Billy Connolly

Billy Connolly

Date of birth: 24-11-1942

Born in a poor tenement block, Connolly was abandoned by his mother, Mamie, at the age of three and brought up by his aunt, Mona, who used to beat him, and his father, William, who sexually abused him - a background explored in his 2001 biography Billy.

As a teenager, he joined the Clyde shipyards, where he served his apprenticeship as a welder. While working there, he bought a banjo for £2 10s after seeing blues singer Pete Seger on the TV, and started performing on Scotland's folk circuit as part of a band called the Humblebums, which counted Gerry Rafferty among its members.

While performing, Connolly noticed that audiences warmed to the banter between his songs, which built up his confidence. In 1970, the band split up and he started performing solo.

Also during his time at the shipyards, he met his first wife, Iris, with whom he had a son and a daughter.

His big break was on the Parkinson show in 1975, which made him a star and led to his first UK tour: The Big Wee Tour.

He spent many years on the road, the lifestyle taking its toll, and he became a heavy drinker, until he gave up alcohol in 1986.

His reputation grew and grew, and he eventually moved to California to try to break into the US, with varying degrees of success.

In 1989, he married Pamela Stephenson, who he met while recording a sketch for Not The Nine O'Clock News.

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Could we soon be flying into Billy Connolly?

Bid to rename Glasgow Airport after comic

comedyMore than 2,500 have signed a petition to rename Glasgow Airport in honour of Sir Billy Connolly.

Fans want his hometown to follow in the example of  Liverpool, which named its airport after John Lennon, and Belfast, which remembers George Best.

Brian Paul, who started the petition on change.org argues that the comic should ‘honoured before it’s too late for him to recognise and remember how proud our city is of him’.

He described Connolly as an ‘all-time Scottish legend who deserves to be recognised’, adding: ‘Who wouldn’t want to fly into "The Big Yin"?’

Many of those signing the petition said The Big Yin should be celebrated before he died rather than after.

In the recent BBC documentary series Made In Scotland, the 76-year-old star told viewers ‘my life is slipping away’ because of his Parkinson’s disease.

But after the broadcast he reassured fans he wasn’t dying, telling fans: ‘Sorry if I depressed you. Maybe I should have phrased it better.’

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Published: 11 Jan 2019

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