BILLY FURY

Anyone can find the Biographical facts about Billy via the various sites on the web eg : born Ronald Wycherley, 17th April 1940, in Dingle, Liverpool, England. Died 28th Jan. 1983, worked on the Tug Boats, etc. and most of the reports are accurate and the articles well written so I don't have to repeat those facts here. I worked on Billy's later recordings, the ones that didn't go far I'm afraid. But I did get to know him quite well in the mid to late 60's. I found him to be a very nice, ordinary guy. That's what I liked about him. There was none of that " Hey, I'm Billy Fury, The Rock Star " Bullshit. I first met Him 1960/61 when we were going on the tour with Gene Vincent. He appeared to me to be a very shy, lonely guy. He was around 6ft tall, a very good looking guy and the chicks were nuts about him. On that tour were Gene, Billy, Joe Brown, Georgie Fame and a whole melange of musicians including yours truly. Now as you may know, a big part of any artist's show in those days was his stage dress. Gene had his crazy combinations, Joe Brown had a suit that was half red, half green, like-one red arm, one green arm, one red leg etc. That was weird in those days. But Billy outdid everybody.  At the Empire Theatre, Glasgow, Scotland, my home town, Billy shimmered onto the stage in a gold lame suit. Oh yes, when the spotlights hit that suit it was a double whammy. But right from the beginning of that show we had trouble. Glasgow has always had a reputation for having "Heavy" audiences, and the audience wanted Gene. No one else. Through the various acts we had to endure growing verbal abuse from the crowd, such niceties as " Get the fuck off the stage, you're fucking rubbish, you bag of Shite " and those were the COMPLIMENTS. But nothing got out of control until Billy appeared. Now Billy was more of what I would call a "Static" Mover.


Where Vince would have that liquid thing going all the time, Billy would adopt a very "Elvis" type stance, shirt collar up at the back of the neck, arms hanging a la Elvis, and he'd send it.Then, during the instrumental choruses, he'd do that rock walk on his toes, hit a pose, and freeze it for about 5 seconds, his gold lame suit blazing in the spotlight, and continue with a series of these steps and freezes until he came back into the song again. I thought it was tremendously impressive, like a series of illuminated rock show slides. But the Glasgow audience didn't want it. They didn't want anything or anyone except Gene. And those 5 second "freezes" were a dangerous idea because all of a sudden a shower of missiles descended onto the stage. "Bang !!" a noise similar to a bomb going off almost deafened us. The audience up in the balcony { up in the Gods} were ripping the big, brass ashtrays off the back of seats and throwing them at us ! These things had been there since 19- God knows when, and must have weighed half a kilogram each. And Billy is still singing and strutting and doing his series of "Freezes" in his beautiful golden suit. " BANG !! " Again. An ashtray hits Red Reece's ride cymbal, and tears a big gash in it ! These things are descending in an arc of some 50 ft. and are coming at a helluva velocity. The Audience has now become a mob. All out of control, screaming for our blood, they start making for the stage. We exit the stage extremely quickly and the fire-curtain comes down. Everybody starts blaming Billy." It's that fucking suit of yours Man." and silly things like that. We were all horrified, but this changed to wonderment and a strange sense of pride as the cops arrived. Van loads of cops. There was fighting in the theatre, in the foyer, in the street, we hadn't seen anything like it since the American Rock Movies. And Billy's Lovely gold suit got the blame.I didn't see much of Billy again until the recording sessions in the mid 60's.


Then Billy's girl friend, Lee, who had become friends with my wife, invited us down to Billy's place one Sunday afternoon around 1966 / 67. Billy had a beautiful home in a village called " Ockley " about 30 miles outside London. It was an old Victorian house, about six rooms or so, on 4 or 5 acres of land. He had two gardeners to look after the place. Billy's hospitality was wonderful. He was a very, warm, sensitive person, and the whole afternoon was extremely relaxed and just a nice vibe. He was very fond of my son, and gradually became "Uncle Billy " to him. Billy had a childlike quality about him, not CHILDISH, but childlike. An innocence. He loved animals. He was crazy about birds and even had his own aviary. He would help endangered species, treat wounded or injured wild life, and had a dozen dogs and a few cats, an african grey parrot called Smokey plus a few horses. He had a big Rhodesian Ridgeback called Bozey and Billy used to say " Go to bed Bozey" when the dog got under his feet, which was most of the time. So the parrot picks this up and it was very funny to watch the big dog wander around until the Parrot said " Go to bed Bozey" and the dog would climb into bed. Billy had a big swimming pool but as the British weather is not suitable for outdoor swimming most of the year, he would sail model boats in it . An assortment of little sailing boats, motor boats, racing boats etc. Then he'd get his airgun and shoot them full of holes, like in a battle. The last time I saw the pool was in the winter. The pool was empty, and on the bottom lay all these little shot up boats. There was nothing vicious about it , more like a bored kid. Don't forget, Billy couldn't go anywhere without being recognised. So a lot of his time was spent at home and I'm sure he was lonely a lot of the time, and like I say, bored. But we'd go over to Billy's regularly and often there would be 15-20 people there on a Sunday afternoon. People in the Business.


Producers, M.D's, D.Js, and the company was always well catered for by Billy. He was a very generous guy. And the atmosphere was always nice. Always laid back and we'd listen to the BeeGees, drink wine, eat nice food and gradually we'd all talk shit. Yes, those days were nice. Oh , Billy's love of animals ? He loved them so much that one room in the house was set aside purely for his White Mice. They were in big glass cages of course, but there must have been a hundred or more. All divided into little communes, I don't think he had the heart to get rid of them. He probably started with a few and then the numbers just grew and grew . We also spent a couple of Christmases with Billy, and they were good old-fashioned Christmases. The turkey, funny hats, playing toy intruments, all nice, innocent kids' stuff and never a bad vibe. But around 1968 Billy had a new love in his life. literally. a new lady. And so he sold the house in Ockley, moved on to another beginning, and gradually we lost touch, my wife, my son and I look back on that short time with Billy with great fondness. God Bless you Billy. You were a Lovely Human Being.-  

                                                          (c) Joe Moretti …June 24 / 01    

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