THE music of the legendary Billy Fury lives on through his own original backing group – and they’re heading for Woking.
The Tornados will be coming to the New Victoria Theatre to perform in the hit show Halfway To Paradise – The Billy Fury Story on Wednesday (10 February).
The singer – born Ronald Wycherley in Liverpool and known as the ‘British Elvis’ – died in 1983 at the age of just 42, ironically the same age Presley was when he passed away in 1977.
After playing on all the hits like Last Night Was Made For Love, I Will, Jealousy, A Thousand Stars and Halfway To Paradise, lead guitarist Chris Raynor says that he will never forget the heady days of playing on stage with Fury.
“My first night was an eye opener,” he recalls. “Billy entered the dressing room at about 8pm looking every inch a pop star. He politely thanked me for learning his songs, shook my hand and welcomed me aboard.
“But I wasn’t prepared for the hysteria and mayhem surrounding a Fury show – I had to flee for my life! Even six years after his last hit, the fans would go wild – and this became a regular occurrence.”
Chris adds that, as he gradually got to know Fury, he became aware of a man who wasn’t comfortable with being the star and all that went with it.
“He would say on stage ‘I’m very fond of birds… the feathered variety’, and he was,” jokes Chris. “We were often in the Range Rover when it would screech to a halt, Billy would jump out and be off over the hedges having spotted something flying around. This was his real world.”
Fury retired due to health problems in 1976 and Chris recalls: “I visited his home in St John’s Wood shortly after a heart operation… Billy had a lot to deal with in his short life, but he did it with courage and a smile.”
The Halfway To Paradise show will see Billy come alive again on a giant screen while the Tornados play live below, as they had done all those years ago.
Many of the 29 smash hits the band amassed during the 1960s and ’70s will be sung by Colin Gold.