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Billy [Abridged, Audiobook, CD] [Audio CD]

Pamela Stephenson
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)

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Book Description

20 Aug 2007
From welding to folk singing to comedy to writing to acting, Billy Connolly has proved his versatility and sheer determination. Here, his wife Pamela gives the reader an insider's view of this talented musician, singer, TV presenter, comedian and actor.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Abridged edition edition (20 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007131607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007131600
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 12.6 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,161,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Billy Connolly is loud, hilarious and contradictory. His biography, written by his wife, former comedian and practising psychotherapist Pamela Stephenson, is pretty much the same. Over the years Connolly has grown from Glasgow shipyard welder to folk-singing beardy hard man (yes there is such a thing) to darling of the good and great (or at least famous) around the world. That he is so many things to so many people while in no way compromising his core self can only be good. It would be no mean feat for Stephenson, then, to pen a history to that would satisfy Connolly audiences of fans and contemporaries from all periods of his life's journey. In most places, but in truth, not all, the author manages to do this well.

The first half of the biography is somewhat anthropological in tone. Not surprisingly, a post-war Glasgow upbringing is somewhat alien to the antipodean author and Stephenson errs towards Angela's Ashes intonation as she describes her husband's tenement childhood (Scots readers may also find her regular translation of seemingly self-explanatory Scots phrases--which Connolly would use--obtuse). In contrast her examination of her experience of living with the comedian and his life from that point on is much better. Anecdotes which Connolly uses in his live shows pepper the text and laughs are raised as he tells of the time he was mistaken as a drug dealer on Speyside, of his cheeky friendships with cinema's elite and even through the more difficult times; the difficulty of balancing an almost manic humour with a troubled life. Pages turn quickly as we grow to understand more of what makes the man tick.

Certainly fans of Billy Connolly will enjoy this book. It is not perfect but it is certainly entertaining and should fill a gap in the market until Billy--with his half-remembered stories and off-centre view of the world--decides to let us into his head as well as his history. There's surely one ideal way to do this and that's by writing his story himself. --Helen Lamont --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


‘Searingly honest, it’s an engrossing story told with all the winning warmth and insight we have come to expect from clinical psychologist and former comedian, Pamela.’ Woman’s Weekly

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
73 of 76 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the Connolly Biography 4 Jan 2002
I grew up in the same Glasgow tenements as Billy Connolly, jumped the same dykes and scurried to the same outside toilets on a dark night. I bought his records in the 70s, his videos in the 90s and saw him once live. I'm a fan and glad he's doing well.
I approached this biography with an open mind - keen to learn more about a great entertainer and a bit of a hero of mine. I have to say, I was left feeling somewhat cheated.
The book is structured chronologically and each chapter deals with a sizeable chunk of the Big Yin's life. The chapters are titled with Connollyesque catch-phrases ("Cop yer whack!" etc.) but, most irritatingly, introduced by contemporary vignettes of Connolly's current lîfe. Since the book was published in late 2001, most of these are very recent and recount events like Hollywood parties and Connolly's Glasgow University graduation. For someone reading the book within months of publication they serve to highlight its freshness but as time rolls on, the effect will stagnate and, five years from now, they will make this book seem past its sell-by date.
Other reviewers have commented on the relentless name-dropping with which Stephenson peppers the text and it is in these chapter intros that the celebs crowd - Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman and so on. Seriously, how well do any of these people really know Billy Connelly? So is their opinion important to our understanding of the man? Or does Stephenson think that celebrity brings with it a gift of character judgement that lesser mortals lack?
In the earlier chapters, when recounting Connolly's childhood, apprenticeship and early career, the book is interesting.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dismal Rubbish 29 Dec 2001
By A Customer
If this is Pamela Stephenson's first attempt at writing, I truely hope it is her last! This book could have been an all time best seller. Who else could write a warts and all book about his life, if not Billy Connolly's wife? It appears that there was very little research done, (the woman LIVES with Billy, for goodness sake!), and tells very little that was not already known about Billy Connolly.
Little stories that Pamela mentions regarding Billy have been mentioned on numerous occasions by the man himself on stage. ANYONE could've written this book, with the exception of Billy's childhood. All the material contained in the book can be found on the Billy Connolly videos already on sale.
I constantly got the impression that Pamela was not only writing a biography about her husband, but was also writing an autobiography. There was so much about herself which was completely unneccessary. I also thought she felt some compulsion to show the world how good a psychiatrist she is, with her constant ramblings in psycho-babble. Her name dropping became irritating as a lot of it bore no direct connection to Billy.
Another thing that concerned me is the section when she mentions "An Audience with Billy Connolly". She claims that the backdrop with the photo of the audience and the canned applause was never used - WRONG! It was used at the very beginning of the show. If this is the best Pamela Stephenson can do then it is a huge unjustice to a great man.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An amazing story, poorly told 14 Jan 2002
By A Customer
I found it a shame that the subject's own wife couldn't have done a better job of this. Yes, there is far too much gratuitous name-dropping in this book, and the sometimes muddled style of writing can make it confusing at first to keep track of the who's-who list of family members.
Many of the quotes and opinions used from the man himself appear to be taken from past television/public appearances (See the "Erect for 30 years" video for most of them) rather than from personal conversation. I could not help but feel that a great opportunity had been missed here.
The story which is being told, however, is what makes this book a very worthwhile read. Billy Connolly's unlikely life-journey is truly a triumph and an inspiration.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A work in progress 13 Jun 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This biography promised much but does not match its hype. Where the Big Yin shines through in his own words and phrasing, the text becomes lively and gripping. Sadly, in trying to understand her husband's abusive past, Pamela Connolly approaches him as if he were an interesting and slightly dangerous specimen, to be explained in psychological terms to an unenlightened world. This is often simplistic and frequently patronising. She can't actually write. When her husband's voice appears, the writing improves and stops being so stilted.
Nevertheless, the book is worth reading - perhaps not worth splashing out on the hardback, but certainly read it in paperback if you are a fan of the Wellie booted One. He is a survivor and, with reason, an angry one. Keep your fingers crossed that all the treatment of him as a 'work in progress' (his own words) does not dim the humour and rage.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The right subject but the wrong author 24 Nov 2001
By A Customer
This book leaves you with mixed feelings about Billy Connolly but weary of his wife. When she is not name dropping about Billy's Hollywood friends she is reminding us of her adopted profession. Sadly she does not give us much insight into her husband's motivation and compulsions. This would have been really interesting. Perhaps she is too close to the man for anything other than hero worship. The material on Connolly's early years is really good and you feel great admiration for his fortitude. Sadly, by the end of the book I was wearying of him.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Billy the Great (Kid) !!!
From tears of laughter to tears of sadness. A great book about a great and unique life!
Published 20 days ago by Pomodoro (Ireland)
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 26 days ago by Mrs C.
1.0 out of 5 stars waste of time
This book was a real disapointment. I grew up when in a time when every working class house had a Billy Connelly LP..maybe 2 if you were on the up. Hes a great comic performer. Read more
Published 4 months ago by seanjm
4.0 out of 5 stars Liked it but better patter in books below!
Yeah a better book about Billy should have and will be written...meanwhile read Colin Macfarane's BRILLIANTLY funny trilogy The Real Gorbals Story, Gorbals DIehards and No Mean... Read more
Published 4 months ago by John
4.0 out of 5 stars well done Pam
Perfect read.So many interesting times in his life.He is such a colourful character. Long may he continueto be.Love Billy Connolly.
Published 7 months ago by Dorcas Jarvis
4.0 out of 5 stars Pictureof serious and funny
A good r

ead with a great mixture of wisdom serious issues plus belly laughs. One that can be dipped into.
Published 7 months ago by Angie
5.0 out of 5 stars A really moving, well written book
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Pamela Stephenson, who I had never really warmed to, is a talented and gutsy writer, who dealt with some very controversial issues with... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Jean Amanda Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking
Great in site into someones else's life. Makes you glad about your own life.
Very pleased his adult life has been better than his childhood.
Published 11 months ago by Mrs Carole Hardisty
2.0 out of 5 stars Condescending
Why did Pamela write Billy's autobiography ? Did she not think he was up to the job ?

I find Pamela's parading of Billy and his 'issues' very condescending. Read more
Published 11 months ago by kaz
5.0 out of 5 stars good for a laugh
who doesn't like our Billy? this book is well written and gives the insight into Billy Connelly life, seeing the up and downs of a well loved comedian
Published 11 months ago by big moma
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