March, 2000 -Ian Dury died of cancer, exactly two years and two months
after his doctors had given him six months to live. He was 57.
became a hero to activists rebelling against a society who would have
preferred people with disabilities to be meek and grateful. Before he
died he was quoted as saying - 'I feel very lucky, as if I've had a blessed
life. I've had a major crack at it, which is more than most people get.'
young Ian went to live in Upminster, Essex with his Mum, but caught polio
on a trip to a Southend swimming pool when he was seven (there were nine
cases reported that August). The illness irreparably damaged one arm and
one leg, so he required callipers. He spent several years in hospital
in Cornwall before being dispatched back to Essex on a stretcher. Then
came a school for the disabled in Sussex. After this he went on to the
Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe due to passing his 11-plus and courtesy
of a grant by Essex County Council. He left with 3 O-levels for Walthamstow
an unlikely pop star he insisted that he was merely continuing on his
career as an artist: -"I was a painter for seven years, a successful
illustrator of two years, and now I'm a rock and roll singer. I still
feel like I'm doing the same thing, but I'm not painting with paints."
on he was to turn to acting, and although never in any great or major
parts, worked with the likes of Roman Polanski (The Pirates), Peter Greenaway
(The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover) and alongside the likes
of Helen Mirren, Walter Mattau, Omar Sharif and Bob Dylan (Hearts Of Fire).
When he first encountered Dylan they were apparently passing one another
in a corridor and Dylan, upon seeing Dury just pointed at him and said
-'Sweet Gene Vincent' to which Dury countered -'One and the same.' -which
was all they initially said!
the studio session I took them back to Hammersmith. He gave me a piece
of paper with his address and telephone number and the message -next time
we'll do it!' Not entirely sure what 'it' was, other than it was in a
similar vein to -'There's nothing wrong with it!' from the back of the
Do It Yourself sleeve.
an interview slightly before this concert, he explained to a journalist
with whom hed broken a previous appointment how hed just had
a heart scare. He said -"Im normally quite fit, but I went
up a few stairs at my house in Hampstead and I was gasping like an old
geezer. So I went to see my doctor. He gave me an X-ray and a blood test
and an ECG, then he told me to wait and he ran out of the building! I
thought bloody ell, is it that bad? He thought I was having a heart
attack, and hes run next door to the surgeon."
chuckled, before proceeding to describe, in great detail, and with many
humorous asides, his subsequent hospitalisation. His heart, apparently,
was pounding away at an excessive 158bpm. -"I was under examination
for the whole day in this progressive care unit. Theres bleepers
going off the whole time. The nurse says Dont look, itll
just make your heart faster!"
next day he received mild electric shock treatment. -"Its bang
on tempo now. I had an ECG two nights ago and from every angle its
solid, so its not heart disease." Dury paused, and with the
timing of an old trouper added -"So Im back on the cancer now
Who else is going to write line like: -'Think I've got a new one on my nose, don't I look a lemon in these clothes.' and 'Home improvement expert Harold Hill of Harold Hill, of do-it-yourself dexterity, and double-glazing skill, came home to find another gentleman's kippers in the grill, so he sanded off his winkle, with his Black & Decker drill.'' And of course: -'Skinny white sailor the chances were slender, the beauties were brief, shall I mourn your decline with some Thunderbird wine and a black handkerchief, -I miss your sad, Virginia whisper, I miss the voice, that caught my heart......