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Billy Fury (born Ronald William Wycherley , Liverpool, April 17, 1940 – London, January 28, 1983), was a pop and rock singer British. Originally a member of Liverpool’s Mersey-Beat environment. He was also a composer of his own songs. His career developed from the late 50’s to the 80’s.
At age 11 he received his first piano lesson and three years later his first guitar. One of his first jobs, after school, was on the ship “Formby”, where he met American sailors, who taught him the country and western styles. He then created his group, “Formby Sniffle Group”, which performed in cafes. In 1957 Ronald wrote for Margo King the song Margo (Do not Go). In 1958 he recorded a demo that he sent to the entrepreneur Larry Parnes, who impressed him by contract and suggested changing his name to Billy Fury. He soon started touring, and recorded a first hit for the record company Decca: “Maybe Tomorrow” in 1959, which reached number 20 on the charts. For March of 1960, its success “Colette” arrived at the position number 9 in the United Kingdom, to that followed then “That’s Love”, and its first album, “The Sound Of Fury” (1960). This also included a young Joe Brown on the first guitar, and background vocal support of the “4 Jays”. They would become “The Fourmost” three years later.
After other successes, Billy would join the band The Blue Flames that included keyboardist Georgie Fame. The Blue Fames auditioned for Parnes in Liverpool. Among those who did not qualify to join their backup band, was the first “The Beatles” line-up, due in part to the fact that the first bass player they had, Stuart Sutcliffe, played with his back to the businessman. The Beatles retaliated anyway, going on tour in Scotland with Johnny Gentle and Duffy Power, who were others sponsored by Parnes. The mentioned Power, was responsible for the second cover of the Beatles in the form of a single: “I Saw Her Standing There”.
Fury would concentrate less on Rock and Roll, and more on pop ballads, such as “Halfway To Paradise” and “Jealousy” (both of 1961, the first came to number 3 and the other to number 2 on the lists of British singles). It was Decca’s decision to mold Fury as an adolescent idol, after his second song, “My Christmas Prayer”, failed to reach the charts.
Billy Fury appeared in numerous TV shows and in series and films. In 1962 he flew with Larry Parnes to Los Angeles to give Elvis Presley several Silver and Gold albums. In that year, Fury became the first singer to perform with Elvis Presley, who recommended that he record a song of his new movie, “Because Of Love”.
He also discovered there a single from “Gladys Knight and the Pips”, called “Letter Full Of Tears”. The same year he made his first film: “Play It Cool”, in the model of the Elvis Presley films, starring Helen Shapiro, Kenny Lynch, Shane Fenton, and Bobby Vee. The success of this film was the song “Once Upon A Dream”.
At the end of 1963, Decca arranged for Fury to perform a cover for what appeared to be a nascent American hit, the same one that London Records had recently made with Barbara Chandler. But “Do You Really Love Me Too”, I would not be especially remembered later.
After appearing in the movie “I’ve Gotta Horse” (1965), and reaching other successes in the United Kingdom, in 1965 Fury had “Thoughts Of You” his last Top-10-Hit. His health began to deteriorate. For a while he only reduced his presentations. His problem went back to when he had suffered from rheumatic fever as a child, which affected his heart permanently. Billy was always aware that he would not reach a very advanced age. Hence his love for fast cars and a very intense life. Fury disappeared from the charts and tours since 1966. Billy Fury was also a lover of ornithology and noted bird watcher, activities to which he dedicated himself especially in this time of his life.
During this period of retirement, Fury wrote and recorded numerous songs, which were not commercial successes, or released until after his death. He married Judith Hall in 1969, but the couple did not last long together. Then he lived with Lisa Rose. Fury suffered from depression and alcohol problems, and financial problems were added to it.
In 1971, his first heart operation was performed. For 1973, he left his retirement to play the rock ‘n’ roller Stormy Tempest in the movie “That’ll Be The Day”. The film was starring David Essex and Ringo Starr. It was based on the early days of the Beatles. Ringo Starr was from the same area of Liverpool as Fury, and had originally played drums for “Rory Storm & The Hurricanes”. Fury re-recorded in this time again his success of 1961: “A Thousand Stars”. In 1976 he underwent a second heart operation. Fury recorded a ‘return album’ between 1981 and 1982 & nbsp ;: “The One And Only” (edited posthumously) with producer Stuart Coleman, including several singles. He also recorded a live performance for the TV show “Unforgettable”, promoting the new album, also playing some old hits.
In March 1982 he had a severe heart attack, with paralysis and even temporary blindness. Then only his health would progressively deteriorate. Despite being aware of the risk that would run, Billy embarked on a tour, which would be the final. Billy Fury died on January 28, 1983, after a performance at the Beck Theater in Hayes, Hillingdon, where today a plaque commemorating his last presentation there is displayed.
Bassist Roger Cover remembered that Billy knew he was going to die, but he did not want to interrupt the tour in any way. Stuart Coleman said that he wanted to leave like this, in a last and glorious ending.
- Despite occupying many weeks on the charts, Billy Fury never reached a number one. However, Fury had in the 60s, more hits in the top 20, than most other groups and performers, second only to the Beatles, Cliff Richard and Elvis Presley.
- The song “Wondrous Place” was Billy’s favorite and he recorded it at least 4 times in his career. Later it received a lot of recognition when being used in the British TV like the subject of advertising of cars Toyota in 1999 and 2000.
- Billy spent a lot of time helping to create a sanctuary for horses with Lee Everett-Alkin, Kenny Everett’s ex-wife. As Lady Lee, she performed for Decca a single that was cover of “I’m Into Something Good”.
- “Turn Your Lamp Down Low” (re-recorded in 1965 with the band The Gamblers), was one of the first British and recording examples of a reggae theme (with the accents in the second and fourth beat of each beat ).
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