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"I feel very lucky, almost as if I've had a blessed life."
—Ian Dury
SEX & DRUGS & R.I.P.
Ian Dury Succumbs To Cancer
To quote his first label's old marketing slogan, "If it ain't Stiff, it ain't worth a f**k." Even in death, Ian Dury is a heroic figure in rock.

The British performer, whose thick Cockney accent and peg-leg walk--the latter from a childhood bout of polio--made him one of the more unusual characters out of the British new wave invasion, died after a lengthy battle with cancer at the age of 57.

Dury and his group The Blockheads scored a series of Top Ten U.K. singles with "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick," "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll" and "Reasons To Be Cheerful (Part 3)," though the group was never able to duplicate that success in the States.

After graduating from the Royal College of Art and lecturing on painting at Canterbury College of Art, Dury formed the '50s rock/be-bop jazz group Kilburn & the High Roads, who became a success on the British pub circuit. After the group disbanded, Dury signed with legendary U.K. indie label, Stiff Records, where he joined the likes of Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello. His first album, "New Boots & Panties!!," stayed on the U.K. charts for two years and went on to sell a million copies worldwide, with Arista picking up distribution for the U.S.

Although he never duplicated that success in America, Dury remained a superstar in his native Britain, landing acting roles in Roman Polanski's "Pirates" and Peter Greenaway's "The Cook The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover."

In May '98, Dury revealed he had been diagnosed with colon cancer, which had spread to his liver. His first wife, Betty, also succumbed to cancer; he then married Sophy, the mother of his two younger children, after receiving word his health had deteriorated. He released a new album, "Mr. Love Pants," and performed at the London Palladium earlier this month.

"I don't care if I'm immediately forgotten. I don't care if my work goes down the tubes. I feel very lucky, almost as if I've had a blessed life," he told the BBC last September. "I only get upset about it when I think of my kids and I think I might not be able to see them grow up."

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