This is the story of how I got to meet Ian Dury and how this web site came to be.
My name is Roger Harris and when I was about 12, around 1977/1978, I used to sit next to a mate at school called JB. He was always singing these really witty and amusing songs and going on about how they were by a bloke called Ian Dury. On day I borrowed the album - NEW BOOTS AND PANTIES, and I became hooked on the fantastic lyrics. I remember the first LP I ever bought was PARALLEL LINES by BLONDIE. The second was ARMED FORCES by ELVIS COSTELLO but the third was NEW BOOTS AND PANTIES by IAN DURY. I remember my Mother saying "I don't like the look of some of those song titles" - "You'd like them even less, if you heard 'em!" I thought.
At school, around that time, every pupil had to do a talk in morning assembly to the whole year. You only had to do it once, but you also got to play a record as long as it was related to your talk. I did a talk on "Whales" and how they were going to become extinct because that gave me the excuse of convincing the teachers that "What a Waste" by Ian Dury was somehow related. I got to play my record of choice, my first public appreciation of Ian Dury's music.
Of course it was around this time that "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick" was released. I remember hearing it on the radio for the first time ever and thinking what a brilliant, catchy song it was. I was merely one of the many people that went out and bought it. It got to number one in the Charts in January 1979 and I saw Ian Dury on 'Top of the Pops' for the first time. In due course I bought DO IT YOURSELF and LAUGHTER when they were released as well. On its release, I also bought the Greatest Hits LP, JUKE BOX DURY which had on it all of Ian Dury's singles, (both A sides and B sides).
Gradually life moved on, and aged 18 in 1984, I moved away from home and went to live and work in Worthing. There, in a record shop I found 4000 WEEKS HOLIDAY and bought it immediately. It was the first Ian Dury LP, I'd seen in ages and I loved it. The release of
LORD UPMINSTER in 1981 seems to have passed me somehow, as I missed that one. Anyway, it so happened that I found out that Ian Dury was performing in Brighton later that year and so off I went to see him live for the first time. Disappointingly, he wasn't with the Blockheads but with a group called the Music Students, but "live" he was brilliant and I thoroughly enjoyed the concert.
I even got to hear "Fuck Off, Noddy" live - it is not available on record and I have never ever heard it since. Over the years, vinyl faded out and everyone moved on to buying CD's. I re-bought my four vinyl Ian Dury LP's as CD's and played them often.
Ian Dury and the Blockheads had seemed to have faded away and now I only ever saw Ian Dury in the occasional acting role. I remember being particularly pleasantly surprised in the cinema, when he turned up in a scene in the Sylvester Stallone film "Judge Dredd". Then around 1998/1999, Ian Dury came back into my life. A new album was out, with the Blockheads, MR. LOVE PANTS and, of course, I bought it - the first new one for me since buying 4000 WEEKS HOLIDAY back in 1984. It was brilliant.
I then heard that Ian Dury and the Blockheads were coming to Hay-on-Wye, a small town on the Welsh border some 21 miles away from where I live. I bought a ticket to go and see them and this time I had an idea. I was going to get Ian Dury to sign my original vinyl NEW BOOTS AND PANTIES or die in the attempt.
My wife is no great Ian Dury fan and didn't want to go. I decided to go on my own as that would give me far greater flexibility in trying to get Ian's autograph, rather than having to consider somebody else. I got to Hay-on-Wye something like 6 hours early, hoping to get his autograph when he was rehearsing or doing sound checks or something. He was due to play in a large marquee. When I tried to get near, I got turned away and after waiting for about 3 hours, I saw him arrive by car only to be whisked away out of sight. Defeated for the time being I went to queue for the concert. I had a book with me to read to pass the time and I sat by the door to the concert as the very first person in the queue, being so early. Over the next 3 hours about 500 or 600 people turned up, but I was first. As soon as the doors opened I was straight down to the front row of seats and sat right in the middle, under the centre microphone. The best seat in the house.
It was a fantastic concert. Everybody was seated but gradually people got up to dance and by the time of the encores, everybody was up on their feet. Ian was carried on and off stage and was obviously fairly ill at that time. It was the 1st June 1999. I remember staring at Ian fascinated at his sung his witty lyrics. I was only about ten feet away from him. The concert finished and I returned to my quest to get his autograph.
I hung around for an hour or so afterwards, whilst people drifted away. I had spoken to a couple of roadies and minders, to see if I could somehow get backstage but nothing was doing. I heard that Ian had a caravan at the back of the marquee although it was hidden from view behind a large hedge. With about a half a dozen people, I hung around nearby.
I asked some security bloke if there was any chance of getting Ian Dury to sign my NEW BOOTS AND PANTIES LP and helpfully, he said he'd go and see. When he returned he said, "As there is only half a dozen of you, Ian will see you all in his caravan". I couldn't believe it! What a guy! What other star would do that for his fans?
I was the second person of the six to go into the caravan as I recall. I went down a path round the hedge and up into Ian's caravan and there he was sitting down on a window seat on my left. It's always great to meet a hero, but what do you say? "Hello, Mr. Dury, thanks for seeing me, would you sign my New Boots and Panties album, please?" "Yeah, sure" says Ian. Being 6 foot 2 inches, I was towering over the seated Ian so I crouched down at his feet and gave him my album with the classic main picture of Ian and his son Baxter outside the shop window, face up for him to sign. He immediately turned it over and wrote on the back of it "Roger nother day Ian Dury" (whatever that meant). I had particularly wanted him to sign it on the front, so I said "Would you sign it on the front as well, just 'Ian Dury'" and he dutifully obliged. I was thrilled. Sensitive to the fact that there were other people for him to see, I knew it was time to go. "Thanks for that, Mr. Dury" I said and turned to go, thrilled that I had not only got my album signed but met the great man himself as well.
As I turned away, I released that sitting opposite Ian were the rest of the Blockheads. Bizarrely (and no doubt it appeared, rudely) I had not seen them there before, having focused all my attention on Ian. I felt a bit of a twat having effectively ignored them without even realising it.
I said something to the effect of "Hi, Guys, I didn't see you there" and I then asked Chaz Jankel and Norman Watt-Roy to sign the back of my NEW BOOTS AND PANTIES which they did. I only asked them to sign it as they were the only two who had originally both worked on the album, besides, I knew that my time was really up and I didn't want to outstay my welcome. I got the feeling that the others were a bit put out that I wasn't asking for their autographs, but although I would have loved to have got their autographs, I would have wanted it to be on an album they had worked on and I had only bought a copy of NEW BOOTS AND PANTIES with me. If only I could go back in time and do it all again!
"Thanks for your time", I said and left, clutching my signed album like I was holding the Holy Grail.
It was in 1999 that I had just started setting up a couple of web sites, purely as a hobby on various subjects that interested me. I had bought the web domain name "http://www.iandury.org.uk" and I put the story up of me meeting Ian Dury and the Blockheads on that site, that being the only fairly good web address I could buy at the time.
In March 2000, I heard with great sadness of Ian's death. I had known that he had been battling cancer for many years so it wasn't really a surprise.
So we move onto April 2004, still a committed Ian Dury fan, I saw a repeat of the old BBC documentary, 'On My Life', originally screened back on 25th September 1999. As I watched it, it rekindled all the old passion for Ian Dury and the Blockheads that I have had over the years. My original Ian Dury web site had long since expired and I immediately regretted it and went to find out what other Ian Dury web site names were available. Imagine my surprise at finding that I could buy "http://www.iandury.com" - surely the best possible 'Ian Dury' web site name!
I immediately bought it and set out to attempt to make the best fan web site for Ian Dury on the net. Whether it is or isn't will be for other fans to decide. I immediately bought all the Ian Dury albums I had missed over the years and put in many hours work, listening to them and typing up lyrics and creating these web pages. There is nothing in this for me, financially, I hasten to add. I don't sell advertising or make any money from having a web site online. I just wanted to have a place where an Ian Dury fan could go and remember the great man, the great songs and see the great lyrics, not forgetting the fantastic musicians who backed him and wrote all the music for his songs.
It is only when you actually read Ian Dury's lyrics that you really appreciate how clever they are!
I launched this web site on 12th May 2004 as that would have been Ian Dury's 62nd birthday.
Thanks for all the great lyrics, Ian, this site is dedicated to your memory.
Roger Harris, 12th May 2004