‘I was lucky enough to see and photograph Ian Dury in 1976 and again in 1999 when he was noticeably ill and had to be helped on and off stage. He passed away on 27th March 2000….. Not many Reasons to be cheerful at the moment but keep hitting me with that rhythm stick !!!!!’
ALL IMAGES by Ron Hill (HillPhotographic)
Ian Dury (12 May 1942 – 27 March 2000) was a singer-songwriter and actor who rose to fame during the late 1970s, during the punk and new wave era of rock music. He was the lead singer of Ian Dury and the Blockheads and before that of Kilburn and the High Roads.
It was known for some time before his death that Dury had cancer. He was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 1996 and underwent surgery, but tumours were later found in his liver, and he was told that his condition was terminal. Upon learning of his illness, Dury and Sophy Tilson got married
In 1998, his death was incorrectly announced on XFM radio by Bob Geldof, possibly due to hoax information from a listener.[ In 1999, Dury collaborated with Madness on their first original album in fourteen years on the track “Drip Fed Fred”. Suggs and the band cite him as a great influence. It was to be one of his last recordings. He also performed again with the Blockheads in mid-1999 at Ronnie Scott’s in Soho. This was a special performance recorded for LWT’s South Bank Show and the audience were invited fans and friends of the band and crew. His deteriorating condition was evident and he had to take rests between takes and be helped on and off stage.
Ian Dury & the Blockheads’ last public performance was a charity concert in aid of Cancer BACUP on 6 February 2000 at the London Palladium, supported by Kirsty MacColl and Phill Jupitus. Dury was noticeably ill and again had to be helped on and off stage.
Dury died of metastatic colorectal cancer on 27 March 2000, aged 57. An obituary in The Guardian read: “one of few true originals of the English music scene”.[Meanwhile, he was described by Suggs as “possibly the finest lyricist we’ve seen”.