A new year, a new edition

29 Jan

In June 2000, my book Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Life of Ian Dury was published. As an long-time admirer who’d been captivated by this inspirational British icon from a young age, I felt privileged to have written the first book about him. I still do.

For around 18 months, while I researched and wrote the book, Ian Dury’s world became my own. From the very first interview in Charlie Gillet’s vinyl-lined sitting room in Clapham, through to afternoon tea with Ian’s indomitable Aunt Moll in her cosy cottage in rural Buckinghamshire, I was let into people’s lives with a generosity that I found rather humbling. In squats, pubs, rehearsal rooms, studios, back gardens, a cafe on the end of a pier, the stories poured forth, some hilariously slapstick, others disclosing a previously hidden side to Ian’s story that challenged his Essex lad image.

Summoned to his home in Hampstead on a cold November day towards the end of my research, I was apprehensive.  I was ushered in to the living room and waited. A gravelly voice suddenly came from behind the door and the questioning began – his not mine.  I needn’t have worried. He was impressed with my persistent detective work that had unearthed Barry Anderson, his childhood pal who had accompanied him to Southend Swimming Pool on that fateful summer day when he had contracted polio. And he was delighted that I had given Barry his phone number, putting them back in touch for the first time in about 30 years. I won’t say that Ian gave me his blessing to speak to his aunt and his friend and near neighbour Rainbow George. He ordered me to. We spoke about getting together and me asking him some questions, but he was ill. A few months later, he died.

Mickey Gallagher told me the news and it was a shock. However frail Ian had looked on that visit to his home and in those final concerts, it just didn’t seem possible that someone with such an iron will and juggernaut personality was no more.

In the months before his death, he had bought a computer to write his own story. ‘Allo sausages’ was as far as he got. Putting a smile on people’s faces, being an entertainer, that was what Ian was all about. That he had never got any further is a shame: we’d have had tears rolling down our faces.

Which is all the more reason why I wanted my book to be a respectful and fitting tribute, despite the fact that it ‘went there’. Ian had told me he did not want me to do a  ‘hagiography’ and I didn’t. But what would those close to him think of such a brutally honest account? Mickey Gallagher from The Blockheads called me to say he had read it in one sitting and had cried and cried. I felt proud and relieved in equal measure.

That it has gone on to sell more than 33,000 copies is testament to the extraordinary life and talents of Ian Dury and, hopefully, that it is a well written book.  Now, 11 years later and following the release last year of the movie starring Andy Serkis, a fully updated version is about to be published by Omnibus Press. For more details about this, watch out for my next blog. In the meantime, why not subscribe to this blog, Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll, to read more about the background to the book, exclusive extracts and latest updates about the new edition.

What would you like to hear about on this blog? Add a comment below, and I’ll do my best to respond.

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6 Responses to “A new year, a new edition”

  1. Enda Sheppard January 29, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    Hi Richard – great to hear the book was success and hopefully the updated one will keep up the sales end. Gosh, is it 11 years since the original? Good luck

  2. Maggie February 6, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    I never read the book, didn’t really know it existed. How’s that for an unobservant fan? I listen to his songs most days on my walk to work – some of them are really great walking tunes. I saw him at the free concert the GLC arranged at Crystal Palace on Prince Charles’ wedding day to Diana, and in Brixton (but my memory is awfully hazy on that one). So it seems there’s another book to buy. You need to thank Phillip Jupitus for re-tweeting it! And I need to thank you for writing it.

  3. MIke February 6, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    Good to read that the book is soon to be among us again. Would be good to have a reappraisal of Ian’s albums and the times and events that defined them 🙂

  4. Cipriano February 6, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    Well done Richard! Haven’t got the book yet but I will. Ian was clearly one helluva guy and his influence won’t fade for some time – many of my kids’ generation are into him. Greatest British lyricist of the last 30-40 years for my money.

  5. Andrew Macfarlane February 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    Many years ago I had the great honour of being briefed to prosecute I’D. when he was charged with obstructing the arrest of his drummer. We both enjoyed my cross-examination of him The presiding magistrat told us both off for enjoying ourselves too much. Sadly he was convicted. But still gave me an LP!
    I have your first book and enjoyed it.

  6. arsenic99 February 6, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    Thank you – I too was unaware of the book, but will be buying it now. Only ever saw Ian once (colston hall, Bristol (I think)) but…

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