All photographs (except where indicated) by Terry Lott
I couldn't tell it better than Uncut's Allan Jones, guest at my launch party to celebrate the publication of 'Ian Dury: The Definitive Biography' (Sidgwick and Jackson). Here is what Allan wrote in his Uncut blog:
"You won't often find me quaffing swanky red wine at posh West End watering-holes like the Groucho Club. So thanks to author Will Birch for inviting me last week to the launch party for his terrific new book, Ian Dury: The Definitive Biography, which I'm happy to say more than lives up to its title.
"As I kind of expected, there were a lot of familiar faces at the bash, more than a few of them in some way connected, way back, with Dury, whose legendary irascibility seemed to be a hot topic of conversation between them, and most of them with a story about falling out at some point with him. Among them: Rod Melvin, Ian's song-writing partner in the later line-ups of Kilburn and The High Roads (they co-wrote "What A Waste", later recorded by Ian with The Blockheads). Rod rather sportingly turned up to provide a classy turn on piano as the other guests mingled and reminisced.
Mr Rod Melvin at the pianoforte
"Also there: artist Humphrey Ocean, who played bass, after a fashion, in the early Kilburns, Chaz Jankel, who co-wrote most of the great Blockheads' songs, photographer Chris Gabrin, who shot the cover of New Boots And Panties!! and Fred 'Spider' Rowe, who for years was Dury's unofficial 'minder'.
"Spider's strangely missing from the new Dury biopic, sex and drugs and rock and roll, but he and Dury were for a long time inseparable. Like a lot of people who were close to Dury before his success with The Blockheads - and then the quick vanishing of it - turned him into something of a monster, Spider eventually fell foul of Ian's notorious temper and walked out on him after a massive row.
Paul Bradshaw and Fred 'Spider' Rowe
"Nick Lowe was there, too, looking extremely dapper, glass in hand, and in the kind of conversation it would have been nigh on impossible to imagine having with him in his hell-raising heyday 30 years ago, when I was more often in his company, he was very amusing about the joys of late fatherhood. "I take him to school," he said touchingly of his son, now five, and running a hand through a shock of white hair, "and people think I'm his grandfather. The good thing, though, about having a kid at my advanced age is that when he turns into a troublesome teenager, I'll be too senile to care."
Peta Waddington, Nick Lowe and Will Birch
"Former Stiff supremo Dave Robinson hove into view about this point, still hilariously grumpy about some of the records he'd had to listen to as one of the judges of last year's Uncut Music Award. "I thought Jake would be here," he said, referring to his former partner at Stiff, the volatile Jake Riviera. "But I couldn't hear any shouting when I was coming up the stairs so he obviously couldn't make it."
Chaz Jankel, Humphrey Ocean and Dave Robinson
"Will then made a typically witty speech, thanking everyone who contributed to the book, his publishers, his agent, his editor at Sidgwick and Jackson, and Sir Peter Blake who designed the splendid jacket for his book. "Finally," Will said, "I'd like to thank the subject of the book, who for obvious reasons can't be here tonight. . ." "Thank God for that!" Humphrey Ocean [actually Fred Rowe!] then blurted out, to an initially stunned silence and, very quickly, much loud guffawing and a round of applause. All the best, for now."
Nick Lowe and Allan Jones
This blog wouldn't be complete without a few more photographs of various revellers (and apologies to those I have omitted, for now). It was a very enjoyable soiree and thank you to the staff at the Groucho.
Will with Ingrid Connell, his editor at Sidgwick and Jackson
Mal Young, Chaz Jankel and Mari Wilson
Will Birch and Tracey MacLeod
Caz Facey, Will Birch, Paul Gorman and Jenny Ross
Will Birch and Mari Wilson
Will Birch and Mike McEvoy
The old bugger, photograph Kees Bakker