ARIA Hall of Famer Normie Rowe takes to Melbourne stage in wheelchair following spider bite

Australian pop music icon Normie Rowe has been rolled onstage in a wheelchair after being bitten on the leg by a spider.

Renowned as a dynamic, physical performer, the singer, songwriter and TV and stage actor, 71, shocked fans at two shows at the Arts Centre Melbourne’s Hamer Hall over the long weekend when he was wheeled out to the stage to perform seated on a stool.

Rowe, who scored number one hits with Que Sera Sera and Ooh La La in 1965 and 1966 respectively, and played Douglas Fletcher in the 1980s TV soap Sons and Daughters, confirmed the bite had left him struggling to stand.

No creepy critter can keep Normie from entertaining his legion of fans

‘I remember seeing Hamer Hall from a wheelchair yesterday!,’ Rowe told the show’s hosts Ross Stevenson and John Burns.

‘I tell you what, it isn’t any fun. I think I was bitten [by a white-tailed spider] during the night in bed, it bit me on the calf.

‘I got up on a stool and was able to play the guitar. The audience were a lovely bunch of people, Melbourne audiences are very forgiving.’

The white-tailed spider is Australia's sixth most dangerous arachnid 

The white-tailed spider is Australia’s sixth most dangerous arachnid 

Native to southern and eastern Australia, the white-tailed spider is ranked the nation’s sixth most dangerous spider by Australian Geographic. It is so named due to the distinctive white tip at the end of its abdomen.

Its side effects can include local pain, a red mark at the site of the bite, local swelling and itchiness. Rarely it can cause vomiting, malaise, nausea and headaches.

In true trooper fashion, the star – who served a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1967 – decided the show must go on. Not wanting to disappoint his legion of fans, Rowe shrugged off the effects of the unsuspecting jab from of his eight-legged assailant to wow the audience at the two shows.

Normie Rowe circa 1965, ready to take on the Australian music scene

Normie Rowe circa 1965, ready to take on the Australian music scene

It was a jab of a different kind that Rowe faced head-on back in 1991 when he made headlines for a stoush with late Australian journalist and controversial radio talk-back star Ron Casey during a live TV debate on Ray Martin’s Midday Show on Nine. 

Rowe and Casey, who were participating in a panel debate on whether Australia should be made a republic, became involved in a row after after Rowe took umbrage to comments made by Casey. The latter punched Rowe in the face after the pop icon pushed him back into his chair when he stood to confront him. 

Casey died at Royal North Shore Hospital on Tuesday aged 89. His cause of death had not been revealed at time of publication.

Rowe’s entertainment career spans 53 years, during which time he released 13 albums. 

In 1992 he was made a Member in The Order of Australia for services to Vietnam veterans, the Entertainment Industry and the wider community. 

In 2002, the ARIA Hall of Famer received national acclaim for his performances in the successful Long Way To The Top concert tour.

According to Rowe’s official website, his current tour continues with the next scheduled performance on October 20 in Perth.