Date of Birth : Nov 24th 1942
William “Billy” Connolly, CBE, (born 24 November 1942) is a Scottish comedian, musician, presenter, and actor. He is sometimes known, especially in his native Scotland, by the nickname The Big Yin (The Big One). The nickname was first used during Connolly’s adolescent years to differentiate between himself and his father, William Connolly, Sr.
In 1965, after he had completed a five-year apprenticeship as a welder, Connolly accepted a ten-week job building an oil rig in Nigeria. Upon his return to Scotland, he focused on being a folk singer.
His popularity in Britain endeared him to many other British entertainers including musicians such as Elton John. John at that time was trying to assist British performers he personally liked, to achieve success in the U.S. (He had released records in the US by veteran British pop singer Cliff Richard on his own Rocket Records label.) John tried to give Connolly a boost in America by using him as the opening act on his 1976 US tour. But the well-intentioned gesture was a failure. Elton John’s American fans had no interest in being warmed-up by an unknown comedic performer – especially a Scotsman whose accent was incomprehensible to most Americans. “In Washington, some guy threw a pipe and it hit me right between my eyes”, he told Michael Parkinson two years later. “It wasn’t my audience. They made me feel about as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit.”
In 1979, Connolly was invited by producer Martin Lewis to join the cast of The Secret Policeman’s Ball – the third in the series of the Secret Policeman’s Ball fundraising shows for Amnesty International. Connolly was the first comedic performer in the series who was not an alumnus of the Oxbridge school of middle-class university-educated entertainers and he made the most of his appearance. His performance was considered to be one of the highlights of the show’s comedy album (released by Island Records in December 1979) and feature film (released by ITC Films in 1980). Appearing in the company of long-established talents such as John Cleese and Peter Cook helped elevate the perception of Connolly as one of Britain’s leading comedic talents. Lewis also teamed Connolly with Cleese and Cook to appear in the television commercial for the album.