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Monday, 27 March, 2000, 21:01 GMT 22:01 UK
Rock star Ian Dury dies
Ian Dury and child
Dury on a UNICEF charity trip to Zambia in 1997
Rock singer and charity campaigner Ian Dury has died after a long battle with cancer, aged 57.

Dury, who made his name fronting the Blockheads in the late 70s, had a tumour on his colon removed, but by January 1998 it had spread to his liver.

His agent said he had died on Monday, but it has not been disclosed whether he was at home or in hospital.

HAVE YOUR SAY Dury had spoken publicly about his battle with cancer, insisting he had no fear of death and campaigning with charities to raise money for research and care.

He also campaigned to eradicate polio, having been left disabled by the disease himself.

The charity Unicef, with which he worked, paid tribute to his "legendary" commitment.

There is only one word which describes Ian Dury - awesome

Unicef spokeswoman
"Despite increasingly poor health and his own disability, Ian embarked on gruelling schedules in the field and carried out endless interviews to communicate what he'd seen," said Unicef spokeswoman Jo Bexley.

"For those of us lucky enough to have seen him in action, there is only one word which describes Ian Dury - awesome."

Dury was seen as one of the unlikeliest music heroes of his generation, breaking the mould of the way rock stars looked and sounded.

His biggest chart hits were What a Waste, Reasons to be Cheerful and Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, which went straight to number one and made his band a commercial success.

Suggs, from Madness, on whose latest album Dury featured, described him as one of the finest lyricists ever.
Ian Dury
Dury spoke publicly about his illness
"Ian really was the reason Madness started. He was still giving us his all right till the end - he will be dearly missed."

Pianist Jools Holland said: "I was made an honorary Blockhead which is one of the proudest accolades of my career. He should be posthumously made our poet laureate."

Radio 1 DJ Annie Nightingale described the father-of-four as "the most cheerful genius I have ever met".

And to Radio 2 DJ Johnnie Walker he was "a real genuine bloke."

Dury contracted polio when he was seven years old, possibly during a school swimming trip to Southend. The illness left him with disabilities in one arm and leg.

Playing part time with the little-known Kilburn and the High Roads he toured the London pub circuit.

But it was with the Blockheads, signed to Stiff Records, that Ian Dury became nationally known, delivering his wry lyrics in a semi-spoken slang.

The band's debut album, "New Boots and Panties", spent nearly two years in the UK charts and, at the beginning of 1979, they had a number one hit with a song co-written by Dury.

Charlie Gillett, manager of Kilburn and the High Roads, said: "He was a survivor and a pioneer and probably a lot better than he ever thought he was."

And Blur singer Damon Albarn described Dury as "the man".

"He was the first person who really got me going as far as lyrics were concerned," Albarn told Radio 4's Front Row programme.

Television plays

As his musical career began to flag in the late 80s, Dury switched his attention to writing music, acting and his first love, painting.

He appeared in several television plays and films and a musical, called "Apples", played in London.

He returned to music in 1998, reuniting some of the Blockheads for a new album. He was still giving stage performances despite his illness, and had more concerts planned later this year.

Dury's first wife, with whom he had two children, died of cancer, and he married Sophie Tilson, the mother of his youngest two children, after learning that his own cancer had spread.

He is survived by his second wife, grown-up daughter and son Jemima and Baxter and young sons Albert and Bill.

On Saturday, BBC Radio 2 will pay tribute to Dury by repeating a broadcast of his concert at The Forum in London in October 1998 at 2030 BST (1930 GMT). It will also be broadcast on Radio 2's website.

Let us know your memories of Ian Dury.

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The BBC's John McIntyre
"Dury was an ardent campaigner for charity"
See also:

27 Mar 00 | Talking Point
Your memories of Ian Dury
27 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Dury's reasons to be cheerful
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