Australian author and social commentator Richard Neville, who became famous as co-founder of Oz magazine, has died at the age of 74 from complications due to Alzheimer’s disease. He had been diagnosed in his 60s with the early onset of the disease.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono marched in rallies and also released a single to help raise funds for the defence of Neville and his partners Martin Sharp and Richard Walsh – who had moved the magazine with him to London – when they were charged with distributing an obscene publication.
The counterculture Oz magazine, known for its satire and pop art as well as serious journalism, was originally founded in Sydney in 1963 (first published on April Fool’s day) and took aim at the White Australia policy,the Vietnam War, the treatment of Aborigines, police brutality and more.
The UK version which began in 1967 was even more successful but it lead to its publishers being charged with “conspiracy to corrupt public morals” in what was at the time the longest obscenity trial in the history of British law. The trial resulted in prison sentences but that decision that was eventually overturned on appeal.
After his return to Australia, Neville published a number of books, became a speaker on the celebrity circuit and worked with the likes of feminist writer Germaine Greer, cartoonist Michael Leunig and filmmaker Phillipe Mora. He lived out his final years in the Blue Mountains.