The cleverest of late-'70s punk lyricists, the witty, frank, and genius-like Ian Dury died today in 2000.
What’s the Deal? If you like Blur, Art Brut, and/or Pulp, then please raise a glass for Ian Dury today, as it’s the eighth anniversary of his death in 2000. The man who started out in a pub rock act that opened for the Who in the early ’70s had evolved, by decade’s end, into the most brilliant frontman of punk’s salad days. Now when you hear disco-inflected boogies like “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” or glammy, Rocky Horror-sounding ditties like “Sweet Gene Vincent,” the word “punk” doesn’t come quickly to mind. But for Dury, punk was an attitude, the liberating spirit behind lyrics like “Had a love affair with Nina / In the back of my Cortina / A seasoned up hyena / Could not have been more obscener.”
Who? Dury would have been 66 today, probably continuing to cement his iconic status among British punks. The man even scored a No. 1 hit in the U.K. with “Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick.” While early labelmate Elvis Costello soared to more global fame, it was the cheeky Dury whose charm endures. Just a year after his death, an all-star cast — and by “stars,” we mean the likes of Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams, Sinead O’Connor, and Billy Bragg — recorded the tribute album, Brand New Boots & Panties, which featured reworked versions of Dury classics, many recorded with backing support from Ian’s band, the Blockheads (who are still touring to this day).
Fun Fact: Dury rejected an offer by Andrew Lloyd Webber to adapt the lyrics for Cats, a gig that made another bloke a really large pile of cash. “I hate Andrew Lloyd Webber,” Dury told The Independent in 1998. “He’s a wanker, isn’t he? … He got Richard Stillgoe to do the lyrics in the end, who’s not as good as me. He made million sout of it. He’s crap, but he did ask the top man first!”
Get Some: The Best of Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll at Amazon
Now Watch This: Ian Dury & the Blockheads, “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll”