My Old Man

29 May

Ian Dury and his son Baxter

An exclusive extract from the new updated edition of Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Life of Ian Dury – now available.

‘Baxter was five years old when he stood casually beside his dad, with his hands in the pockets of his flared trousers, outside Axford’s at 306 Vauxhall Bridge Road. Lingerie was displayed on one side of the window, with men’s shirts, jackets, hats and shoes in the other. In the reflection in the window of the outfitters that Peter Blake had told Ian about, you could see photographer Chris Gabrin’s mini van and the Woolworth store opposite. The shop and the worn mosaic paving beneath Baxter’s football boots and Ian’s Dr Martens are long gone. But the image has stood the test of time. “I only shot 24 exposures and Baxter was in just four of them,” remembered Chris. “As soon as the films were developed Ian came round and we immediately chose the same shot. We were so excited by the picture that we went straight into my darkroom and made the first print. The album title New Boots And Panties was subsequently coined by Ian.”

Just as that iconic photograph had subsequently inspired many artists to follow their own creative instincts, it was this image that led Paul [Viragh, scriptwriter] and Damian [Jones, producer] to explore the relationships that existed between Ian and Baxter and with his own father Bill. In relation to the latter, they discovered something fascinating. The spartan bed-sitter in which Bill Dury died alone from emphysema was just around the corner from Axford’s. Had Ian subconsciously been drawn to that location with his own son when he sensed success was in reach? Certainly the possibility was not lost on Paul Viragh. In the film, Ian makes a heart-wrenching visit to his father’s rented flat after his death and contemplates its modest contents: the polished black shoes lined up neatly on the bare boards beside the bed, the dentures left resting in a glass of water. As he walks out on to the pavement, he is outside Axford’s and fleetingly sees the ghostly face of his father in the window.’

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