My dad the rock star: daughter Jemima on Upminster Kid Ian Dury
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“Upminster Kid” Ian Dury’s musical legacy lives on in a new book written by his daughter Jemima, who spoke to Ian Weinfass
”It was very much a compulsion to do it, I felt like I had to, partly to preserve the writing and partly as a personal journey to go on for me to find out about him,” said 44-year-old Jemima Dury.
As well as containing so much of her father Ian Dury’s brilliant poetic lyrics, making the collection was made more personal for her because the Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick singer’s career began to take off in the late 1960s – just after she was born.
“He wasn’t there all the time, he was almost like a mythical figure,” she said.
“Having him as a father was pretty mixed. I would say it was very exciting, he was a great presence at home even if he wasn’t there very much.”
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Years in the making, the book contains early drafts, photos and other insights into the life and work of the leader of the Blockheads.
Dury’s legacy endures – with his controversial 1981 hit Spasticus (Autisticus) given a starring role in the Paralympic Opening Ceremony last year.
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Lyrics like “I dribble when I nibble and I quibble when I scribble” saw the song banned from radio at the time.
Left disabled after a bout of polio as a child, the singer walked with a stick and wore a calliper on his leg throughout the rest of his life.
Jemima said: “I think he would have absolutely loved that his song was played at the Paralympics. It was such a massive event and it wouldn’t have been played at the time it was written.
“He was being controversial to get a bit of a reaction. It was a bit crass, but I think he would have been moved and touched that he was perceived to be a spokesperson for other people in that situation.”
She added: “He didn’t really talk about being disabled that much, but he would get angry if a taxi driver didn’t make allowances for him.
“I remember times when he would be slowly getting out of a car and people would beep at it from behind until they realised he was disabled.
“On a practical level there were times when you would have to help him get his calliper on, it was just a normal part of life.”
When he died from cancer aged 57 in 2000, Jemima said the idea to compile a collection of her father’s lyrics came to her straight away but she did not complete the project for 12 years.
“I had a book deal about six months after he died, and I started to put the material together from listening to his CDs, but I didn’t know what material there was in storage.
“When I went into the storage unit where he had all his stuff, it was full of boxes and boxes of paper, including drafts of lyrics, receipts, old ticket stubs, I thought it was amazing.”
As a child, Ian Dury moved to Cranham with his mother and sister, a move which his daughter feels helped define his image. One of his records was called Lord Upminster.
“There was something very grounding with him being from London, it gave him an identity, and he also had his Teddy Boy obsession.
“I think that was a good way he found of taking the edge off being so incredibly bright, it stopped him being a bit geeky.
“He had the street cred of saying he was from Upminster. It was important for him to be of the people.”
Hallo Sausages: The Lyrics of Ian Dury is out now through Bloomsbury.