Billy Connolly: Night I hit a photographer and The Herald caught me


What Happens on the Tour Staying on the tour was the performer’s motto from Sinatra to the Rolling Stones. But not for Billy Connolly, who lifts some lids of his desolate era in a new television series starting tomorrow.

Scottish comedians toured with performances such as Elton John, Elvis Costello and Led Zeppelin. But his most outspoken revelation in the seven-part Billy Connolly … approaches home.

Sir Billy, 79, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, moved to the Florida Keys in 2018 with his wife, Pamela Stevenson, and his family. The night he saw Gerry Rafferty control the SNP campaign car. And too short a friendship with Keith Moon, who lost the comedian.

Although welcomed as a national treasure today, the relationship between Connolly and the media was not always very friendly. Riley reminds him of “your amazing photo of hitting a member of the paparazzi”.

The photo is from the Herald archive and shows Connolly holding the photographer Stuart Bell outside the Durley Lane Theater in London in September 1981.

“You are giving him the right old bang,” says the filmmaker.

“I hit some of them,” says Connolly. “I was in the midst of a divorce, my child and wife were in Scotland, and I was with Pam in London. I criticized him because it was impossible to stay sane after being chased by the paparazzi.

“It’s always a big mistake to hit them. They love it. When you’re hitting one, the rest of them take pictures of you doing it. You can’t win.”

At his stage show, Connolly once described the fight with the photographer: Once they start sharing money, I stop hitting them. ”

Happier memories come from the early days of the tour with Gerry Rafferty, who founded The Humblebums with Connolly.

One night, The Humblebums played Gourock. Booker was “Kilty,” Connolly says, “a great proponent of the Scottish National Party.” He drove them home early on. When they arrived just outside John Stone, Rafferty noticed the car’s loud caller and turned on the microphone.

“People of Johnston,” Rafferty announced. “You have a big problem tonight. A truck with a lot of snakes and venomous snakes crashed just outside John Stone. I finally heard they were heading to John Stone.

“Leave the house and gather on the steps of the city hall. The old man can ride on your shoulders. Don’t worry about your valuables. We’ll deliver them later.”

“Jerry screamed,” says Connolly. “He put me on the floor, on my hands and knees. Whenever everyone saw Jerry, he was honest and playing these beautiful songs. He composed. Great melody. They never thought he could do this. ”

In the first episode entitled “Bad Behavior,” Connolly recalls a night out with actors John Hurt and Keith Moon. He met Who Drummer for the first time that night.

“He was very funny and talkative and I thought. What a good new friend I made.” I got up in the morning, flew to Australia, arrived in a hotel room, turned on the TV, and he Died. I absolutely hurt my heart.

“I only knew him for a few hours, but I was devastated because I was really looking forward to welcoming him as a friend and looking to the future with him.”

The end of the hard drink tour came when he met Pamela. “Marriage with Pam, it didn’t change me, it saved me,” he says. “I thought I might lose my wilderness, and then I thought,’Well, it’s not a wilderness. It’s a wilderness pretending.” You know how to turn it on. , And it doesn’t disappear. And it didn’t disappear. ”

Billy Connolly … Thursday, 9 pm, Gold


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