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Hal Carter's memories

Initially Billy's road manager, Hal worked with him on and off for 24 years. These words were read out at a memorial service at Liverpool Cathedral.

I first met Billy Fury in 1958.

Then in 1959, I joined him as his tour manager, and so started an initial five year relationship that was to continue on and off until his untimely death in 1983.

I doubt if many people know Billy as well as I.

Billy could be a complex character. Off stage and socially he could be a shy recluse, unsure of himself and at times untrusting of everybody. He was a lover of wildlife and all kinds of animals.

But on stage!

On stage Billy Fury was a master at his craft, and entertaining is a craft, and Billy moved and sang with the greatest.

Over 31 years I've met and worked with the greatest, but in my mind, and in my heart, Billy was unequalled in Great Britain.

In America, maybe there were two or three rock 'n' roll singers who trod the same path as Billy. Obviously Elvis, probably Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly...but in Great Britain Billy Fury could walk as tall as the best of them.

Billy left me his photograph album, an album that today is a record of our time together on the road.

At times, I look at it and recall those hazy days which were as exciting as anything you could ever imagine.

They are a record of an era when Billy and Marty Wilde, Joe Brown, Dickie Pride and Cliff, and oh so many other great guys, were spearheading a whole new career for a whole new generation of youngsters.

We had a devil-may-care attitude. The country was still recovering from the aftermath of the war, and attitudes and ideals were changing fast - some of it for the good, some for the worst.

We took our work seriously, and we worked hard. We travelled long distances, and when we'd done our job we played hard....we enjoyed life.

Today it's common for any number of young men and women to one day be out of work, the next be acclaimed a pop music sensation. You can't open a newspaper today without seeing some bright new face grinning at you, announcing a chart-topping record, or jetting off for a holiday in some sundrenched haven of rest.

Billy Fury and his peers helped create that lucrative area of

the entertainment business they instigated the British pop music scene. T they cut the key that opened the door to stardom for a whole bunch of young singers and musicians, something which gave hope of riches and fame, where previously it would've been out of reach to a young boy or girl from a working class background.

Sadly, what they did has been forgotten, or simply taken for granted, certainly never acknowledged as it should've been.

British pop music owes a great debt to Billy Fury, Marty Wilde, Joe Brown and many other tremendous British rock 'n' roll stars of the late fifties. They hung in and got the job done, and it wasn't easy, and it wasn't just for the money I can assure you, as the money then wasn't anywhere near what it is today.

They created a career for themselves, and later created an area of employment for an ongoing crop of youngsters to follow in their footsteps. Their job creation was certainly as good as any job centre.

And when the hit records dried up, as they did for the vast majority of those guys, they found they had created an ongoing career and demand for themselves.

They were the fore-runners of a whole new breed of music business entrepreneurs; they weren't just pop singers, they were showmen of the Barnum class, they were true entertainers, and they were loved and worshipped by thousands.

The youth of today, who spend so much time listening to pop music, probably can't even recall the name Billy Fury, and it's sad when you think that someone who was so talented, and who had that very special asset called charisma, had to die so young and relatively so un-noticed.

We are here today to remember him, and who of us who ever knew him could ever forget him?

Billy Fury's memory is etched into my mind and my soul. To me his memory will never die. I cherish the good times we had together and I accept that there had to be the odd bad times.

Billy Fury was my friend, and I loved him dearly, and I still miss him.

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Text kindly supplied by Clare Mehmet-Nugent