Billy Connolly Biography

24 November 1942, Anderston, Glasgow, Scotland. Connolly left school for a variety of contrasting occupations, including welder on the Glasgow docks, before joining Tam Harvey in the Scottish folk act the Humblebums. The duo completed one album before Harvey was replaced by Gerry Rafferty in 1969. Although the new combination was responsible for two critically-acclaimed selections, the contrast between Connolly’s lighter, whimsical songs and Rafferty’s studious pop became too great to hold within one unit. While the latter formed Stealers Wheel, his ex-partner returned to the folk circuit as a solo performer. Connolly’s repertoire was initially music-based, but between-songs banter quickly became the focal point until his act comprised often ribald monologues. Solo Concert, which included ‘The Crucifixion’ and ‘Glasgow Accents’, established his irreverent humour before a highly successful appearance on BBC television’s Michael Parkinson Show transformed his career from parochial to international fame. Further albums, including Cop Yer Whack For This and Raw Meat For The Balcony!, suggested the flavour of Connolly’s work without fully capturing its infectiousness, and although ‘D.I.V.O.R.C.E’, a parody of the Tammy Wynette hit, topped the UK singles chart, his talent requires an in-person setting to truly flourish. His humour retains the knack of capturing the Scottish and particularly Glaswegian psyche without condescension, although he is prone to laugh before the punch line, thereby encouraging the audience to laugh, whatever the outcome. Now fêted by royalty, Connolly has become an established figure in UK and USA entertainment and has pursued a successful film career as a character actor, earning particular acclaim for his leading roles in Mrs. Brown (1997) and The Debt Collector (1999).

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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