Ian Dury

As an only child born to older parents – one of whom was ill for most of my life – I spent much of my time alone. I still do. Music was, and is, important to me and my well-being. As you will see if you read some of the other letters, there are four musicians who I particularly admire and Ian Dury is one of them…


Dear Ian

What can I say? You burst on to my TV screen in 1979 indescribably attired, carrying a walking cane and belting out something about a rhythm stick. The music was an irresistible blend of punk rock and music hall, delivered by a clearly talented bunch of musicians, and I was hooked.

I rushed out and bought the album New Boots and Panties and remember giving it its inaugural airing in the lounge, whilst mum was sitting quietly reading the paper. I don’t think I’ve ever moved so fast as when the opening lines of Plaistow Patricia rang out! I so enjoyed the naughtiness of Billericay Dickie: “I had a love affair with Nina in the back of my Cortina” simply cannot be beaten as an opening line, and am moved by the obvious sadness of My Old Man.

Ian Dury signed photo

My signed photo of Ian Dury

I came to see you and The Blockheads several times; the first was just after the release of Do It Yourself and, in keeping with the album cover, the Brighton Centre was decked out in a range of different wallpapers. The last being what turned out to be your penultimate gig. I was sitting at my desk at work in Norwich, not enjoying life very much, when Carol suddenly called with some amazing news. The conversation went something like this:

Carol: Ian Dury and the Blockheads are playing at the University of East Anglia in February. Do you want a ticket?
Me: Ian Dury and the Blockheads? Are you sure?
Carol: Well, that’s what it says in the EDP (Eastern Daily Press).
Me: THE Ian Dury and the Blockheads?
Carol: How many are there?
Me: Are you sure it’s not a tribute band? Ian Jury and the Rockheads, something like that?
Carol: No! Ian Dury and The Blockheads!
Me: Ian Dury, eh? In little old Norfolk!
Carol: Yes!
Me: At the UEA!
Carol: YES!
Me: In February, you say?
Carol: YES!!! Do you want a ticket or not?
Me: Do I want a ticket!?!?!?

February 4, 2000 – what a night that was. The cancer was eating you away, it took you ages to come on and get settled, but you perched there and, with the guys, pumped out song after song, dripping with sweat and enthusiasm. At the end, I remember you joking: “don’t ask for a fucking encore, I’ll never get back on!” On March 27 – and just 56 days after that intense and emotional night in Norfolk – you left us.

Ian Dury concert ticket 001

The ticket to Ian Dury and The Blockheads’ penultimate gig

New Boots and Panties will always figure in my all-time top ten albums. The songs Hit me with your Rhythm Stick (which contains the best bass line ever from the best bassist ever, Norman Watt-Roy), There ain’t half been some clever bastards, Blockheads and Reasons to be Cheerful (part three) are lyrical classics that will resonate with me forever. In fact, I loved Reasons so much that I wrote ‘part four’ in your honour:

Ian Dury poem 001

And, as well as the music, the DVD Hold on to your structure, remains a window to how talented an outfit you all were.

Oy Oy!


Exerpt from Billericay Dickie reproduced by kind permission of Temple Music Limited

One thought on “Ian Dury

  1. Debbie Howard says:

    I think you got John into Ian Dury – I’m almost certain you would belt out a few lines from ‘Hit me with your Rhythm Stick’ whilst playing Snooker – in my lounge!!

    I also remember that mini game he had, a little 12″ table and tiny cue’s and you two trying to play on it after a few bevvies – hilarious!!

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