Ronald Wycherley (17 April 1940 – 28 January 1983), better known by his stage name Billy Fury, was an English singer from the late 1950s to the mid 1960s, and remained an active songwriter until the 1980s. Rheumatic fever, which he first contracted as a child, damaged his heart and ultimately contributed to his death. An early British rock and roll (and film) star, he equalled the Beatles' record of 24 hits in the 1960s, and spent 332 weeks on the UK chart, without a chart-topping single or album.
Allmusic journalist, Bruce Eder, stated, "His mix of rough-hewn good looks and unassuming masculinity, coupled with an underlying vulnerability, all presented with a good voice and some serious musical talent, helped turn Fury into a major rock and roll star in short order". Others have suggested that Fury's rapid rise to prominence was due to his "Elvis Presley-influenced, hip-swivelling, and at times highly suggestive stage act." (Read more at Wikipedia.)
Links to Peel
"Young people often stop me in the streets and say, 'Well John, was there ever such a thing as a credible UK rocker?' And I say, 'Come into this pub and let me buy you a drink and I'll tell you all about Billy Fury.'" (John Peel, 23 September 2004)
Peel always spoke highly of Billy Fury, possibly reflecting in part the singer’s Liverpool birthplace and abilities as a live performer. In Margrave Of The Marshes (hardback, p105, 134), the DJ recalled going to watch Fury at early concerts he attended in Liverpool, including one event during Peel's national service that also featured Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran (presumably in March/April 1960, see Gigography 1954-1966). He also voiced approval of Fury's kindness to animals (see 04 February 1968).
Although Fury’s chart career was all but over by the time Radio One was launched, Peel introduced the singer's latest single on his debut Top Gear programme on the station, on 01 October 1967. He also continued to play Fury’s old recordings on air in the following decades, featuring him for the last time on 23 September 2004, during the DJ’s final full month of shows.
Festive Fifty Entries
Other Shows Played
- 01 October 1967: Suzanne In The Mirror (single) Parlophone (JP: “Billy Fury’s best for quite some time.”)
- 04 February 1968: (JP: "And if you read the Sunday papers, you’ll see that Billy Fury, who is one of the kindest people I know of, has a little animal sanctuary in his home, has been forced to move by those sick, said people who find it necessary to prove their virility by going out of a weekend and killing everything that moves. And I’m sorry to see that, Billy, you know, and if there’s any help in any way that I could give you or anything I could do, I’d be glad to do it, because it’s ridiculous. I get very angry when I read about things like that.")
- 29 November 1969: All The Way To The USA (single) Parlophone
- 21 February 1970: Turn My Back On You (10"LP - The Sound Of Fury) Decca
- 14 June 1973: Get Yourself Together (LP: source unknown)
- 08 January 1980: Maybe Tomorrow (7" EP) Decca (JP: "I sang along with that very prettily indeed.")
- 30 September 1982: Love Or Money (“Heroes & Villains” concert show to mark the 15th anniversary of Radio One)
- 04 September 1992: Turn My Back On You (10" album - The Sound Of Fury) Decca
- 06 September 1992 (BFBS): Turn My Back On You (10" - The Sound of Fury) Decca
- 11 February 1994: Turn My Back On You (LP - The Sound OF Fury) Decca
- 21 August 2003: Turn My Back On You (LP - The Sound of Fury) Decca (Peel describes Billy Fury as "almost the only credible British rocker".)
- 25 August 2004: Nothin' Shakin'" (LP - 'Rarities and Teenage Jottings') OzIt
- 10 September 2004 (BBC World Service): Nothin' Shakin'
- 23 September 2004: (JP: "Young people often stop me in the streets and say, 'well John, was there ever such a thing as a credible UK rocker?' And I say, 'come into this pub and let me buy you a drink and I'll tell you all about Billy Fury.'")
- Break Up (LP - Rarities & Teenage Jottings) Ozit-Morpheus
- Staying Single: Halfway To Paradise
- Radio Times: Peel fondly recalls seeing Billy Fury live in Liverpool, in his 26 Feb 1994 column.