The Albert Dock, Liverpool, England
When he was about 12-years-old, Billy Fury overheard a doctor telling his mum he wouldn’t make it to 30. Billy Fury, who’d be born plain old Ronald Wycherley in April 1940, had been diagnosed with Rheumatic Fever at the age of 6. It had weakened his heart valves. But young Ron was determined not to live his life under any kind of shadow. When he was 14, his parents bought him his first guitar. The darkness and fear of his earlier diagnosis was replaced with the light and excitement of his love for music. After school came labouring jobs around Liverpool’s dockyards. But Ron carried on with the guitar, playing and singing for his workmates in local cafés and bars. It wasn’t long before he’d been talent-spotted, told to change his name to something more pop-star appropriate, and been signed by the Decca record label. His debut album, the rock n roll Sound of Fury came out in 1960, with more hits and more albums following through the decade. He was the bright young thing, the heart-throb, the golden boy. But like all golden boys, soon the gleam discoloured and the sparkle faded. By the 1970s, Billy’s career looked all but over and he’d been declared bankrupt. His comeback album in 1981 failed to make much impression on the charts and two years on, on 28 January 1983, his heart problems finally caught up with him. He collapsed at home and died in the ambulance on the way to hospital. He’d shone briefly, but he’d shone furiously. And that doctor all those years ago had been wrong. Billy Fury made it to 42.