Monday, 12 May 2014

Sign Here Please - Ian Dury

My family's move to Ipswich in 1975 afforded me regular access to live music for the first time, as local venue, The Gaumont, was a stop on the national circuit and only a short distance from home. After a concert, my pals and I invariably headed straight round to the back of the building, in the hope of getting our programmes autographed as the band headed from the stage door to the tour bus - as a result I amassed quite a collection after a few years. Reality started to bite in the early 1980s, however, when I found myself in charge of a record shop in Essex and discovered that managing my personal finances was trickier than managing staff and stock levels. Consequently, I sold the majority of my autographed programmes for a pittance (along with large swathes of my record collection and anything else that wasn't absolutely essential at the time) to help make ends meet. Just a precious few souvenirs have survived from those evenings at the Gaumont.

In July 1979, a week before the release of 'Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3', Ian Dury & the Blockheads came to town for a two night stand. Perhaps it was because it was the first of those two shows and he was in no hurry to go anywhere, or maybe it was what he always did, but my pals and I were saved a wait round at the back door, when, 10 minutes after the concert ended and the majority of the audience had dispersed, Ian ambled back into view from the wings, sat himself down on the lip of the stage and began chatting with whoever was still around. Typically, on the one occasion where I had all the time in the world to grab an autograph, I found myself with nothing for him to sign. There either weren't any programmes available or I chose not to buy one that evening, I can't remember which. Half a dozen of us chewed the fat with Ian for ten minutes while I patted my pockets, trying to find a scrap of paper for him to squiggle on. I opened my wallet and there it was - a pound note. I handed it over and asked Ian if he'd mind signing it. He gave a big, wheezy laugh, lent over the note and wrote 'Ian X' and went to pass it back, then changed his mind. 'Hang on a minute' he said, before adding more writing beneath his autograph. 'What's that say?' I asked. 'I'm Mr 10%' he said with a grin.

Ian Dury would've been 72 today. Here he is in 1983 with 'Really Glad You Came', a post-Blockheads single, perhaps sonically a little of its time, but a neglected gem nonetheless. The TV show is Pebble Mill at One and Ian looks less than thrilled to be there. Check out that stare at the end of the song!


Anonymous said...

Lovely story 'bout a great man. Shame you had to part with so much but, still, the memories, eh?

C said...

Wonderful story and memorabilia!
He was a great character, wasn't he? and I appreciate him even more now that I'm older.

Now...a weird little thing here... I was in the Ipswich Gaumont audience for his gig the very next night! Small world! I had a schoolfriend whose sister lived in Ipswich, she got us tickets and we kipped there for the night.
Sadly I didn't stay for autographs...

Old Pa's Corner said...

Another Gem TS....great story....just sold my Martin Sharpe Dylan Poster for £1020 on Ebay...Looks like a couple of dealers were bidding so must be worth is in Belgium now and I have some money in my account....40th wedding annevesary in July.

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