By Paddy Shennan
A treasure trove of unreleased Billy Fury songs has been discovered tucked away in the loft of the house the late Liverpool superstar bought for his parents nearly 40 years ago... thanks to his mum deciding to replace the central heating!
Billy Fury - born Ronald Wycherley 60 years ago this April - died in 1983, leaving a legacy of hit records, including Halfway To Paradise, In Thoughts Of You and Wondrous Place, the latter being the name given to the family home in Mossley Hill. And now a new album - Wondrous Place - is in the shops, after mum, Jean, who is 79 today, found a box which included a 78 and two reel-to-reel tapes.
Jean explains: "A lot of work is being done on the house and I had to bring down a load of boxes from the loft when the workmen went up to sort out the centre heating. "They must have been boxes we brought over from the previous house which were just left there and forgotten about. I started going through them and that's when I found the tapes and the 78.
"Myself and Billy's brother, Albie, played them and realised we were hearing things we had never heard before. It was quite something to hear Billy talking, as he introduced each song on the tape before playing it. The album includes seven rare demos from the tapes - which Albie believes could have been recorded between 1958 and 1960 - and two "ultra rare" demos transferred from a one-off 78 Billy recorded "straight to disc," which could date back as far as 1956, when the singer would have been just 16. In addition, there are eight previously unreleased live tracks. from a tape of a concert recorded in London in 1974, which was handed to the Wycherleys by a fan. The CD also comes with a 12-page colour booklet which includes previously unpublished photographs of Billy from his mum's personal collection. And yet it could so easily have failed to ever see the light of day.
"I'm just glad I decided to have the central heating replaced!" jokes Jean.
"Billy Fury - Wondrous Place" (Ozit/Morpheus Records) is now in the shops.