Ricky Gould and website www.billyfury.co.uk
When I recently received a call from Ricky, son of Billy Fury Tribute performer Colin Gold and for many years now a key member of Halfway to Paradise-The Billy Fury Story, I was surprised at how the years had flown since 1996/97 and the start of that great tribute show. Like his Dad, Ricky has no edge and is genuine, not always the case in the music world as we know, and it was a pleasure to chat with him. Although I had met Ricky most recently at Milton Keynes when he was doing the projection for the show and I knew he had stood in for Colin on a few occasions, it was as a child that I still thought of him. Well, now very much an adult and having cut his teeth on what was The Billy Fury Experience show for years, together with being a devoted Billy Fury fan at a comparatively young age, Ricky is perfectly placed to be promoting the legacy of Billy Fury, and more especially long-after the ageing main fan base has succumbed to the inevitable-myself included. Younger but genuine fans such as Ricky, our great friend Lee Fry and those tribute acts with mileage left can combine for a while yet, and make sure that Billy’s music is not only played on air and internet, but eventually live as well, for which there is no substitute. The differing abilities and diverse approach of the acts we know, makes for a great Billy Fury musical melange as they each play to their strengths -for which we should be grateful and when things have quietened down, support in any way we can. After an unavoidable sabbatical which just happened to be concurrent to Covid-19 we do hope that the Billy Fury Story will roll again in the future, and our best wishes go to all of the band and other self-employed tribute acts at this extremely difficult time. Our thoughts are naturally with all workers of any discipline who are at the ‘coal face’ right now –may they be safe.
Because Billy’s voice was so very special and highly unique, combined with an incredible non-replicable stage presence and classic rock’n’ roll looks in particular, we are all very aware that nothing can equate to the real thing. However, like the best of the Elvis, Holly and Orbison etc. tribute acts-giving genuine and good performances in theatres and hotels etc., including good Billy Fury ones, can promote this great music and continue to lift not only our generation but hopefully future ones too, as they discover the magic and sheer heart and soul of it. Indeed, there is so much soul in performances by so many of those great solo artists and some bands of our generation-and even before from We’ll Meet Again, through Norman Wisdom’s Don’t Laugh at Me to Billy’s Maybe Tomorrow, Baby How I Cried, I’m Lost Without You and so many others. Soul is certainly not confined to Soul Music-great though much of it is-far from it. It is also true I believe, that ours and preceding generations ,were, despite the great raw blues edge of pioneering rock’n’ roll, far more sentimental than people today, which is why the softer sounds from our time(roughly 1960-65) don’t sit so well against 90s and 21st Century music, or get the acclaim which is due. Regarding live music we at the Sound of Fury have always, in so far as we have been able, supported Billy Fury tribute acts and others including good old Marty Wilde who feature some Billy numbers in their acts, and we hope that will continue once we are able to safely do so. Their contribution in helping to keep Billy’s name alive, anathema though it may be to some fans, should not be underrated-most of us really are grateful.
Regarding musical history ,far too many younger generations already have little or no idea of what happened before they were born (as they regularly and annoyingly cry out on quiz shows etc.), but they should all, as we did, imbibe the music of previous generations -in addition to other social and world history. Without an understanding of the past, musically or otherwise, there can be no real appreciation of the present, or concept of the likely future. Realistically, if not promoted sufficiently (and national radio does not do enough for our generation already), our music,(less perhaps the Beatles who seem to be immortal) could end up neglected like so much of that great music from the era of Louis Armstrong, Vera Lynn, Nat King Cole ,Frank Sinatra and the wonderful Fats Domino onwards. In particular, the music from the early to mid-60s has never received the acclaim dished out to that which immediately preceded and followed it. It was good that the recent sad death of the mighty Little Richard was mentioned on the news-but how many music lovers below age seventy know how truly great and influential he was-or how beautiful his voice was when he sang gospel music. A TV tribute should be aired-with clips from his UK Granada TV Show, or even better a career retrospective. Sadly, when was the last time you heard any Fury track but Halfway to Paradise on a Radio 2 Show-serious Jockin’ seems to know only that song for starters! Of course we are grateful when it is featured-but Billy was so much more. Indeed, even Elvis, luckily still highly popular and well supported by fans, does not seem to get the airplay or media acclaim which gets dished out to the Beatles-and that is scandalous. The baton that we will eventually be handing over, indeed have already partially done, to some younger fans, will not be a sinecure that’s for sure; just as we in the fan club have had to struggle against industry disinterest and complacency when trying to promote Billy over the years, so they may find difficulty also. They can however at least keep the internet alive with things Billy! Luckily you-tube is awash with clips of these great artists and there are other sites featuring discographies and access to songs often still available only on vinyl away from the web.
We are of course extremely grateful to Universal/Decca for the opportunities given to us to participate in Billy releases over the years, (with mixed results but overall positive effort), and to what used to be called Odeon DVD too, but I must also say thank heavens for the independent labels such as Peaksoft for instance. Disappointingly despite our best efforts there is still the need for a ‘Decca Year’s box set, the complete ‘Polydor Years’ /80s set, complete ‘EMI Years’ set perhaps (if more master tapes can be located)and some career spanning live recordings or rare acetate tracks perhaps as they turn up. Perhaps even a whole career retrospective to include those elusive tracks such as Over The Hills and Far Away that Hal Carter told me about (but sadly never was able to get a copy to me). We should not give up on future album releases, CD/selective vinyl even, although it’s true that CD sales have decreased markedly, even before the pandemic. At the very least every known recording/performance should be on-line.
I recognise that it’s on the ‘net’ where the majority of the performers of yesterday and indeed today and their fans now seem to have found a home-You Tube and face-book etc., but presently it’s not for me and I am sure many others will, once this awful time has passed, also look forward to seeing Billy’s music performed live again, and new album or DVD releases of material. Ricky, with his new website will presumably link, work with and promote one hopes, others like our friends Lee Fry with his Billy Fury Archive, Colin Paul with his Billy Fury Appreciation Society, face-book fans, and the Sound of Fury through our newsletters and old friend Alan Coombe on the venerable and frankly irreplaceable billyfury.com. The Sound of Fury, via Alan seeks to keep this very important archive and social history, very much alive. I am sure there is room for all of us in the Billy Fury fan world, and although ideally it should be avoided, if there is some repetition on sites so be it. Ricky, I am sure my team and so many fans of The Billy Fury Story will join me in wishing you good luck with your Billy Fury website venture.
Chris Eley – The Sound of Fury. 15th May 2020.