Billy Fury died on 28th. January 1983 aged just 42 - the same age as Elvis. He had suffered ill health throughout his life.
Born in the Dingle district of Liverpool, a shy young 19 year old Ronnie Wycherley went to the Birkenhead Essoldo in the hope of interesting the shows star, Marty Wilde with some of his compositions. Thirty minutes later rock impresario Larry Parnes had pushed him out onto the stage and re-christened him - BILLY FURY. Billy was taken to London where he secured a record contract with Decca records,and in February 1959 enters the UK top twenty with his own compositions "Maybe Tomorrow"/"Gonna Type A Letter".It is the first of an unbelievable 29 hit records and he goes on to sell more records for them than any other artist, including the Rolling Stones.(He scored more hit singles in the 60’s than the Beatles!).
This would all have been a fairy tale had it not been for an illness that was to follow him throughout his life - and ultimately claim him. (rheumatic fever had left him with a weak heart and much extensive heart surgery).
FURYS TORNADOS came into Billy’s life in 1970. It had been 4 years since his last major hit but Billy was still a big star, and found huge audiences in the new cabaret venues that were emerging all over the UK. Glam rock may be taking over Britain, but Fury’s Tornados were still having to deal with the fan hysteria after each show. Guitarist Chris Raynor says -
”He was 6ft tall, handsome and a big star with a terrific voice…but he was also very shy and quite a nervous performer.This had a devestating affect on the females.They all fancied him. After each performance it was quite usual for the band to be keeping the dressing room door on its' hinges!".
It was during this period in 1972 that Billy was to make his final film. A cameo appearance as “Stormy Tempest” in the David Essex / Ringo Starr classic “That’ll Be The Day”. Also starring in the film was a certain Keith Moon.One night after filming, Billy bought Ringo and Keith up to a club that Billy and the boys were playing in Mayfair.Keith asked Billy if he could play.Billy said -"You'll have to ask Charlie (Elston) - he'll be here soon - you can't miss him - he wears a long black leather coat with a python skin collar". Charlie remembers walking across the dance floor when a manic young man with mad eyes leapt in front of him and said -
"ARE YOU CHARLIE ELSTON - I'M KEITH MOON - CAN I PLAY THE DRUMS?". - He played 3 numbers.
Fury’s Tornados continued to back Billy until his retirement through ill health in 1976. Billy and his partner, Lisa, went to live in a farm in Wales.
In 1982 a new recording contract with Polydor Records bought Billy out of retirement. Tragically on 28th January 1983 Billy lost his final battle with heart illness.
FURY’S TORNADOS remain Billy’s longest ever serving band and continue to tour in the hit show -"Halfway to Paradise - The Billy Fury Story" with all original members. Now in its 20th year and featuring the uncanny voice of Colin Gold as Fury, they remember their old friend and boss by performing live those 29 magical hits, -"I Will", "Last Night Was Made For Love", "Wondrous Place", "Jealousy", "Halfway To Paradise" and many, many more.
FURYS TORNADOS are........Chris Raynor (Lead guitar/vocals)
Charlie Elston (Keyboards/vocals)
John Raynor (drums/vocals)
Graham Wyvill (Bass/Double bass/vocals)
And as Billy Fury.........Colin Gold. (Vocals)