Ian Dury dies of cancer

Musician Ian Dury today lost his long battle against cancer, his agents said.

Dury, 57, who is best remembered for his song Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, had suffered from cancer of the liver. He died this morning.

Despite his illness, Dury continued to work, helping children's aid organisations and appearing in television advertisements.

His agents confirmed that the musician died from cancer but were unable to say where or at exactly what time.

"We will have more details later this afternoon," a spokesman said.

As well as writing a string of hit songs, Dury was an accomplished actor and broadcaster.

Disabled by polio as a child, he proudly flew the flag for the acceptance of disability.

Ironically, news of his final illness brought about a career resurgence.

He travelled with star-of-the moment Robbie Williams into the Sri Lankan war zone to highlight efforts to vaccinate children against polio.

He also continued to performed at gigs including Paul Weller's annual outdoor London festival in August 1998 and appeared in a number of high profile adverts.

Attached to a drip, he made the most of his final months, speaking bravely and matter-of-factly about facing death.

He sought to remove the taboos about the disease which had already taken some of his closest friends.

He had managed to conceal his cancer for three years, but went public in a Sunday paper interview when it spread to his liver and became inoperable.

Forever counting his reasons to be cheerful, he said: "You don't have cancer; it has you. The 'chemo' (chemotherapy) won't get rid of it.

"But it's another lease of - well, however long it is. You just don't know, but it's better than being hit by a bus tomorrow; you have time to sort yourself out."

He had reservations about using private medicine "because I'm a socialist, but I don't want to go on no waiting list and end up a dead socialist."

He leaves four children, two grown up from his first marriage to Elizabeth, which ended in divorce in 1985, and two young children from his second marriage, to sculptress Sophie Tilson.

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