Brian Lee-A personal Tribute
It is with much sadness that I learned today that a dear friend to Linda and myself, singer Brian Lee, (Brian Doggett) had passed away yesterday-April 7th. We have such fond memories of spending time in the Clacton area with Brian and his family, of seeing his terrific stage performances before he became ill, which was many years ago now, and then just spending time with him and his family when he could no longer perform. Only last August we attended his 70th Birthday Party on the patio of his care home, where his room was a shrine to the 50’s and 60’s in the way that a room in his house had previously been.
Brian started his career in the 60’s, more so in the 70’s and although primarily an Elvis tribute singer (but not impersonator as he always pointed out), can be said to be one of the earliest Billy Fury tribute acts ,in that he would often include Fury numbers in his act. He has recorded a couple of CDs of Billy’s songs and contributed three songs to the Billy Fury Tribute double CD brought out by Harry Whitehouse-Without You. He did release an album, The Two Faces of Brian Lee and an EP/maxi-single of 60’s songs. Touring the UK over the years Brian took his act right across the UK including Leeds, Aberdare, Southport, Skegness with an annual Elvis Memorial Show at the Circus Tavern, Purfleet. A very special gig for Brian was at the Beck Theatre, site of the last live theatre gig by one of his main heroes-Billy Fury. Brian also visited the Mill Hill gatherings of Fury fans where he met Billy’s Mum Jean and brother Albie, also attending later after his stroke.
On 27th August 1995 my partner Linda and I were sitting in the front row of the Alexandra theatre in Bognor with the curtains still closed when there came the introduction to a song we knew but could not immediately place-then the curtains parted to reveal this striking and very tall man dressed in white and singing Stand By Me (probably the best song from the film I’ve Gotta Horse).
It’s doubtful whether Billy ever performed it on stage and up to this point no other Fury tribute artists had done so to our knowledge. It was a wonderful surprise. When this was followed by a powerful, indeed superb, rendering of Love or Money (not easy to sing) we just could not believe our luck-and this was our introduction to Brian Lee and the Leaders. Later strapping on his guitar Brian and the band tore through fine tributes to Del Shannon, Elvis and many other 60’s artists. It was an excellent show.
Regrettably, having been away and driven 300 miles direct to the venue we did not wait for the band to come out front. Not only would we have been able to thank Brian and the band as we should have but could possibly have formed a friendship earlier than we did. Eventually, on 17th August 1997 along with the much missed Clare Mehmet-Nugent from the Sound of Fury Syndicate as it was then, and other friends, we attended the London Palladium where for the whole of the first half Brian put on a really genuine tribute to Billy Fury. No attempt was made to look, act or sound like Billy-it was just Brian with his inimitable voice-and it was good. The second half was an excellent Elvis Tribute delivered as always in his truly powerful, unique and emotive vocal style. Backing vocalists included Tony Rivers and Anthony Thompson, who also apparently backed Cliff Richard and Shakin’ Stevens. During the act Brian brought on stage his young daughter Rachel who I think was in her pyjamas, and there was a miniature Elvis, the 7 year old Charles Buck who is still in touch with the family. Afterwards we went backstage, presented Brian with one of Billy’s 70’s shirts and thereafter we all became firm friends. Like Dorothy Squires, Brian had taken the gamble in hiring the venue and certainly in his case it paid off.
On several occasions over the years we travelled down to Essex to visit Brian and his lovely wife Jeanette, plus young Rachel and Nathan, the apples of Brian’s eye, and to support him at fund raising events. He would somehow get the likes of the legendary and generous Big Jim (where’s the nearest chippy) Sullivan and Mike Berry to perform in order to raise the funds for local good causes such as the local church roof. Sadly Jim is no longer with us of course. Laid low and virtually immobile by a massive stroke Brian displayed remarkable courage and determination in fighting his way back to a standard of fitness which would allow him to live at home, drive his big old car, run a record shop for a short while, and fundraise. Regrettably the stroke put paid to that fine voice but his stage presence as compere was still there and his irrepressible humour (with Jeanette’s love and support) got him through. One of his most memorable and enjoyable times was when we took him and Jeanette to see Colin Gold and Fury’s Tornados perform. Colin made a fuss of him and introduced him to the audience, which made his day, and rightly so. Unfortunately, as is so often the way, more strokes soon followed and Brian had to move into care.
Many entertainers are credited with being larger than life but Brian really was a big man in every way, a sort of cross between Elvis and Tommy Cooper! He would not suffer fools gladly, could be blunt and often called a spade a spade (with a suitable preceding adjective) but he was really all heart. A local celebrity even after the first stroke he drove us to the White Rose Cafe (now gone I believe) one day for lunch. It was packed and of course Brian had taken us there on a whim. Without more adieu the manager moved diners about and somehow in minutes had a table ready for his friend Brian and his entourage! Brian loved to wind friends up (every time we visited even when poorly he still managed that!), and was so proud that despite the terrible misfortune visited upon him he could still recall what the B side of such and such a record was. At one stage last year he was even a guest DJ at a venue. There were tears whenever we met, but there was also wonderful humour and a lot of love. Had such misfortune not happened Brian would doubtless have still been using that great voice to good effect in promoting Billy and Elvis etc. and charitable events and bringing joy to lovers of 50’s/60’s music as he did so well throughout ,in particular, the 70’s to the 90’s. As we know-that was not to be-and that’s a real tragedy for so many reasons.
Linda and I are very proud to be able to say we were Brian’s friends. He enriched our lives and was a great friend right to the end. Our thoughts and love are with Dear Jeanette, Rachel and Nathan at this sad time. It was good to know you Brian old mate and we really are going to miss you.
Love. Chris Eley and Linda. xx April 8th 2018
Halfway To Paradise- The Book Launch
Thursday 26th April 2018 will see the official launch by Waterstones of the new Billy Fury Biography written by David and Caroline Stafford. This is a hardback and contains many pages of pictures from different periods of Billy’s life. It promises to be an excellent book. The authors will be interviewed by local writer and journalist Paul Fitzgerald at the Cunard Building on the waterfront in Liverpool , commencing at 7pm. Billy’s first guitar and other memorabilia will be on view and the ticket only audience will be invited to ask questions about the book and Billy’s life. Please do support this event.
The address of the building is: Cunard Building, Pier Head, Liverpool, L3 I DS
Tickets are either £7.00 or £ 6.00 (to Waterstones card holders only), plus vat and can be ordered online via: www.waterstones.com/events/halfway-to-paradise More information: Telephone 0151 7099820
The Sound of Fury-Official Billy Fury Fan Club
18TH DECEMBER UPDATE
Last minute Christmas/Billy Fury related news from The Sound of Fury Fan Club.
My Christmas Prayer-A New Recording.
A London band, Zazous and The Fury’s, have just released their version of the above Billy Fury classic, albeit on download only. It is available from Spotify, I Tunes and other good music sources and buyers may make a donation of their choice at; www.justgiving.comfundraising/makesomeomeschristmas for the homeless charity Shelter.
The Sound of Fury-Official Billy Fury Fan club wholeheartedly supports this release and believes it to be a sincere and highly enjoyable tribute to Britain’s finest ever rocker and pop singer. We wish to express our sincere gratitude to the band and to ace rock’n’ roll DJ Geoff Barker, from whom we learned of the release. We urge fans to purchase this download and support a good cause (in addition to promoting Billy). Geoff will be playing this recording and Billy’s original on coming Saturday Shows before Christmas. The Saturday Night Rock ‘N’ Roll Party on BBC Radio Wiltshire, available in some areas not only via PC but TV too, e.g. Channel 721 in West Sussex. Please support Geoff’s great show, Billy Fury, and this new band.
My Christmas Prayer-new vinyl release on LP.
Available at £10.79 from musicMagpie on line is the LP Winter Wonderland –a general 50s/60’s Christmas Collection.
Chris Eley-On on behalf of The Sound of Fury Team (December 14th 2017).
6TH NOVEMBER - UPDATE - 6TH NOVEMBER
Play it Cool Screening Event In London
Original 35mm film. 23rd January 2018.
Projecting the Archive presents
Billy Fury Tribute night.
Please do support this event if you can-Ed. Tickets (unpriced as yet) on sale in January.
“Grab a guitar as we salute Rock N Roll Heavens brightest British star, Liverpool’s Billy Fury, with a genuine 35mm film screening of his fabbest musical feature exactly 60 years after he cut his first 78rpm demo disc (that should be Maybe Tomorrow-Ed).
On the trail of a runaway heiress ,Billy’s band takes a toe-tapping tour of Soho’s nattiest early 60s nightspots . Packed with great music performances by Billy, Shane Fenton, Helen Shapiro and Bobby Vee –this terrific period piece taught Brit-kids how to do the twist (Chubby Checker had already done that-but Billy taught us how to do the French Twist-Ed).
Plus rare TV Oh Boy,(ABC TV 30/05/59,25 minutes)-Billy rocks alongside Marty ‘Bad Boy Wilde’ and big quiffed Cliff”. Introduced by Vic Pratt, BFI National Archive. 23rd January 2018 at 6.15 on NFI 1 (the biggest screen). BFI Souhbank, Belvedere Road,South Bank,London,SE 1 B XT. Tel. 020 78151350.
18TH MAY 2017 - UPDATE - 18TH MAY 2017
Mrs Jean Wycherley.
The Sound of Fury team ,on behalf of all of its members, would like to say how saddened we were today to hear of the passing of Billy’s Fury’s Mum , Mrs Jean Wycherley. So many fans of Billy knew Jean as a friend, some from the late 50’s and 60’s, others of us from the 1980’s Mill Hill gatherings and from the various tribute weekends and events which followed Billy’s passing in 1983.
From that time onwards she was a rallying point for the fans and devoted her life to promoting the legacy of her famous son, and later Billy's brother, Albie.
This is truly the end of an era and she will be sorely missed by her family, friends and Billy’s fans. R.I.P Dear Jean-you’re with your loved ones again now.
Chris, Linda and the Sound of Fury Fan Club Team.
DECEMBER UPDATE - From Chris Eley
It has been a long time since I last saw Liverpool’s own Gavin Stanley (aka Gavin Skelhorn) on-stage-far too long. Not only is he one of the nicest and least effected of performers but he really is good at playing Billy Fury and Eddie Cochran, having become quite a musician over the years since the early days of the original show. With American New Yorker Lars Young as the mighty Gene Vincent and Roy Orbison this is ‘a fast moving beat show’ (to quote the original 60’s headlines), and I found it exhilarating. Backed by an especially competent band-The Wildcaps (who thought of that parody of the Blue Caps I wonder?), the sound is amazing and authentic.
Following an introduction (far too loud actually but effective) by ‘The Reverend DJ Jordan’ Gavin opened with the best version of Just Because you’ll probably hear outside of the We Want Billy album, followed with Wondrous Place (very good indeed), a very hard rocking Don’t Knock Upon My Door with great sax, (John Wallis I believe but not credited on the CD from the show) and A Thousand Stars. Gavin has presence and he moves well. Lars playing Orbison for about four numbers was enjoyable and quite authentic-no easy thing.
Lead guitarist Gerry Slattery gave a compelling performance with Keep A Knocking and it was over to Gavin to provide us with a number of Cochran classics- displaying his considerable guitar skills. If Billy were still with us he would respect immensely the abilities of this other Liverpool ‘lad’. I especially liked Nervous Breakdown and Teenage Heaven. Cochran was a musical giant-such a great loss.
I adore the music of Gene Vincent, but not so much the frantic paced stuff. However, many would argue that those ultra fast paced rockers like Race With The Devil and Cruisin’ are the real essence of the man and Lars, although not sounding too much like Gene (who on earth ever could) gave a quite wonderful and indeed mesmerising portrayal, both visually and vocally, of the tormented genius.
In addition to the two rockers above the classic Baby Blue came over well, as did the controversial Woman Love and an unusual choice recently out on a limited edition 45, Sexy Ways.
Buddy Holly, in the guise of Spencer Jordan was up next and we had some well delivered Holly favourites by as good a Buddy as I have seen in a while-being joined by the others for Oh Boy. Part two of the show gave us the maudlin Three Stars by Gavin, with Lars I think but cannot recall exactly, then more Vincent including A Lotta Lovin’ followed by more Fury. When Will You Say I Love You, Gonna Type A Letter with great sax, It’s Only Make Believe and in closing Halfway to Paradise, were well performed and followed by another four Orbison tracks from the talented Lars.
Finally it was back to Cochran with four of Eddies finest, all really gutsy performances by Gavin such as Something Else and Jeannie ,Jeannie, Jeannie then a finale which included a great Vincent track, really well performed-Say Mama, with all three performers on stage.
Afterwards the guys were out front, courteous and friendly. I asked Lars why he had not mixed in some of Vincent’s exquisite ballads such as Over the Rainbow and he said they had tried it but it lost the show too much momentum.
I would liked to have heard Wildcat ,It’s Been Nice, Goin’ Home etc. instead of the likes of Double Talking Baby but that aside-this was a great show that helped for just a little while to lift me from the acute sadness of the day at Danny’s funeral.
If it runs again or even if there is a different incarnation such as Rock’n’ Roll Paradise (I think the promoter said-GRT Entertainments.com) and it features Gavin, make the effort-it will be worth it. A 45 track live double CD is sold at the venue and makes an excellent souvenir of the night. Gavin was jetting somewhere exotic to get married so we wish him and his new bride all the very best for the future. Chris Eley. WWW.BEBOPALULUSHOW.COM
Rock’n’Roll Unravelled- by Derek Shelmerdine.
An abridged review copy of this publication, with the front page caption ‘From its Roots to mid-1970’s Punk’ came to me from the author via a family friend who is a local radio DJ. The book is a combined ‘dip in’ events diary and pocket history melange which has self-evidently required a lot of detailed research-seemingly 7 years worth. It’s very interesting as one might expect and for Fury fans there is some information in Part 3, (pocket histories).
In Part 2 there is more detail related to or connected to Billy, some of it new to me; the duration of the Blue Flames as a backing group for one thing. I didn’t know that Them (with Van Morrison) were originally called The Gamblers either, which could have been confusing given the great Newcastle group of the same name. There is a fair bit of detail about the sixties bands and artists connected in some way with the Beatles era but to those of us who regard rock’n’ roll as a musical phenenomon from around 1954-60, (perhaps earlier at a pinch) it is strange to see the term covering the Who, Deep Purple, Hawkwind, Billy J Kramer, Hank Ballard, Springsteen and punk groups etc., which seems to be the way the USA sees it these days, and many in the UK. This modern view is confirmed by some of the real rock’n’ roll artists only recently included in the USA Rock’n’ Roll Hall of Fame, whilst mainstream Sixties pop artists and groups have inexplicably been inducted. For me it’s a bit like not seeing Slim Whitman mentioned in the Country Music Hall of Fame when I visited in 2007-how wrong is that.
To be fair-those of us who are more purist are really out of step with the way things are today (even Joe Brown says it’s all rock’n’ roll to him now although I suspect Marty Wilde may feel differently). Anyway, by setting aside for a while those narrower, but perfectly natural views for many of our generation, it is possible to really enjoy this book and to understand, if not to actually embrace, all kinds of ‘rock’ as being branches of the rock’n’roll tree. Let’s face it the line between rhythm and blues, rockabilly (actually categorised as such by some US reviewers of Elvis 45s in the fifties but not identified as such in this country until the late sixties or so), has always been blurred-take Fats Domino (first record made in 1949) and Bo Diddley as perfect examples. They are renowned as rock’n’ roll icons yet surely they played predominantly rhythm and blues-as did Chuck Berry on a lot of recordings. Even early Elvis was a mixture-I Got Stung and Jailhouse Rock were very self-evidently pure rock’n’ roll but One Sided Love Affair and many others were R&B and some Sun sides were pure rockabilly.
It’s never been that clear cut. The book does also set the scene by including some of the seismic events happening along the way, like the Vietnam War, thereby being a bit of a social history as well.
This is a book for serious music lovers with broad taste (but excluding Soul and Reggae etc.), and there are real nuggets hear such as the time Bo Diddley ‘went of script’ on a US TV show –and was never invited back! The formation of a ‘supergroup’ the Beatmakers in late 1961 with the Beatles and Pacemakers together with Karl Terry and Gerry on lead vocals, with John Lennon relegated to piano-who knew about that! The deaths of icons from our era such as Del Shannon are listed and it’s nice to see mention of the often neglected Ronnie Hawkins (a real rock’n’ roller) and fascinating to know that the first time Led Zeppelin played together was when recording the unusual PJ Proby LP Three Week Hero. Nothing really new about Billy Fury here, but he is done justice to, and it’s a nice reference book to dip into.
Published by DCA Rock’n’Roll Ltd 2016. Available on Amazon UK priced £24.95 with free postage.
Contact author via www.rocknrollunrevelled.com
5TH AUGUST UPDATE
While on holiday in Cornwall our very own Chris Eley recorded his memories of the late Danny Rivers. Please copy and paste the link below into your browser to be taken to the interview. This will take you to an external website:
BILLY FURY NEWS FOR 2016-STOP PRESS-BILLY FURY NEWS FROM THE SOUND OF FURY FAN CLUB
7TH JULY UPDATE
The Billy Fury Worldwide Discography by Peter Baldia (0rdering details correction)
At time of writing I have not seen a copy of this book but those of you who have copies of his earlier photocopied publications will have some idea of what this new book will be like-only professionally printed this time and therefore that much better with colour prints inside of rare records and sleeves from all over the world. For all fans who are also collectors this will be a must and is something frankly I should have attempted years ago. Peter has been a good friend to me and to some good friends of mine, and an ardent supporter of this fan club. He has been a massive Fury and rock’n’ roll fan since the 1970’s and is a very generous person too. The rarities shown are those held in several fans collections or otherwise known about, and no such publication is ever going to be totally complete, but his volume is as good as we are going to get for many a year. A splendid job has been done Peter and I see my old friend Tony Philbin-also a die-hard Billy fan from way back, has been involved in it. Highly recommended.
WE ARE SORRY THAT ORDERING DETAILS WERE INCORRECT IN THE JUNE SOUND OF FURY 60 PAGE MAGAZINE-BLAME MY OCCASIONAL FIGURE DYSLEXIA. TO ORDER THIS BOOK REFER TO DETAILS BELOW;
Available at 40 euros (inc. p+p) from Peter Baldia , Haslingergasse 41/20, A-1160 Vienna. Consult your local [Post Office for the best way to get payment to Austria. Paypal can be used at Peter’s email address but no cheques please.
Sorry for any inconvenience
Peaksoft's new Billy Fury double album features the first Official CD release of the 1983 LP The Missing Years.
The album also provides an exclusive first hearing of recently discovered studio masters.
A clutch of rare bonus tracks completes a superb must-have package for any follower of one of Britain's best-loved rock stars.
An 8-page booklet offers an authoritative commentary on the tracks.
The Missing Years marks the third licensing cooperation between Peaksoft and the Billy Fury Estate, with royalties donated to the Billy Fury Memorial Fund, which raises money for heart treatment equipment.
The project concept, provision of all tapes used, including studio masters for CD2 and and liner notes by our very own Chris Eley from The Sound of Fury.
Standard retail price for this terrific double album will be £12.99.
The Missing Years LP
1 Wondrous Place
2 She Loves Somebody
3 Paper Aeroplanes
4 Do My Best For You
5 Spider And The Fly
6 Silly Boy Blue
7 Fascinating Candle Flame
8 Halfway To Paradise
9 I Saw The Light
10 Bye, Bye
11 Hurtin’ Is Loving
12 One Minute Woman Please
13 I Call For My Rose
14 Let Me Go My Way
15 It Just Don’t Matter Now
16 You’ll Break My Heart in Two
17 I Love You
18 Lazy Life
19 Sticks ‘n’ Stones
20 Get Yourself Together
21 Driving Nicely
22 Things Are Changing
23 Don’t Tell Me Lies
24 All My Time
25 Going Back To Germany (alt take)
26 Paper Aeroplanes (take 1)
1 Baby Do You Love Me
2 Easy Living
3 Beyond The Shadow Of A Doubt, version 1
4 Beyond The Shadow Of A Doubt, master take
5 Things Are Changing: audio 1
6 Things Are Changing: audio 2
7 Things Are Changing: monitor mix 3
8 Things Are Changing: monitor mix 4
9 One Minute Woman Please: audio take 8
10 One Minute Woman Please: audio take 9
11 Beyond The Shadow Of A Doubt: audio takes 1-4
12 Baby, Do You Love Me: audio takes 1-4
13 Easy Living: audio takes 1-3
14 One Minute Woman Please: monitor mix take 8
15 One Minute Woman Please: monitor mix take 9
16 Beyond The Shadow Of A Doubt: monitor mix, 1-4
17 Baby, Do You Love Me: monitor mix takes 1-4
18 Easy Living: monitor mix takes 1-5
July's bargain spot: The wonderful Billy Fury Anthology double cd is only £6-99 this month on Amazon. As well as fabulous songs from Billy - it has awesome sleevenotes by our very own Chris Eley! Copy and paste the link below...
THE SOUND OF FURY TEAM CONTACT. Email: email@example.com
SOUND OF FURY, PO Box 157, Frodsham, WA6 1BY