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12 May 1942 – 27 March 2000
I first heard of Ian Dury when I was about 13 years old (1980). At that time in my life I was attending a religious school for girls, which was intended to turn me into a young lady, and not the rebellious teenager that I actually became. A lot of money was wasted on those 2 years of ‘education’.
I remember being instantly attracted to Ian Dury when I first saw him on TV. He had a ‘presence’ that not all ‘stars’ have. He was disabled from a childhood bout of polio – he was different from the others. His songs titles gave parents nightmares – Sex and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll, I Wanna Be Straight, to mention just 2 of them.
And he seemed to understand every teenager’s dream – to shock their parents. Ian Dury was able to help many, many teenagers achieve that dream, although I don’t know if that was his intention.
I met Ian Dury in December 1981. He was in Perth, Australia, with his group, The Blockheads, for one concert only.
If you’ve read this post about concerts, you’ll know that it wasn’t often we got the big names in Perth. And if we did, they played in the Entertainment Centre for one concert only (or, rarely, 2 concerts if they were really famous. Or 4 concerts like Kiss did in 1980!). Tickets to concerts at the Entertainment Centre weren’t cheap – especially for a 14 year old girl.
I had a friend at that time. Her name was Maggie, and she was a few years older than me. We’d met a couple of months earlier at the Perth airport. I’d skipped school to try and meet Adam and the Ants when they arrived in Perth for their concert (1981 wasn’t such a bad year for concerts in Perth!). Maggie had been at the airport for the same reason and we clicked and became instant friends.
Maggie had some contacts, she never told me who they were, and she could always find out in which hotel the famous singers and groups were staying. Now, back then in Perth there were only 2 classy hotels – The Sheraton and The Parmelia. So, of course she could have guessed and had a 50% chance of being right most times. Occasionally some groups stayed in other, smaller, hotels. She always knew where they were.
She was right 100% of the time, so I guess she really had a contact who could tell her this information.
So, when we found out Ian Dury was coming to Perth, we made a plan to meet him and get his autograph (as you do when you’re 14). We’d already had success together meeting Adam and the Ants and The Stray Cats, so we were prepared for a positive result to our challenge of meeting Ian Dury.
Maggie found out that Ian Dury was staying at the Parmelia Hotel, and she also found out the name of his manager.
Our plan was to call his manager from the hotel’s ‘house phone’ (remember them – do they still exist?), and then ask him if he could help us to meet Ian.
The first step
So, a day or two before the concert (I honestly can’t remember some details, too much time has passed and too many beers have been had since 1981 – the memory’s a bit foggy these days), we took ourselves off to the Parmelia Hotel and one of us called his manager.
Peter Jenner came down to see us. I’ve only just found out, 38 years later, that Peter Jenner is very well connected in the music world (because I Googled him to write this post). In 1981 he was simply ‘Ian Dury’s manager’ to my 14 year old self.
He was a lovely man. We asked if we could meet Ian, and he said he didn’t know where Ian was at that time. I asked him to tell us Ian’s room number (I was a very confident 14 year old). He said he didn’t know. We asked him for his autograph. He signed my autograph book for me.
We told him that we couldn’t afford tickets to the concert and asked him if we could be on the guest list. He agreed! We couldn’t believe our luck! ‘Ask and you shall receive’ really works sometimes!
He told us that on the night of the concert, 15 December, to go to the ticket counter in the Entertainment Centre, and our two tickets will be waiting for us. He took both our names. We thanked him profusely and said goodbye.
Already we were thrilled! We hadn’t met Ian Dury yet, but we were going to his concert, for free!
Next challenge, to get permission from my mum for me to go to the concert. I figured I’d have to lie to her because she was getting tired of my behaviour after Adam and the Ants (I’d stayed out all night in the lobby of the hotel after the Ants concert – that story coming soon). I knew she wouldn’t say yes to another concert.
So, I decided to ask if I could simply stay at Maggie’s place on that night. We were good friends even though we hadn’t known each other very long, and I’d already stayed at her place before. I was sure that my mum would say ‘yes’.
Instead, she said ‘Isn’t there some group from England playing a concert that night?’.
How the hell she knew about Ian Dury’s concert I will never know (I didn’t ask her). She said that she didn’t trust me and that I wasn’t allowed to stay at Maggie’s that night.
Shit. What to do? We had tickets! Plan B. Also involving a lie.
A bit later, I told her, hey, guess what? Maggie’s mum has won tickets to this concert on a radio show, and could I please go? I don’t know what she thought, but she agreed. On the condition that she would pick me up at the front of the Entertainment Centre after the concert and take me home. I was not to try to go backstage (I’d never done that before anyway, so I don’t know what she was afraid of – except maybe Sex and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll!) and I was not to be late, she would be waiting for me.
OK, great. Another success achieved – I was going to the concert!
So, the next day (or the day after, I really can’t remember), was the day of the concert. Maggie and I were really not sure that our tickets would really be there. This venue held 8000 people, and we couldn’t imagine that we would be so lucky to be on the guest list for real. We didn’t know if Peter Jenner would really put us on the list.
We went to the concert. Our tickets were waiting for us! Thank you Peter Jenner! You’re a star!
Our seats weren’t right at the front, as you can imagine, but they weren’t right at the back either. They were pretty good seats considering that they were free.
I loved the concert! I didn’t want it to end. He was magnificent live on stage!
But end it did.
And, even though Maggie and I still wanted to meet Ian Dury, I couldn’t hang around because my mum was waiting for me outside and I had to go. We said goodbye and I left.
Maggie also went home without meeting him.
The next day, Maggie was working, but I was free. (I’m trying to work out why I wasn’t at school – maybe the Christmas holidays had already started.)
I went to the hotel by myself. I waited in the lobby. There was a British Airways pilot in the lobby, and I talked to him for a little while. I was only 14 but I’m sure he was trying to chat me up. I remember blushing profusely while talking to him, and him telling me that he found it cute when girls blushed. Shame on him!
Finally! Ian Dury and his bass player, Norman Watt Roy came out! I finally got to meet Ian Dury! What a thrill it was finally to be standing next to him. We went outside the hotel and he signed my autograph book.
Unfortunately I didn’t have a camera with me that day, so I don’t have any photos of me with Ian Dury. But, I have his autograph – and it’s super personalised. Except I don’t know what it means.
Although I was quite a confident 14 year old, I was far too star struck to ask him what ‘see face Cheryl’ meant. What could it possibly mean? I’ve been wondering this ever since. Now I’ll never know.
And Norman Watt-Roy signed it too! Even kindly correcting himself when I pointed out that my name starts with a ‘C’, not an ‘S’.
Even though Maggie didn’t get to meet Ian, I got an autograph for her too, so she was also happy.
One of the happiest days of 1981 for me, was standing next to Ian Dury as he signed my book.
I wonder if he knew how much joy he gave to people?
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