Dickie Pride

The Complete Dickie Pride CD is available from Peaksoft

Dickie Pride was a member of the Larry Parnes stable of singers, who for a period was very close to Billy.  On one occasion, they simulated the American Indian practice of cutting their arms and allowing their blood to mingle, to become blood brothers.

Dickie Pride's son, Richard Ludt, who now lives in the USA, copies his father's famous pose.






Billy, bass guitarist Tex Makins and Dickie Pride.  Picture courtesy of Moya Gleave.








Billy , unknown person and Dickie Pride.  Picture courtesy of Moya Gleave.






This following is a cached page from the site Pride Without Prejudice. I highly recommend a visit to the site.

Pride with Prejudice

Why I wrote Pride with Prejudice - by Charles Langley

Dickie was a great singer who came to a sad end despite Billy Fury's attempts to save him.

Quite what prompted me to want to write a play about Dickie, and include a good chunk of his relationship with Billy, I cannot now exactly recall. It was probably one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Now, more than five years later, we're off with a brand new play that takes a close look at Dickie Pride and his pals Billy Fury and Duffy Power, and the impresario Larry Parnes.

Dickie is little remembered today and when he is it is often only for his one Top 30 hit Primrose Lane, which was hardly his best. What he ought to be remembered for was his extraordinary talent, his scorching stage performances and his marvellous voice that brought other singers, and even the stage hands, running into the wings to watch - a rare event on a tour, I can assure you.

Dickie came to an extremely unfortunate end, in that despite his huge talent he was the first British singer to die of drugs - or at least, the first one I can discover - and this despite Billy making several valiant attempts to save him.

In a way Dickie's decline into mental illness and drug addiction, mirrored Billy's physical decline from heart disease. I don't want to overdo the coincidences, but the fate of both men somehow seems to echo the fate of the world that Parnes built before the Beatles.

In Pride With Prejudice I've tried to recreate in part the excitement of the earliest days of British rock with its meteororic rises to fame and equally fast descents, and reproduce a short extract of what it was like to be backstage - and front stage - at a Parnes show in the late 50s and early 60s.

Dickie gets to sing Slippin'n'Slidin, Billy, Duffy and Dickie do Three Cool Cats and Baby Let's Play House, and - because I know you'll insist - Billy sings Half Way to Paradise - or perhaps Wondrous Place - we have not quite decided at the time of writing!

There is quite a lot of fun along the way, but essentially PRIDE WITH PREJUDICE cannot help but be a tragedy, in the sense that having been given every talent God could bestow upon a singer, Dickie Pride had in his make-up the seeds of his destruction.

His descent into madness and drug abuse is a dreadful story of our times and while not every bit of it can be told in the confines of a small stage - the man, his music and, most of all, his mind are brought to life.

A star at just 17, Dickie Pride from Croydon was by common consent the finest singer to emerge from British pop in the late 1950s, an era that produced Sir Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele, Adam Faith and, of course, Billy Fury.

A dramatic performer, he came to the brink of greatness and then fell into an abyss, pushed over the edge by heroin and madness.

Unlike others, this was no self inflicted indulgence, but a classic Greek tragedy. He had genuine mental problems that could have been dealt with effectively enough today, but in the early 1960s were little understood.

Despite the efforts of Billy, who tried to save him by insisting that Parnes employed him when he was extremely reluctant to do so and Duffy Power, he ended up in a mental hospital. There the theory of the day dictated that drug problems were caused by depression, and that if the depression could be cured then all the other problems would disappear.

Unfortunately, the doctors of the period had no other way of curing serious depression than lobotomy; an operation that involved opening his skull and cutting out a chunk of his brain.

The play opens with Dickie already seriously ill in hospital being treated by a young psychiatrist desperate to cure him, while his boss the Professor is interested only in getting a good research paper out of the case.

Then we follow Dickie through the early days of British rock from his discovery by Larry Parnes - in a pub in Tooting, not the Old Kent Road as it says in the reference books - through an exciting world of rock'n'roll, glitz, vodka, dope and increasing paranoia and disappointment, into his final decline.

One of Dickie's greatest problems was that Parnes would not let him sing the songs he wanted to sing. Parnes would only let him sing rock, while Dickie wanted to sing big standards by Cole Porter, Rogers and Hart and Gershwin and so on. Billy Fury got round this problem by writing his own songs, but this was not a route open to Dickie.

Instead he stewed in frustration until there can be little doubt the this artistic block contributed to his mental decline.

The story in the play of Dickie trying to rip his own face off is a true one, told to me by Parnes' former colleague Hal Carter, although in the play Duffy Power gets to tell it. Nothing could more dramatically show the pitch of desperation he had reached.

While Dickie's plight is bad enough, the situation of his young psychiatrist Dr Riley is not much better. So frustrated does he become by his inability to produce a cure that he takes to drink and drugs himself, until it is no longer clear, even to him, whose head he is supposed to be examining, or even inhabiting. Is it his? Is it Dickie's? Or is he somewhere else entirely?

The point being that it was an insane world that drove Dickie Pride mad, not the other way round. Properly handled, in a world not inhabited by lunatics like Parnes, he would probably be singing to us still. And in a way he is, but that would be to give away too much of the play.

Finally, how good was Dickie Pride? Joe Brown, himself a No1 artiste, a contemporary, a great musician and a man who commands the respect of fans everywhere, summed it up when he said: "Dickie Pride was the most talented of us all, he was a great singer. Ask any of the boys and they'll all say Dickie Pride."

The playwright did, and they did. Dickie died of drugs related illness in 1969. He was 27.

Finally, I would would like to record my thanks to everyone who helped in the research for this play, including Duffy Power, Dickie's sister Ann Parsons, his former girlfriend Mandy Atkinson, Hal Carter, Joe Brown, Alan Wheeler and a host of others, to whom I apologise if I have not named you here. You all have my undying thanks.I would also like to add a special note of thanks to Stuart and Tina Lowes, whose unfailing help, encouragement and enthusiasm never flagged.