Almost 30 years to the day after the death of legendary rock and roller Billy Fury, his band are set to bring his hits back to Chelmsford Civic Theatre in the hit show Halfway to Paradise.
Born in the Dingle district of Liverpool, a shy 19-year-old Ronnie Wycherley went to the Birkenhead Essoldo in the hope of interesting the show’s star Marty Wilde with some of his compositions.
Thirty minutes later rock impresario Larry Parnes had pushed him out onto the stage and re-christened him – Billy Fury.
Billy was taken to London where he secured a recording contract with Decca records and in February 1959 entered the UK Top 20 with his own compositions Maybe Tomorrow. It was the first of an unbelievable 29 hit records and he went on to sell more records for them than any other artist including the Rolling Stones and turned down The Beatles as his backing band during the ‘60s.
Fury’s Tornados came into Billy’s life in 1970, they are Chris Raynor, Charlie Elston, John Raynor and Graham Wyvill. It had been four years since his last major hit, but Billy was still a big star and found huge audiences in the new cabaret venues that were emerging all over the UK.
Glam rock may have been taking over Britain, but Fury’s Tornados were still having to deal with the fan hysteria after each show.
Fury’s Tornados remain Billy’s longest ever serving band and continue to tour in the hit show Halfway to Paradise – The Billy Fury Story with all the original members.
Now in its 16th year and featuring Londoner Colin Gold as Fury, they remember their old friend and boss by performing his 29 magical hits.
Chris Raynor, lead guitar and vocals, says: “Apart from Colin we are the original members. We were Billy’s backing band up until he retired through ill health.
“When he stopped, we stopped. He asked us to go back on the road just before he died. I was told he wasn’t well enough and it transpired that was the case.
“This show will be a fitting tribute to Billy, it’s a celebration of his music. We may not have Billy, but we’ve got Colin and he’s uncannily like him.“ Halfway to Paradise is set to a giant nostalgic moving backdrop of the wonderful era and includes personal movie footage of Billy.
Halfway to Paradise is at Chelmsford Theatre, Civic Centre, Duke Street, tonight at 7.45pm. Details: 01245 606505, www.chelmsford.gov.uk