Ian Dury / May 12, 1942 - March 27, 2000

Cockney-accented singer/songwriter/actor Ian Dury was a great punk poet, talented lyricist and cult hero. After getting polio at 8, he went to a school for the disabled that "toughened" him up. Indeed he strutted the stage with confidence, despite the handicap.

His first band was Kilburn and the High Roads, who toured with The Who and broke up in '75. His next band was the entertaining music-hall spirited Ian Dury & the Blockheads and they had some lasting hits (mostly in the UK) of the new wave era. Their music was influenced by funk, reggae, disco and jazz and Dury supplied some humorous & poetic lyrics, character sketches and left-field observations. They had some classics such as the Ornette Coleman-inspired "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll", "Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3", "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick", "Superman's Big Sister" and others on Stiff Records. The band toured with Don Cherry as a guest at times.

His controversial, post-Blockheads, 1981 song "Spasticus Autisticus" was another classic. The lyrics ridicule charities set up in the name of the disabled. The song was banned by the BBC as having "offensive" lyrics, despite the brilliant wordplay by Dury, himself disabled. Personally, I hear compassion in the lyrics but what the fuck do I know? (The song later became a theme for the Paralympics).

He worked with Sly & Robbie, Roger Daltrey, Madness and others. He also did a lot of acting, working with/for Roman Polanski, Peter Greenaway, Sylvester Stallone, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits, among others. Later years found him active for polio causes and AIDS awareness. He died of cancer in 2000 and a biopic of his life has since been released to much acclaim.

Don Cherry on trumpet:

Tagged: '70s Funk Rock, '80s, Celebrate Icons, Don Cherry, Ian Dury, jazz, poet/spoken word, punk, rock, soul/funk, Video, vintage footage

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