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Billy Fury and The Wycherley Way

5 September 2014 by Dickie

Music fan Matt Jacobson recounts the day he discovered the music of Liverpool singing sensation Billy Fury – and ruined his tea in the process.

Black and white image of two legendary singers with gold discs

Billy meeting Elvis Presley on the set of ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ in Hollywood, May 1962. Photo courtesy of The Elvis Presley Fan Club

“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.

Young man stood by grave of Billy Fury

Billy Fury fan Matt Jacobson at the grave of his hero

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.

 

 

  1. Chris Brown says:

    Matts discovery of Billy Fury made me laugh. A great story and tribute to a true rock n roll legend..

    • Matthew Jacobson says:

      Thank you Chris. Billy is a true rock n roll legend. I remember the day I discovered him like it was yesterday – that moment changed my music collection into a serious collection. I’m proud to be a fan – and I will do all I can – to spread the music of the legend ‘ Billy Fury ‘. (Damn, I never found out what my Mum had cooked – then burnt !)

  2. mike from Co Mayo says:

    Very good write up about discovering Billy Fury’s music. Reminds me as a kid me mam loving his music, yet I was all a bit young and idiotic to even realise the talent and taste my mother coveted musically. Thanks for rekindling a memory in my own life Matt. Billy Fury died at 42, same age as I am now. Life is short and 42 is no age. I guess we are all half way to paradise in some way.

    mike

    • Matthew Jacobson says:

      Thank you Mike. My Mum loved Billy Fury, but like you , I had skipped past his music as I glanced through my Mum and Dads record collection. Until the moment I saw him. The image of Billy, the voice of Billy – both painted the perfect rock n roll picture in front of my eyes. I bought and listened to the records and then his records sat in front of my Elvis records, something I never thought could happen. I love them both but, the boy from Liverpool – had something much more special. His rise from the tugboats on the waterfront didn’t change him at all – he is our Liverpool boy. We are Halfway to Paradise – but Billy is with the ‘ Thousand Stars ‘. Thanks again Mike

  3. Rose Ryder says:

    Great article.Matt has provided a great review of a rock n roll legend!!

    • Matthew Jacobson says:

      Hi Rose, thank you. The word legend is handed out too freely these days but you have hit the ‘legend’ nail on the head. Billy is a legend. For me, although he gave so much performing, or on vinyl, I feel his shyness and illness diluted the soul. Billy and the limelight didn’t really match – others took his place without asking. they may have been loud and brash – but Billy Fury, the quiet man of rock n roll holds the legendary status -it is well earned and fully deserved.

  4. Billy Budd says:

    Insightful and interesting article! I think I’ll download a few Billy Fury tracks to hear the magic myself! I’ll hear his voice in my head and think of him kindly after reading this..

  5. Andrea says:

    Love the blog, look forward to more!

  6. Ged Collins says:

    What a brilliant article, makes me want to find out more about this iconic musical legend! Thanks Matt, and good luck with your next project!!

    • Matthew Jacobson says:

      Thanks Ged. Yes , please find out more !. Please order your records and then rearrange your day around the records ! They sort of take over your ipod. Liverpool has many legends of music but , there could have been a slight twist in the tale – The Beatles auditioned to be Billy’s backing band ! Now there is a thought. “Billy and the Beatles” – the ultimate group ? Now there’s another debate ! But, but there is so much to enjoy and admire in Billy Fury the man behind the microphone. At a recent fan club event, I listened to more tales of shy, charming gentleman – he sounded wonderful. No ego in pop – rock n roll, I didn’t think that was possible ! he is missed but the fan club and I will continue to promote his work – so please please please, buy those CDs !! Thanks Ged !

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