An extract from Chapter 8: Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Life of Ian Dury
‘Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick’ was released on November 23, 1978 (Buy 38) coupled with the deliciously comic ‘There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards’, co-written with Russell Hardy. In this, he doffed his cap to Noel Coward, Einstein, Vincent Van Gogh and other legends, concluding that they ‘probably got help from their mum’. It was an instant radio hit. Boney M’s Christmas release ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ was at number one when ‘Hit Me’ entered the UK Top 75 on December 9 and began its glorious ascent. Ian Dury fever was spreading around Britain and at a gig at the Ilford Odeon in east London on December 23, such was the exuberance of the audience that the floor caved in. A sagging carpet was the only thing which saved the po-going fans from flaling into the basement. By the new year, the record had its sights firmly on the top spot, which was now occupied by Village People’s gay anthem ‘YMCA’. On January 27, 1979, Ian Dury & The Blockheads celebrated their first number one.
Fred Rowe recalls the moment when Ian heard the news: “We were on the beach in Cannes when ‘Hit Me’ went to number one. The hotel staff brought us a bottle of champagne on a tray and said to Ian, ‘Your record ‘Hit Me’ has gone to number one’. I remember when we first kicked off with Kilburn & The High Roads, Ian said, ‘I can’t sing,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, but great lyrics Ian, I could listen to them all day’. He said, ‘It might be a number one,’ and I said, ‘I tell you what Ian. If you ever get a number one with this sort of work, I’ll eat a piece of shit.’ So that day on the beach, Ian said to me, ”Ere, I’m going to find you a bit of shit around here to eat’.”