Bruce Baker-Johnson reports:

I arrived at a water-sodden campsite on the Wirral just after 3pm on

The ride over on the Honda was quite pleasant with only a few
isolated spots of rain and some nasty crosswinds to contend with.

With the tent up, I went off to spy out the lie of the land at an almost
deserted New Brighton.

I parked directly outside the Floral Pavilion and listened to the rehearsals going on as I got out of my biker gear and stashed it in the top box – time for refreshment – sausage, chips and beans opposite the Fort Perch Rock, scene for tomorrows celebrations.

Back to the Pavilion and its foyer devoid of seats and a ladies' toilet –
which caused a few comments before the auditorium opened.

Waiting here I was spotted by Marie and Dee and others I’d met only via the website. And so to the show.

The "dreaded" opening spot was ably utilised by Steve Cutlass and his
Buccaneers performing a tribute to that brilliant and underrated rock
band of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates.

If Billy Fury was the best solo rocker of the period then Johnny and the Pirates were to me the outstanding band.

While Steve did his best with the Johnny role and impressed with a little guitar spot the real attraction for me was the spot-on "mirror" bass/lead guitar effect that I never heard from another group since Johnny’s sad demise.

This was no doubt in no small part due to the presence in the group of the original bassist from the Pirates.

For me a great start to an evening of memories.

The second spot was a tight and polished set from Mike Berry and the
Outlaws as usual.

I can’t believe that Mike looks exactly the same as he did over 30 years ago. The memories came tumbling back with tributes to my all time "great" Buddy Holly and the equally and wonderful "real" singer Roy Orbison.

Mike brought a tear to the eye relating the tale of a message he once got at a concert regarding his 1980s hit Sunshine Of Your Smile. The tale related to a man who had a perpetual stammer that disappeared when he sang – this song was his favourite and became the family's and in particular a little lad who was always singing it as well.

Unfortunately, the child subsequently died and the request was for a dedication.

Mike's surprise final tribute was to the late great Lonnie Donegan who
really did so much for the then British youth music scene in the mid-50s especially.

In the Interval I met the lovely Cathy, who has given me a lot of encouragement with her messages (as indeed has Moya in NZ - shame you were not here Moya) – I was thrown because I was used to seeing a photo of a
redhead (I was one of those once) – glad I wasn’t the only one thrown.

Cathy introduced me then to Mags and Sophie and that was it – I only
just got back to my seat in time for Jason Eddie’s start.

I don’t think it’s an overstatement to call Jason’s set a tour de force – 28 songs tells that part of the story but the whole presentation was superb with a full string and brass section, the Persuaders' more conventional backing, two superbly turned out girl singers and Ray Shenton looking like Dickie Valentine (what do you mean "who"?).

The music the atmosphere and everything were spot on. Not having seen
Jason before I think I was expecting a straightforward tribute, but I’m glad to say that Jason made the concert his own. True the songs and the arrangements were pure Billy but it was so much more.

Others can put this more eloquently I’m sure.

There were of course many dedications among the memories, including two
to Jason and Billy’s mum Jean, who made a brief appearance on stage, and
one to Moya (I Will) in New Zealand – I hope you got that “through the
ether” as I promised Moya.

Another really nice touch came when young Sophie was lifted onto the stage to share the spotlight with Jason after her 9th birthday on Friday.

A standing ovation was never more deserved. Thanks Jason.

I always have problems sleeping in a strange bed on a first night and
this was no exception. There was constant traffic noise and boy did it
get cold.

There was ice on the tent and the Honda! Anyway Sunday dawned
with bright sunshine (still cold) so I packed quickly and went off to
McDonalds for breakfast.

I’d laminated some very bad copies of a couple of my computer/pencil/charcoal doodle of Billy and I fastened these onto the Honda and headed off to the "fort" for the biker run tribute for Billy.

Things started very quietly at Fort Perch Rock, one of the Napoleonic War

Dave Chevron entertained us for an hour with Billy’s songs and dazzled us with his gold lame suit. He related how his new wife had chosen her favourite Billy tracks to be played at the wedding, including of course Once Upon A Dream.

Spencer Leigh – another of those who does not look anything like old
enough to have been around in the 60s - really brought out the best in
his interviews with Clem Cattini and Dave Sampson, reminiscing about the
Larry Parnes era.

One snippet was the way he handed out names to his artistes – like Fury, Eager and Pride.

Obviously the high spot for many was when Spencer spoke to Jean and Albie. Half way through that spot came the noise of Harley Davidson motor cycles
arriving for the run to the Museum of Liverpool Life and Billy’s statue.

I’d begun to think I was going to have to do the whole thing on my own
since an hour before my Honda was alone on the ramp.

Unfortunately the noise also must have upset the rain god, because he
decided it was time to water the flowers again and boy did he?

The wind blew across the Mersey with a vengeance and the rain stung but it was worth every minute.

For about 20 precious minutes Harley motorcycles blocked road junctions, traffic islands and traffic lights, clearing the way for the convoy with a 50s Chevy limo, Albie and his mum in a Roller and lots of bikers braving the conditions to show their respects for Liverpool and Britain’s greatest rock 'n' roll singer.

I was really glad to have been one tiny part of that.

A TV unit covered proceedings from the fort to the statue and there were
dozens at the museum and statue despite the awful conditions.

Billy had been spring cleaned for the day and framed with lots of bouquets.

Inside the museum Jean was presented with the first Billy Fury rose,
which will be available to all in the autumn.

Since my gardening triumphs run to only weeds and roses I’ll be placing an order.

Albie said he and Jean are supporting the setting up of an entirely new fan club to be based in Liverpool and said they no longer support the present set up.

Thanks Albie, Jean, Billy, and all of you, the fans. It’s an honour to know you.