Sound of Fury and Harmonies From Heaven
British rock and roll was a pale imitation of its US counterpart and weak attempts to copy the likes of Elvis, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis were well represented on the programme, with some good early film footage of the originals in their prime. There were some interesting contributions from his mother and brother, Vince Eager, Clem Cattini, Joe Brown, Ray Connolly, Alvin Stardust, John Leyton and Amanda Barrie. There was also clips of interviews with Billy himself, Parnes and Adam Faith. But the film clips of Billy in action were disappointing. Those of us who were around at the time know that his stage act was exciting, considered lewd by some, but here was Billy singing a virtually static rendition of I'd Never Find Another You and a couple of standards. Is there no other original footage left?
Billy was a chain smoker - in fact just about everyone on film from the era had a ciggie in hand - and was passionate about animals, But he seems to have been quite a shy and withdrawn individual. There was little in the programme that was terribly revealing, although Vince Eager's contribution, including visits to the site of the 2Is and the Freight Train club in Soho, was telling. Billy died in 1983 aged just 42. His early success was over shadowed by his more successful near neighbours the Beatles and he never had any success in the States, unlike the Tornados, with whom he recorded a live LP. But compared with other British rock and rollers Billy was in a different league, and his first LP is one of the very best there is.
The Everly Brothers reached the pinnacle of their craft, combining rock and roll and country in a way which very few if any others did. I saw them top the bill in 1963 with Bo Diddley and a new band called, I seem to recall, the Rolling Stones low down on the bill, and in my personal top ten, from 1960 to 1965, they had more chart entries than any other act. A truly great act, and an interesting, if slightly disappointing programme.