On Monday 3rd of December 2018, the Guardian published the news that Billy Connolly has finally decided to retire from live performances; his Parkinson's disease making it difficult to continue touring.
This is enormously sad. 'The Big Yin' has consistently been the funniest stand-up Comedy of any generation. Since the early 1970s, he has consistently thrilled audiences across the world, his performance on the Michael Parkinson show in 1975, changed his life and the comedy circuit for ever. As Brian Logan recently wrote in the Guardian, he practically invented 'stand-up'.
I first 'discovered' Billy Connolly when I was 11; borrowing my uncle's copies of 'The Big Yin' and 'The Pick of Billy Connolly', I would listen to them for hours instead of sleeping, trying not to laugh too much and give myself away. Thirty-seven years later they are still brilliant!
In 1985 I was lucky enough to see him live at Sheffield City Hall, with my Dad, on his 'Jock's Rap' Tour. He was absolutely incredible! I laughed so much, that I honestly thought at some point I would need medical assistance, it was a wonderful experience.
Whilst he was in Sheffield, a friend of mine saw him on 'The Moor' (one of the main shopping areas) and asked him for an autograph. He was absolutely thrilled to be told to 'F*ck off!' I was very jealous, he has 'dined out' on that for years....
The 'double-whammy' of Prostrate Cancer and Parkinson's Disease looked to finish off Billy, but reading the article on Monday, he's still going strong and is as sharp as a razor.
Billy Connolly is a thoroughly decent and extremely talented man, he makes the world a better place. Let's hope we still see him occasionally and Billy lives a long and happy life. Thanks very much for the laughs.