By David and Caroline Stafford
"There's only ever been two English rock 'n' roll singers," Ian Dury said, "Johnny Rotten and Billy Fury."
Butter adverts have tainted Johnny's status, but Billy's combination of beauty, sex, innocence, talent, charisma and vulnerability has never been matched. The Sound of Fury, his first L.P., is still widely revered as the best British rock'n'roll record ever made.
When he first appeared on TV, a generation of teenagers found true love, and his post-rock'n'roll heartbreak ballads were the essential soundtrack to adolescent angst. In 1973, he was brought out of semi-retirement to play Stormy Tempest - to some extent a parody of himself - in the movie That'll Be The Day. The magic rose above the parody. He never knew how not to be magnificent.
David and Caroline Stafford guide the reader through Billy's troubled childhood in Liverpool, via gold and silver lame, to his later years as a farming ornithologist, and his comeback cut short by his premature death. Billy Fury was a key figure on that watershed between post-war privations and sixties excess. He knew everybody, auditioned the Beatles to be his backing band, met and outhandsomed Elvis, partied with Keith Moon and hosted acid parties. Yet, throughout the mayhem, he always remained true to himself- diffident and amused.
Halfway To Paradise tells the full story with the compassion and affection due to an artist who, decades after his death, still has the power to command admiration and adoration.