Monday, 1 August 2011

Ian’s Old Muckers #2: Chaz Jankel

“From my perspective, being quite candid about the latter days of Ian Dury and the Kilburns, it had run its course. Ian was tired. It had gone as far as it could go. We were one of the top pub acts but it needed to go to another level. I felt that the band could only take Ian so far artistically. Ian used to write a lot with the keyboard players. I was a keyboard player as well as a guitar player and I was actually looking for a lyricist, but I got a whole lot more - I got Ian Dury - an amazing character. It was natural for me to want to write with Ian. We talked about the idea of backing off playing live and writing an album. He was in his flat near the Oval and I used to go there with my Wurlitzer piano and a guitar and write songs.”

“The very first lyrics were Tell The Children and Sex And Drugs. Wake Up was in the second wave, it got us started on ‘New Boots’. Ian’s flat was amazing. He had a fairly frisky relationship with Denise, [they were] both very spirited, and they didn’t always see eye to eye. There was a very delicate dance of wills taking place. Denise was very gregarious.”

“A lot of Ian’s girlfriends had a boyish look to them, slim and petite. A girl named Zegnia accompanied him around Italy. We used to smile and say hello but I never had an in-depth conversations with any of them. They kept themselves to themselves. She didn’t party with the rest of us. They were an item and would go off to a room somewhere. Ian always needed someone to help him. A girl called Belinda appeared later on, who used to drive Ian nuts, once again quite petite, whimsical, pretty but unpredictable.”

“Ian knew he was immediately recognisable, he couldn’t run away. He didn’t like the vulnerability of fame; at Notting Hill Carnival, Smart Mart and Blake picked him up, one under each elbow and rescued him. He would want a minder with him when he went out. I think there was a disagreement with Fred with regard to the use of ‘restraint’, although Ian would often incite Fred and Fred would end up having to defend Ian. Ian felt strengthened by Fred’s involvement.”

“Ian’s perfect idea of an evening would be a bottle of Moet, champagne cocktails and have Ed Speight sitting next to him, in his little room in Hampstead rolling spliffs and telling jokes. Ed was a bright man with a sarcastic sense of humour. That’s when a lot of his lyrics would come about, quips and couplets on his sketch pad. The ultimate relaxation for Ian, strangely, sadly enough, was when he was diagnosed with cancer. The chemo was knocking the wind out of his sails but it gave him a certain humility, it took the anger out of him and at times it was quite welcome.”

“He’s left an amazing legacy. The Blockheads wouldn’t be together, the spirit hasn’t died. Physically we won’t get any more songs from Ian Dury. Most people of our generation know who he was and are inspired by that bravado. It’s synonymous with the late 70s. He characterised that age for me.”

As told to Will Birch, July 2004. Photograph: Chaz by Terry Lott. Drawing of Chaz by Ian Dury.

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