Ian Dury was another of London’s great voices, a total character. He drew heavily on music hall traditions dating back to the late nineteenth century, but at the same time, he was at the forefront of British new wave, and so he was something of a paradox. He was never much of a singer, but was a fantastic bandleader — check out the killer bass line in this track, for example. As a lyricist, he had an uncommon flair for rhyme and all sorts of other wordplay. He was also a polio survivor — he caught the disease when he was seven, and had limited use of one arm and one leg for the rest of his life. He was also an outspoken campaigner for disabled rights, and an early AIDS activist. A fascinating guy. (Apparently there was a biopic last year starring Andy Serkis, but I haven’t seen it. Anyone?)
Here’s a song Dury wrote about his dad, a London bus driver and chauffeur, the sort of man who “dropped his aitches” — as in ” ‘ow’s things, love?”
Dury died of cancer back in 2000. I just discovered that there’s a memorial bench for him at one of his favorite sites in Richmond Park — a solar powered bench that you can plug headphones into to listen to some of Dury’s songs. Cool!