With tomorrow marking two tragic rock anniversaries, to my great shame I failed to mark the 26th anniversary of the passing of Billy Fury, last week. At the age of just 41, Fury passed away on 28th January 1983. Between 1959 and the 1963 coming of the Beatles, only Cliff and the Shads were bigger. Billy Fury had it all; the looks, the charisma, movie roles and, above all, the voice.
I recall reading Ian Dury, a long time ago, stating that Britain had produced only two truly great singers; Johnny Rotten and Billy Fury. You can argue about Rotten, you can state a case for Burdon, Morrissey, Terry Hall or Dusty (Dury may have only been referring to male singers, I can’t remember for sure), but you cannot oppose the case for Fury.
His 1960 Sound of Fury album, is widely regarded as the greatest British rock ‘n’ roll disc. Here’s a fab Ready Steady Go clip of him singing Nuthin’ Shakin’, not on the album, but nicely illustrates his r’n’r pedigree.
My love for Billy Fury stems from being given a lovingly-made compilation tape by Bob Stanley in the mid-1980s. Although Fury had a stack of big hits, this tape was made up of minor hits, flops and rarities, predominantly from the mid-to-late 60s when his star was already on the wane. He moved from Decca to Parlophone, but the kids had moved on. His fans were that bit older and there was a whole new sound. It gives added poignancy to these tales of broken romance. The songs are stunning; I’ll Never Quite get Over You, Run to my Loving Arms, Paper Aeroplanes, I’m Lost Without You, Do My Best For You, This Diamond Ring, the heartbreaking Your Words and the awesome Hurting is Loving.
Hearing these slabs of heartbreak it is patently obvious why Morrissey was so enamoured and influenced by him. Here’s just two examples of the greatness, heck, the genius, of Billy Fury. Thanks and RIP.