Fuller Up The Dead Musician Directory 
Ian Dury
Ian Dury
March 27, 2000
Age 57 
Colon/Liver cancer 
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Editor's Pick:  Jukebox Dury

                        U.K. Rock Icon Ian Dury Dead At 57
                    Ian Dury, one of the best-loved individuals in recent U.K. music  
                    history, died earlier today after a long battle with cancer.  He was 57.  

                    Lovers of Dury's uniquely charming, quintessentially London-born music 
                    -- which blended elements of new wave, pub rock, and music hall 
                    -- had been bracing themselves for the news for some time, 
                    although Dury had continued to work until only a few weeks ago.  
                    He played the London Palladium last month and helped his   
                    friends in Madness to promote their recent single "Drip 
                    Fed Fred," on which he made a cameo appearance. 

                    Dury had spoken openly and with typical good humor 
                    about his illness since it was publicized in 1998. Then, 
                    in a newspaper interview, he revealed that he had been 
                    suffering from cancer of the colon since 1995, and that 
                    it had spread to his liver. 

                    He first emerged during the pub rock era of the early 
                    1970s, with Kilburn & the High Roads, who recorded 
                    for WEA and Pye. But it was when his band, Ian Dury 
                    & the Blockheads, signed to Stiff Records in the 
                    summer of 1977 that he really found his voice with his 
                    inimitable Cockney narratives. The following year, the 
                    "New Boots And Panties" album became an enduring 
                    classic of the new wave era, even if it sounded quite 
                    unlike anything else from the period. It produced the 
                    anthemic U.K. No. 1 single "Hit Me With Your 
                    Rhythm Stick." 

                    In 1979, the band followed up with "Do It Yourself," 
                    which was their biggest U.S. success, reaching No. 
                    126 on the Billboard pop singles chart." A succession 
                    of less successful releases led Dury towards a new 
                    career as an actor and stage writer. On the death of 
                    Blockheads drummer Charley Charles from cancer in 
                    1990, the band reformed for London gigs and 
                    continued to make occasional, affectionately received 
                    appearances on the live circuit during the decade. 

                    Dury's defiant attitude to the disease mirrored his 
                    attitude to polio, from which he'd suffered since the age 
                    of seven. In 1998, he became a goodwill ambassador 
                    for UNICEF, publicizing and taking part in a polio 
                    immunization program in Sri Lanka. 1998 also brought 
                    a modest return to the charts and a reunion with the 
                    Blockheads, for the acclaimed album "Mr. Love 
                    Pants," released on Ronnie Harris Records (named, 
                    Dury said, after his accountant). 

                    Dury leaves behind a cast of vivid characters in his 
                    songs both real and imaginary, including "Clevor 
                    Trevor," "Sweet Gene Vincent," and "Billericay 
                    Dickie." His unquenchable joie de vivre was admirably 
                    characterized in such classic recordings as "Sex And 
                    Drugs And Rock And Roll," "I'm Partial To Your 
                    Abracadabra," and "Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3." 

                                           -- Paul Sexton, London / Billboard

British punk poet Ian Dury dies of cancer at 57

By John O'Callaghan 

LONDON (Reuters) - Ian Dury, the gravelly voiced British entertainer who mixed punk rock attitudes with a thick streak of humor in such songs as ``Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick,'' died of cancer Monday at age 57, his agent said. 

Partially paralyzed by polio as a child, Dury became an unlikely star at 35 when his 1977 debut album  "New Boots and Panties'' propelled him and his band, The Blockheads, to critical acclaim and a yearlong stay in the British charts. 

His wry Cockney wit and wink of the eye came through loud and clear in songs like "Clever Trevor'' and "Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll,'' his lampoon of the music industry. 

Dury's style made him a seminal influence on pop music ranging from the ska sounds of Madness to the pop-punk of Blur. 

"I'M Here To Be Alive''

Madness singer Suggs hailed Dury as ``more of a poet than a rock 'n' roll artist'' and credited him with opening minds to ``all the possibilities for people that didn't look like rock stars.'' 

 After stints as an actor, screenwriter and television host, Dury returned to the music scene last year with ``Mr. Love Pants,'' his first album with The Blockheads in nearly two decades. 

He familiar face was back on British TV this year, advertising the Times newspaper. 

As his health deteriorated after an earlier bout of colon cancer spread to his liver, Dury refused to be down-hearted. 

``I don't spend a lot of time shaking my fist at the moon,'' he told BBC radio last year in a retrospective on his career. ``It doesn't make you feel any better, I'm sure, plus 50 percent of any battle you're in is your spirit.'' 

Born on May 12, 1942, in Upminster, east of London, Dury initially decided on a career in art and taught the subject until he was 28 before getting his musical start by playing in pubs and clubs around London. 

He leaves his wife Sophy and two young sons, Albert and Billy, as well as two older children from his first wife Betty, who also died of cancer. 

"I don't care if I'm immediately forgotten,'' Dury told the BBC. ``I'm not here to be remembered. I'm here to be alive.'' 


 Ian Dury, 57, Roguish Voice of Punk Music
                Ian Dury, an emblem of the English punk music movement, died on
                Monday at his home in Hampstead, London. He was 57. The cause
                was liver cancer; Mr. Dury had made his illness public in 1998. 

                Though ailing, Mr. Dury had performed last month at the London
                Palladium and continued his long campaign to raise awareness about
                polio, which he survived as a child. 

                Polio left him partly paralyzed at age 7. He eventually studied painting at
                the Royal College of Art and taught art in the 1970's, but he had already
                begun the musical career that would blossom in 1977. 

                That year, as punk heralded the uncomely and unrefined, Mr. Dury and
                his group, the Blockheads, released the rollicking album "New Boots and
                Panties" on Stiff Records. Mr. Dury adopted a roguish persona,
                delivering his frank lyrics in a good-natured cockney grumble. 

                The band's first hit, "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll," made fun of the rock
                'n' roll lifestyle while extolling its primal satisfactions. Other hits, like "Hit
                Me With Your Rhythm Stick," also celebrated simple passions, with
                humor enlivened by Mr. Dury's lovable gruffness. 

                After the band's popularity waned, Mr. Dury acted on television and in
                films like "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover," directed by
                Peter Greenaway. 

                He periodically reunited the Blockheads. In 1998 the band toured to
                support "Mr. Love Pants," its first album in two decades, despite Mr.
                Dury's illness. "I'm not here to be remembered," he told the BBC last
                September. "I'm here to be alive." 

                He is survived by his wife, the sculptor Sophy Tilson; two sons, Albert
                and Billy; and two other children from his first marriage for whom details
                were unavailable. 



All-Music Guide
                            Rock & roll has always been populated by fringe figures, cult 
                           artists that managed to develop a fanatical following because of 
                           their outsized quirks, but few cult rockers have ever been quite as 
                           weird, or beloved, as Ian Dury. As the leader of the 
                           underappreciated and ill-fated pub-rockers Kilburn & the High 
                           Roads, Dury cut a striking figure -- he remained handicapped 
                           from a childhood bout with polio, yet stalked the stage with 
                           dynamic charisma, spitting out music-hall numbers and rockers in 
                           his thick Cockney accent. Dury was 28 at the time he formed 
                           Kilburn, and once they disbanded, conventional wisdom would 
                           have suggested that he was far too old to become a pop star, but 
                           conventional wisdom never played much of a role in Dury's 
 career. Signing with the fledgling indie label Stiff in 1978, Dury developed a strange fusion of 
 music-hall, punk rock and disco that brought him to stardom in his native England. Driven by a 
 warped sense of humor and a pulsating beat, singles like "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick," "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll" and "Reasons to Be Cheerful (Part 3)" became Top Ten hits in the U.K., yet Dury's most distinctive qualities -- his dry wit and wordplay, thick Cockney brogue, and fascination with music-hall -- kept him from gaining popularity outside of England. After his second album, Dury's style became formulaic, and he faded away in the early '80s, turning to an acting career instead.  

 At the age of seven, Ian Dury was stricken with polio. After spending two years in hospital, he 
 attended a school for the physically handicapped. Following high school, he attended to the Royal 
 College of Art, and after his graduation, he taught painting at the Canterbury Art College. In 1970, 
 when he was 28 years old, Dury formed his first band, Kilburn & the High Roads. The Kilburns 
 played simple,'50s rock & roll, occasionally making a detour into jazz. Over the next three years, 
 they became a fixture on England's pub-rock circuit. By 1973, their following was large enough that Dury could quit his teaching job. Several British critics became dedicated fans, and one of them, Charlie Gillett, became their manager. Gillett helped the band sign to the Warner subsidiary Raft, and the group recorded an album for the label in 1974. Warner refused to release the album, and after some struggling, the Kilburns broke away from Raft and signed with the Pye subsidiary Dawn in 1975. Dawn released Handsome in 1975, but by that point, the pub-rock scene was in decline, and the album was ignored. Kilburn & the High Roads disbanded by the end of the year. 

 Following the dissolution of the Kilburns, Dury continued to work with the band's pianist/guitarist, 
 Chaz Jankel. By 1977, Dury had secured a contract with Stiff Records, and he recorded his debut 
 with Jankel and a variety of pub-rock veterans -- including former Kilburn Davey Payne -- and 
 session musicians. Stiff had Dury play the 1977 package tour Live Stiffs in order to support his 
 debut album New Boots and Panties!!, so he and Jankel assembled the Blockheads, recruiting 
 guitarist John Turnbull, pianist Mickey Gallagher, bassist Norman Watt Roy and drummer Charley 
 Charles. Dury and the Blockheads became a very popular act shortly after the Live Stiffs tour, and 
 New Boots and Panties!! became a major hit, staying on the U.K. charts for nearly two years; it 
 would eventually sell over a million copies worldwide. The album's first single, "What A Waste," 
 reached the British Top Ten, while the subsequent non-LP single "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick" 
 climbed all the way to number one. 

 Ian Dury had unexpectedly become a superstar in Britain, and American record companies were 
 suddenly very interested in him. Arista won the rights to distribute Dury's Stiff recordings in the U.S., but despite overwhelmingly positive reviews, New Boots and Panties!! stiffed in America, and the label instantly dropped him. Despite his poor U.S. sales, Dury was still riding high in his homeland, with his second album, Do It Yourself, entering the U.K. charts upon its summer release in 1979.  Dury supported the acclaimed album, which saw him delving deeply into disco, with an extensive tour capped off by the release of the single "Reasons to Be Cheerful (Part 3)," which climbed to number three. Once the tour was completed, Jankel left the band and Dury replaced him with Wilko Johnson, former lead guitarist for Dr. Feelgood. With Johnson, Dury released his last Stiff album, Laughter, which received mixed reviews but respectable sales upon its 1980 release. The following year, he signed with Polydor Records and reunited with Jankel. The pair flew to the Bahamas to record his Polydor debut with reggae superstars Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare. The resulting album, Lord Upminster, received mixed reviews and poor sales upon its 1981 release; the album was notable for the inclusion of the single "Spasticus Autisticus," a song Dury wrote for the United Nations Year of the Disabled, but was rejected.  

 Following the failure of Lord Upminster, Dury quietly backed away from a recording career and 
 began to concentrate on acting; 1984's 4000 Weeks Holiday, an album recorded with his new band the Music Students, was his last major record of the '80s. He appeared in several plays and television shows, as well as the Peter Greenaway film The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover and Roman Polanski's movie Pirates. He also began to write jingles for British commercials.  In 1989, he wrote the musical Apples with Mickey Gallagher, and he also appeared in the stage production of the play. Dury returned to recording in 1992 with The Bus Driver's Prayer and Other Stories.  

 In May 1998, Dury announced that he had be diagnosed with colon cancer in 1995 and that the 
 disease had spread to his liver. He decided to release the information the weekend of his 56th 
 birthday, in hopes of offering encouragement for others battling the disease. -- Stephen Thomas 
 Erlewine, All Music Guide




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 not yet wired for sound
    • Reasons To Be Cheerful
    • Wake Up & Make Love With
    • Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick
    • Clevor Trever
    • What A Waste
    • Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll