Billy Fury was born Ronald Wycherley in Liverpool during World War 2, and in the late 50s was working as a tugboat hand on the river mersey and as a local part-time singer. His big break came when he met and befriended already-established UK rock and roller Marty Wilde, who arranged an audition for him with his manager Larry Parnes. Parnes liked what he saw and heard, and set about changing Ronald's name to the more marketable Billy Fury, following which, Fury's first single was released in 1959, the self-penned 'Maybe Tomorrow':
The opening shot in the above video shows Billy Fury with Larry Parnes.
In the early 1960s Fury gained massive popularity with a string of hits, including his versions of two Goffin/King compositions 'Halfway To Paradise' and 'I'd Never Find Another You', cut in the U.S. by Tony Orlando.
He continued to have hits through to 1966, including, in 1964, a powerful version of Conway Twitty's 'It's Only Make Believe':
The extent of the popularity of Billy Fury in the UK in the 60s makes it somewhat incredible that he never topped our charts. The nearest he came to doing so was in 1962 with his version of the classic 'Jealousy', which stalled at No.2:
Unfortunately, there was a massive downside to Billy Fury's life, with ill-health a constant issue owing to a severe bout of rheumatic fever as a child, which left him with a weak heart. It finally caused his premature death in 1983.
Only a few months earlier he had returned to the recording studio after many years and recorded his take on Bobby Rydell's 1963 hit 'Forget Him'.
That is something his legion of UK fans will never do.
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