Music fan Matt Jacobson recounts the day he discovered the music of Liverpool singing sensation Billy Fury – and ruined his tea in the process.
“Mum, stop cooking, quick – who is this on the television?” Mum came in from the kitchen armed with her usual mother to teenage son kitchen script: “Matthew, I’m cooking. Tea will be ten minutes…”
But, she looked at the TV, head tilted, tea towel clasped close to her heart.
And with a softly spoken angels whisper, said “Oh son, that’s Billy Fury – lovely Ron Wycherley”.
I said: “Oh my” and stared at the screen. “I wish I was that cool.”
We talked about Billy’s songs, his image, his voice and his brother Albie. The oven cut the conversation short- tea was burnt.
But, this teatime led to a lifetime of me – the galloping quiff, buying as many Fury records and memorabilia as I could – as fast as I could.
Ron Wycherley’s big break came in 1958. He attended a concert at The Essoldo Theatre, Birkenhead, run by Larry Parnes, Ron hoped to show his songwriting skills to singer Marty Wilde. But, Parnes was so impressed with Ron’s backstage audition he pushed the young talent onto the stage itself and was an immediate success.
Parnes signed him and renamed him ‘Billy Fury’. The 1960s brought a succession of hits including; “Colette” and “Halfway to Paradise”. The Sound Of Fury is my favourite, self-penned by Billy because ‘he found learning and playing other songs too difficult’.
But, I believe, others wish they could write and sing like Billy who had a gentle but crisp voice that no other can match. He had the perfect quiff and perfect cheekbones. Extrovert on-stage, and off it – a modest, shy, insecure rocker who found peace in the countryside alongside wildlife.
I believe his vulnerability somehow increased the attraction, because he wasn’t the average popstar. He was one of us. Billy left our world in 1983, a hero to his own heroes, his fans and artists including Morrissey and Miles Kane.
Albie Wycherley said “Billy Fury wasn’t just my brother, he was my idol”.
Albie also had a pop career. He fronted The Centremen and signed for Joe Meek who changed Albie’s name to “Jason Eddie”. The echoing “Whatcha Gonna Do” and “Singing the Blues” charted. Albie toured with the Walker Brothers and The Troggs. Albie had a strong voice and strong features.
Although success was short lived his contribution is recognised and admired. After Billy’s passing, Albie was encouraged to sing Billys songs – and he did, beautifully and brilliantly.
Albie passed away in 2011 – he is now in Billy Fury’s loving arms.
This weekend (Sunday 7 September) fans will gather in Liverpool for a convention and remember the Wycherley brothers at Blundell Street Supper Club.
A gallery at the Museum of Liverpool is named Wondrous Place which looks at the creativity and sporting achievements of the city. Here we have Billy Fury’s first acoustic guitar on display.
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