As inspirational as he was idiosyncratic, Ian Dury was a true Stiff star. Born in 1942, he contracted polio before the age of ten. In the 1960s he studied art under Peter Blake and in the 1970s became a teacher himself at the Canterbury School of Art. It was the death of Be Bop A Lula singer Gene Vincent in 1971, that inspired Dury to move into music.
His musical roots were in the same band as another Stiff artist, Humphrey Ocean: Kilburn & The High Roads. According to early Stiff press officer Andy Murray, “Ian (joined the label) after Kilburn & The High Roads broke up. Nobody else would sign him, and he was managed by the Clash’s management Blackhill Enterprises who were only next door…”
Before his releases co-credited The Blockheads, came the seminal debut 7”, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (BUY 17). This single can be found on what, to many, is Stiff’s most memorable LP, New Boots and Panties! (SEEZ 004). It’s also worth looking out 2004’s Brand New Boots and Panties! tribute album in which Paul McCartney has a stab at Dury’s I'm Partial To Your Abracadabra and fellow Stiff Wreckless Eric tackles Clever Trevor.
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll - still seen on T-shirts to this day – became Stiff’s first million-seller. And Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick (BUY 38) spent 15 weeks on the UK chart, hitting number 1. The follow-up did pretty well, too when Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3 (BUY 50) reached number three. Classics all, but none crystallize his outlook more than the song that got him started in the first place, BUY 23: Sweet Gene Vincent.