There is a lovely statute of Billy Fury on the Liverpool waterfront, only a few hundred yards from the BME home in the Cunard Building. I walked past it this weekend and there were flowers laid at the statue’s base.
The flowers were put there by fans of the singer who every year celebrate his birthday. Billy was born on 17th April 1940 in Liverpool and christened with the slightly more ordinary name of Ronald Wycherley.
Fury is sometimes overlooked in the history of post war UK but he continues to be revered by a loyal army of fans over 30 thirty years after his early death in 1983. Here at the BME we recognise his stature and showcase Billy’s important role on in the rock ‘n’ roll explosion in post war UK.
His chart success gives you a snapshot of how big a deal he was. Fury had 24 hits in the 1960s (equal to The Beatles) although he never managed a number one and spent over 300 weeks in the UK chart.
In many ways Billy’s story is a classic rock n roll/rags to riches story. He played in a group while working full time on the Liverpool docks. He began writing his own songs and attended a show in Birkenhead in the hope of getting Marty Wilde interested in his songs. The show was run by the music entrepreneur Larry Parnes, who according to legend pushed Billy on to the stage. He was so impressed by what he saw that he signed him on the spot, added him to the tour and gave him the stage name Billy Fury. In another intriguing twist to the story a couple of years later Billy was looking for a new backing band. The job was offered to The Silver Beetles (later to become The Beatles) who were reportedly offered £20 a week on condition they sacked bass player Stuart Sutcliff. John Lennon refused but apparently he made sure he got Fury’s autograph before leaving.
Fury released his first single Maybe Tomorrow in 1959 and went on to have a string of hits.
If you have never listened to Fury then I’d urge you to change that now. He is undoubtedly one of the great post war rock voices. My go to track is always Wondrous Place. Have a listen and then come in and check out our coverage of Billy and the rock n roll era at the BME. Billy always looked like a proper rock n roll star and among our huge projections of some of the UKs biggest music stars is a stunning image of Billy performing in his pomp. After looking around the BME you can always take a short walk along the waterfront to see the marvellous statue that stands in tribute to his enduring talent.
Billy Fury – gone but definitely not forgotten