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In , he made his theatrical debut, at the Cottage Theatre in Cumbernauld , with a revue called Connolly's Glasgow Flourish. In , Connolly's first solo album, Billy Connolly Live! On his 75th birthday in , three portraits of Connolly were made by leading artists Jack Vettriano , John Byrne , and Rachel Maclean. These were later turned into part of Glasgow's official mural trail. In October of the same year, he was knighted at Buckingham Palace by Prince William , for services to entertainment and charity.

Known for his idiosyncratic and often off-the-cuff observational comedy , which frequently includes the use of profanity , Connolly was voted in the greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4 's Greatest Stand-Ups , [3] and again in the updated poll. In , he stated "My art is about revealing myself" as he unveiled the fifth release of his Born on a Rainy Day collection in London.

Connolly was born at 69 Dover Street, [6] "on the linoleum , three floors up" [7] "at six o'clock in the evening", [6] in Anderston , Glasgow. This section of Dover Street, between Breadalbane and Claremont streets, was demolished in the s.

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The flat had only two rooms: a kitchen-living room, with a recess where the children slept, and another room for their parents. The family bathed in the kitchen sink, and there was no hot water. My father was in Burma, fighting a bloody war. The Germans were dropping all kinds of crap on the town. We lived at the docks, so that's where all the bombs were happening. She was a teenager with two kids in a slum.

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A guy comes along and says, 'I love you. Come with me. It looks as though it might all end next Wednesday, from where you're standing. I don't have an ounce of feelings that she abandoned me. She tried to survive. Connolly and his older sister, Florence named after their maternal grandmother, and eighteen months his senior , [8] [11] were cared for by two aunts, Margaret and Mona Connolly, his father's sisters, in their cramped tenement in Stewartville Street, Partick. It's just a belief that I'm not quite as good as anyone else.

It gets worse as you get older. I'm a happy man now but I still have the scars of that. We didn't dare beat you up — your sister was a nightmare'. She used to get after them. In the mids, Flo was on holiday in Dunoon with her husband and two children.

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I thought, 'Oh, my god. It's like being a ghost while you're still alive. Having a look. I couldn't bear that. The aunts resented the children for the fact that they had to sacrifice their young lives to look after them. It was Mona who was troubled the most by having to care for her niece and nephew. I wish people wouldn't be very big for five minutes and rotten for twenty years.

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Just keep your 'big' and keep your 'rotten' and get out of my life, because, quite frankly, I would rather have gone to a children's home and be with a lot of other kids being treated the same. To this day, I'm still working on the things she did to me. Connolly credits one of John Bradshaw 's publications with helping him deal with his past demons. And what you have to do is carry that five- or six-year-old around with you and try and emotionally help that other part of you. It sounds a bit airy-fairy, but I think he's something of a genius, Mr.

Connolly, Sr. He never spoke to them about their mother's departure. It was fabulous. Just like real flying, except you didn't get a cup of tea or a safety belt or anything. He was presented as a brother to Billy and Flo, and nobody questioned it. Connolly's bedroom had double windows, which directly faced St Peter's Primary School across the street.

At first, in the infant school, the nuns were very violent. And then over here at St Peter's, they were just strapping you all the time. There was a guy with glasses in my class and she called him "four eyes", and she was a teacher! At St. Peter's, Connolly decided that he wanted to make people laugh.

I would have been 7 or 8.

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And I was sitting in a puddle and people were laughing. I had fallen in it and people found it funny. And it wasn't all that uncomfortable, so I stayed in it longer than I normally would because I really enjoyed the laughing. My life was very unhappy at the time, and laughter wasn't something I heard all the time, so it was a joy. And I realised quickly that if you can have an audience this way, life was rather pleasant.

His arch-enemy was Geordie Sinclair, who lived around the corner. He revisits the site of one field trip, Auchengillan scout camp, during his World Tour of Scotland. Also at that age, he joined an organisation called The Children of Mary. The group would visit people and say the Rosary , with a statue of the Lady of Lourdes in a shoebox. In the s, Glasgow's sandstone tenements fell out of favour with the planners , which resulted in new houses being built on the fields and farmlands in the outskirts of the city. Between the ages of fourteen and twenty, Connolly was brought up on a now-demolished council estate on Kinfauns Drive in the Drumchapel district of Glasgow, and would make the daily journey to St.

He rode the bus to Partick, crossed the water by ferry and walked to 80 Vicarfield Street. Well, it's in Glasgow, but just outside civilisation," he has joked. We had rabbits and pheasants, and I really quite liked it. I just started to dislike it when I got older, into my teens and things. In my late teens, when I was stuck out there, it cost me a lot of money to go anyplace. It was a kind of cowboy town, but I liked that aspect of it, buying stuff out of vans, a ragman coming in a wee green van. This dreadful atmosphere came about the place. It's like Siberia. And once you're out here, there's no getting out of it.

You have to buy your way out, or some kind of talent has to take you out, or you have to be very bright and move away to university. At fifteen, he left school with two engineering qualifications, one collected by mistake which belonged to a boy named Connell. Connolly was a year too young to work in the shipyards. He became a delivery-van driver with Bilslands' Bakery until he was sixteen, when he was deemed overqualified due to his J1 and J2 certificates to become an engineer.

From age 16 to I started my apprenticeship at 16 and finished when I was Stayed till I was 22, and moved along. I finished welding when I was When I came here, as an apprentice, there was six ships being built, right where I'm standing. It was an extraordinary place.

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Welders, caulkers, platers, burners, joiners, engineers, electricians. I learned how men talked to one another, and how merciless Glasgow humour can be. It has made an indelible mark on me. Jimmy was one of Billy's trainers in the yard who helped him to hone his skills as a welder and a comedian. He later commemorated his experiences in the song "Weekend Soldier".

Connolly's nickname The Big Yin was first used during his adolescent years to differentiate between himself and his father. Broad and strong. Huge, like a bull. And then I got bigger than him, and the whole thing got out of control. So, we'd go into the pub and someone would say, 'Billy Connolly was in.

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Big Billy or Wee Billy? In the early s, Connolly attended the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for the first time.

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After spending time on the city's Rose Street, patronising the various drinking establishments, he became enamoured by some long-haired musicians and decided to model himself on them. In , after he had completed a 5-year apprenticeship as a boilermaker, Connolly accepted a ten-week job building an oil platform in Biafra , Nigeria. After watching The Beverly Hillbillies , he bought his first banjo at the Barrowland market.

Connolly formed a folk-pop duo called the Humblebums with Tam Harvey. In , they were joined by Gerry Rafferty , who had approached Connolly after a gig in Paisley. The band signed for independent label, Transatlantic Records , and after recording one album 's First Collection of Merry Melodies , Harvey left the trio and Connolly and Rafferty went on to release two more albums: The New Humblebums and Open up the Door Connolly's time with Rafferty possibly influenced his future comedy, because years later he would recall how Rafferty's expert prank telephone calls, made while waiting to go on stage, used to make him "scream" with laughter.