|I was a massive fan of Billy's in the 60s, writes Mags Cummings. I lived in Manchester and the first time I saw Billy was at the Manchester Hippodrome in a Larry Parnes Extravaganza. Billy was backed by The Blue Flames featuring Georgie Fame (wearing a striped jacket) on piano.
I was also lucky enough to see all the Wham TV programmes live at the studio in Didsbury and I saw some Boy Meets Girls there.
I saw Eddie Cochran in the show that he did just a short time before his tragic death.
I later became good friends with a number of fans from all over the country, but particularly with Wendy White and her friend Jan who ran the Leicester branch of Billy's fan club.
We (a group of around eight or so) became very friendly with Billy and he would allow us to stay and chat to him when he did his pre-show signing sessions.
Billy was a truly lovely guy, very shy and very genuine. My friend and I went to a show in Stoke one time and arrived at the station for our journey home. Billy was in the buffet with Hal Carter and when he saw us on the opposite platform he crossed the footbridge and stayed with us chatting about his forthcoming release (Jealousy) and even sang it to us to remind us of the tune. When we got on the train he kissed us both goodbye. We were in seventh heaven!
In fact, Billy gave me my first real kiss at Buxton Pavilion Gardens when I was around 16 when I squeezed under a gate which was locked. He was trapped in there in his car and Hal had gone off to find someone to unlock the gate.
I had given Billy a cake that night for his birthday. He said: "Come here" and gave me a very passionate and long kiss. The girls on the other side of the gate were going crazy. None of them was as thin as I was then and couldn't fit under the gate.
We were supplied with tickets by the Vernon Girls, Barbara and Maureen. Along with Billy there was Marty Wilde, Joe Brown, Michael Cox, Dickie Pride, Jess Conrad, the Vernon Girls and many of the other Parnes boys, plus guest artistes such as Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent.
On the day before the last show I took the day off school and went along to rehearsals. It was a lovelv sunny day and the big studio doors were open for much of the time. The guys kept popping outside for some fresh air and at one point Billy emerged and asked us where he could get some cigarettes. We took him to the shop (about a quarter ot`a mile away). He told us that he was going to be doing a summer season in Great Yarmouth and we all vowed to go.
So off we went in dribs and drabs, pretending that we'd just been to the loo (there were about four of us). We went to the bar and ordered our drinks and mixed in with the crowd.
Billv saw us and came over and asked how we'd got in and I said: "Never mind, just keep quiet." He just laughed and said: "Well done."
We were even invited to a party at the Gamblers' house, which was a riot. I just about managed to catch the coach the next day.
During the summer we spent two weeks in Great Yarmouth and stayed in a caravan for the first week and a guest house for the second. It was next door to the house where some of the guys from the show were staying.
One night a friend and I had a few too many drinks and had to return to the caravan. As we walked or probably staggered along the prom lads in cars kept offering us lifts and we were getting a bit fed up.
When we heard a voice say: "Get in," we were just about to tell them to go away when we saw that it was Billy in his Humber Super Snipe. We jumped in and he asked us what on earth we had been doing.
I was so sozzled that I kept poking him in the back and gabbling on about all sorts of nonsense. I said I liked his car and he told us that Larry had bought it for him and that it was a horrible monster of a thing and he hated it.
He dropped us at our caravan and I invited him in for a drink and he said: "Some other time - get to bed."
He told us that he had things to do. The next day we read in the evening paper that his car had been stolen and crashed. Very fishy!
Billy and Karl Denver had a Lotus 7 and you could hear them racing along the prom in the early hours. Much more fun than the Super Snipe.
Another night after a show, our pals Wendy and Jan who ran the fan club were meeting Billy in the theatre. I was not happy that I was excluded, so I sneaked in through the stage door along with my friends Majorie and Pat and through a door which led to beneath the stage.
We found another door at the far end and opened it slowlv to find that it led into the orchestra pit. Sitting in the front stalls were two of the Gamblers so I said: "Psst, psst." They pretended not to see us until at last they said: "Come on" and let us through into the theatre.
Mr Jay, who owned the theatre, was going to throw us out but Billy came to our rescue yet again and persuaded him to let us stay. He truly was a wonderful guy.
We travelled the country to all the shows, usually getting front row seats so that all the performers knew us. We were "super fans" not groupies. We knew all the tricks, like leaving the theatre as Bifly was singing his last song and dashing to the stage door so that we could catch him leaving and have a quick word.
All the audience were calling for more and chanting: "We Want Billy," little knowing that he was halfway home by now.
The time I most recall, though, was when Billy saw us as he drove past with Johnny Laker who was his road manager for the season. I lifted my skirt to show a stocking top and suspender and Billy turned the car around and came back, inviting friend Pam, who fancied Johnny, and myself to get in the car. My good friend Marjorie pulled me back and wouldn't let me go and he eventually drove off. I never forgave her for that!
Once I sat on the stage in the spotlight at the Apollo in Manchester, presented him with a huge birthday card that I had made for him and he sang Halfway to Paradise to me. The girls in the audience were going crazy.
We visited Billy's Mum and Dad for tea in Garston and Dad went up into the loft to bring down all Billy's momentoes, gifts etc. I had given him many of them, including the cake from Buxton, which was in a cabinet in the front room.
Knowing Billy was a great privilege in my life and I will never forget him as long as I live. I miss him greatly.
I met Karl Denver a few years back through my son Ricky, who encountered him in a record shop and we became friends. He took a great interest in my son's band Monomania and gave him great encouragement and support.
We would all meet for a drink every couple of months until he became ill and, of course, died just before Christmas, 1998. We talked about Billy frequently. Karl was extremely fond of him, as was everyone who knew him.
Today: Mags and her husband John have been happily married since she was 24.
Mags runs the excellent website of the Billy Fury In Thoughts Of You fan club.
It was fantastic and when Billy came on stage the place went mad.
I can still hear the girls now.
Affter performing a few songs Billy started to sing a slow song at the edge of the stage. The girl fans went wild and I cannot be sure what happened - either Billy fell into the old orchestra pit, or was pulled by fans and he was helped back on stage.
His pink jacket was all covered in dust, however he carried on.
After the show me and my friends all went to the Kursal which was a very big amusement park and we saw all the stars of the show enjoying themselves trying to throw balls to knock the lady out of bed, which was the big hit in those days seeing that the ladies were dressed in short nighties.
I have always been a great fan of Billy Fury and saw him many times in the Essex area at cinemas and dance halls.
The other great that I rate up there with Billy was Johnny Kidd and the Pirates with Billy just about coming out on top.
I still constantly play Billy's tapes/CDs and last year saw the stage show Halfway To Paradise. Although it was very good there will never be another Billy Fury.
Moya in New Zealand has been kind enough to share these photographs with us. You'll have to tell us the stories behind them sometime, Moya.
I was living in Peterborough at the time.
My friend was secretary to booking agent Arthur Howes
It was 1959 when she asked me if I would like to see Billy Fury, who was appearing in Northampton.
That was when I first met him. We sat enjoying afternoon tea before the
show. He mentioned he had a boxer dog called Crackers and I said I had a boxer dog called
Beauty. There was joke about the two of them getting together.
Needless to say it didn't work. He was recognised instantly.
We went back to 7 Grosvenor Place where I met Vince Eager (who I have recently met up with after 43 years). Well I missed the last train home, so Billy said he would take me.
Larry parnes was on business, so he "borrowed" his pink car with gold lamé seats and started to drive me back to Peterborough.
We almost got there but we had a puncture. Billy had noticed a small petrol station a mile or so back, but it was 2am.
Desperate, we arrived at the station and Billy threw stones at the bedroom window of the owner, who wasn't too amused until he thought he recognised Billy.
So he made him sing to prove who he was. The tyre was patched up and we arrived at my house to be confronted by my frantic mother.
I introduced Billy and she said: " I don't care who he is."
Anyway who could not like Billy? My mother was no exception.
He liked her and said she was just like his mother.
A few days later he telephoned me at work and said that Larry Parnes was driving around Piccadilly Circus and the same tyre had blown, and the truth was out because there was the new patch on the tyre. He never did find out who had taken the car.
We continued our friendship by telephone and
letters, and with me travelling up to London, but life became impossible as he became more in demand.
She'd decided that my new husband wouldn't have liked me to keep it. Mothers!
It will never go away.
I have been a Billy fan since 1959, age 14, when I first heard Maybe Tomorrow and saw him on programmes like Thank Your Lucky Stars, etc.
I joined his fan club in 1961, which was then run by Frances Crook (where are you now?)
I first saw Billy in person at the Marquee club in London via the fan club.
He was doing a recording for TV and was actually pulled off stage by some over-enthusiastic fans (not me of course!)
I went along with my friend Rosemary Boxall - where are you now?
I got Billy's autograph and exchanged a few words with him.
In 1962 the fan club invited all members to Billy's 21st birthday party in London (he was really 22 of course, but we didn't know that at the time.) I was 17 then and took along my 12-year-old sister, Susan, as we were able to take a friend.
After Billy's birthday cake had been cut and distributed, Billy signed the huge cake board and presented it to Susan! Was I jealous? Of course I was!!
I did get his autograph again and Billy sang several songs with the Tornadoes. I got their autographs too. We still have the cake board and some wonderful memories.
In May 1963 Sue and I went to see Billy at Portsmouth Guildhall. The place was packed and during a break between songs I rushed up to the stage and presented Billy with a teddy bear that I had made during a long spell in hospital.
He thanked me and placed the teddy on the piano saying "You sit there and don't move" and there it sat for the rest of the show.
I was in seventh heaven! During this show he sang Nobody's Child sitting on a stool in a spotlight. You could hear a pin drop. I was in tears. Next day I bought the record.
I saw Billy several times in concert and he was brilliant every time.
I saw him in his MG, number plate 100 AD, in London from the back of a bus. I waved like mad, and he smiled back.
Then he overtook the bus and I ran down to the front and the driver told me to sit down! I saw Billy disappear round a corner.
Like Billy I have a great love of animals. I was manager of a charity shop for the Cats Protectin League for 5 years, although I have recently retired from that but I still work in the shop.
I have two rescue cats of my own Ebony and Sable.
I now belong to The Sound of Fury and In Thoughts of You and in April went to New Brighton and Liverpool to celebrate Billy's 65th birthday, and met his mum Jean and Brother Albie.
Albie put on a wonderful tribute concert singing most of Billy's songs. He has a beautiful voice. What a weekend that was!! I will NEVER forget Billy Fury. I still love him.
I am a fan for life.
My friend Mike Manges, in Akron, Ohio, who is a major Billy Fury fan, despite being (1) American, and (2) in his early thirties.
Mike loves 50s R'n'R, and he has met numerous Brits into the 50s.
They introduced him to Billy Fury's work, and he loves it. So, in 2005, there's someone in Akron, Ohio, playing and loving Billy's recordings.
Okay, onto the story. Back in the late 1990s, I worked with a guy in his mid-50s who knew I liked 1950s rock 'n' roll.
One day we were chatting, and he asked if I had ever heard of Billy Fury.
I said of course, and named several of Billy's songs.
My colleague said that he had a friend who had been a kid in the early 1960s, who had lived in Surrey (I think) near to where Billy Fury lived at the time.
One day, this lad and his friends were sailing their toy boats on a pond.
Along came Billy Fury.
He stopped and chatted with the boys, asking them what they were doing.
He looked at their boats, and said: "I've got a boat."
He went back to his house, and returned with a model yacht.
He put it in the pond, and sailed it with the boys, chatting quite casually, as if he did that kind of thing every day.
Then he looked at his watch and said he had to go.
"What about your boat?" said one of the lads.
"Don't worry," said Billy. "You keep it".
The lad who kept it was the friend of my workmate.
My workmate said the guy became a real Billy Fury nut after that episode, because Billy was such a nice, down-to-earth guy.
And yes, the lad still has the model yacht, which is his prize possession.
I know this isn't much of an anecdote, but I have told it to lots of people, because I feel it shows what Billy was like.
Many thanks for all the work you do to keep Billy's memory and music alive.