FOUND ANOTHER GERRY SHURY'
- the late genius of British soul
Biddu's stuff survives for a number of reasons. It was recorded
very well, because Richard Dodd was a fantastic engineer. The
songs were fairly good, but it was played excellently by great
musicians. And it was well arranged by people like Gerry Shurey.
For Biddu, his key man on the musical front was Gerry Shury and
on the technical front was myself.
He was a smashing bloke, Gerry. He was a brilliant musician.
Biddu could find the pieces, but he couldn't make the jigsaw,
the whole picture. And that's where Gerry came in.
Biddu had his sights set and he knew exactly what he wanted to
do. The Biddu Orchestra did a beautiful record of 'Summer of 42',
but it was Gerry's arrangement, Gerry and Biddu produced that
together. But it takes someone like Biddu to take control: someone's
got to be in the chair. Gerry could have done that himself - he
had the opportunity - but there's no sour grapes. Biddu was successful
because he got it right.
At the time, of course, Biddu was desperate to claim a lot of
responsibility because he wanted to further his own individual
artistic credit. Gerry seemed to me to have no desire to be the
front-man, and Biddu had every ounce of desire to be the front-man.
Gerry was just happy to be involved in the music. He was like
Winnie-the-Pooh - cuddly, you know.
Biddu realized straightaway what everyone saw in Gerry: this guy
can make these things work.
Gerry was a very special person. He used to get the best out of
everybody, but in such a subtle way. If the string section had
played something wrong, instead of saying, 'You were wrong, could
you do it again,' he'd say: 'We've got a bit of a mike fault,
do you mind doing that again?'
Gerry and I did a song called 'Funk Theory', which got in the
bottom part of the charts for Rokotto, who were signed to Wayne
[Bickerton]. Gerry went down to a club in Brighton to see them
the night after the session, knowing that that night he had to
do three arrangements for a session the next day back in town.
Driving back from the club, he fell asleep at the wheel and his
car went off the road. Killed him instantly. And he had done those
three arrangements. He'd stayed up extra-time to do them.
Gerry Shury was a wonderful human being - a very talented man
and a tragic loss. I was actually in bed with pneumonia and, despite
what the doctor said, I got out of bed and went to the funeral,
because he was such a great guy.
When I went to his funeral, there must have been about a thousand
people there. This gravedigger said, 'Who was he, mate, some kind
of pop star?'
I think the creative source behind it, when Gerry died, it went.
It just went. It didn't go downhill, it just got totally blown
out of the water. Because Gerry was so creative. For me, Biddu
may have had ideas, but Gerry was the man who made them work.
Biddu might have been able to write a few things, but he had to
have someone put it together for him. When he lost Gerry, it fell
That's when it all fell apart for Biddu and me really, was when
Gerry Shury died, because it's okay to produce something but you
have to have something there to produce, and what Gerry did was
write the most beautiful arrangements. And after he died, I think
he was left a bit: well, who do I use? We never found another
Gerry died when he was 32. I feel confident that if he was still
around, he'd probably be massive.
these words were brought to you by
see also 'Blue Eyed Soul' from Black Music magazine