bass and have had good times and shared my music.”