One of my heroes of the punk and new wave scene in the late 1970s was the unforgettable Ian Dury.
Ian Dury was always a total outsider. As he was a handicapped child(he contracted polio at the age of 7) of a university teacher and a bus driver he staged himself as a poet of the gutter. He accosted and spat and was like the mocking court jester and cynical berserk. So Ian Dury became a model for many punks. His music, a blend of pub rock, Music Hall, Comedy, Jazz, Funk and Reggae met the late 70s, early 80s the spirit of the times. Ian Dury was a great poet and entertainer and he worked until his death, also a successful actor, writer and painter.
When Ian Dury jamming in the summer of 1978 at his home in north London district of Hampstead along with Chaz Jankel, the two met on an incisive, funky riff. Chaz Jankel of the Blockheads played on his Fender Rhodes keyboard into a frenzy and Ian Dury machined drums and improvised slant rhymes in rough Cockney working-class slang to:
Hit me with your rhythm stick. I don’t take arithmetic. Hit me with your rhythm stick. It’s nice to be a lunatic
The next day the demo version of “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” and Ian Dury and his Blockheads already emerged were pretty sure that they would order a hit. In January 1979, the single climbed to # 1 on the UK charts, relegating the “YMCA” by the Village People. Ian Dury and his band, the Blockheads sold over a million singles. “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” had a lot to offer: There was this loud radio, a compelling disco beat, a shot of comedy and a freak show with free jazz insert. And there was this aggressive rockabilly singer with the lard hairstyle, a metal rail on the left leg and a hoarse voice Cockney, who rarely met a sound. Here the forefather of punk movement seemed at work. As “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” 1979 Charts stormed, Ian Dury was already 36 years old, breaking the unwritten law: “Who is not a pop star to 30, which also is no more”.
From Wed Eder 80s commercial success evaded and the albums were rare. Ian Dury was traded as a discontinued model. The British pop ruled by Stock, Aitken, Waterman and its widescreen productions. New Romanticism and the androgynous appearances as Boy George ruled the charts and the new music television. Ian Dury’s aggressive energy work, however, almost entirely, to the stage. And his acerbic jokes, as well as his tender ballads of the 80 were in the middle no longer in demand. In the second half of the 80 Ian Dury reinvented itself and became a painter, actor and author. He appeared in musicals in London’s West End and appeared in numerous movies and television films. In supporting roles, he has starred in Roman Polanski’s “Pirates” and in Peter Greenaway’s “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover”.
1996 was found in Ian Dury cancer. He knew it would only remain to him three or four years, and he worked tirelessly. Made films. Wrote books and plays. Took care of his family, regulated the estate and played until shortly before his death despite severe pain 90 minute live shows with the Blockheads. And he committed himself to UNICEF as an ambassador for polio victims and visited Vaccine Clinics in Zambia and Sri Lanka. In 1997, he was accompanied by a 23-year-old singer, who was pretty broken and confused and had just left the boy band Take That: Robbie Williams. A huge fan and admirer of Ian Dury. Robbie Williams was even able to memorize entire songs. The two hit it off splendidly on this UNICEF tour. When Ian Dury on 27 March 2000 had lost the battle against cancer, Robbie Williams sang at the grave Ian Dury & The Blockheads song “You’re The Why”.
Rest In Peace, Ian
Ian Dury and the Blockheads – Wake Up And Make Love With Me
Ian Dury and the Blockheads – Billaricey Dickie
Ian Dury and the Blockheads – Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll
Ian Dury and the Blockheads – What A Waste
Ian Dury and the Blockheads – Reason To Be Cheerful Pt. III