Multi-talented Billy Connolly is a world-famous comic, an actor on stage, screen, and television, a playwright, and a folk musician. Connolly was born on the kitchen floor of a Glasgow tenement in 1942. During the war, his father William joined the Royal Air Force and due to the stress of separation, his marriage to Connolly's mother disintegrated, leaving William in charge of raising Connolly and his little sister, Flo. He in turn sent the children to live with his two sisters, which made for a difficult home life as they resented their new responsibilities. At age 15, Connolly left school and worked as a delivery boy at a bookstore and then a bakery until he was old enough to work in the shipyards. In 1960, Connolly began a five-year welding apprenticeship. He left in the early '60s to join the Parachute regiment of the Territorial Army and during his stint completed 17 parachute jumps. After leaving the military, he finished his welding apprenticeship and took a job constructing an oil rig in Biafra, Nigeria. The work was unpleasant and eventually he returned to Glasgow.
An episode of The Beverly Hillbillies inspired Connolly to buy a banjo and, following experience in other folky bands, founded the Humblebums with guitarist Tam Harvey. They were later joined by pop singer Gerry Rafferty. Their music, coupled with Connolly's joke-telling between songs, led to considerable popularity, and the Humblebums enjoyed the wild life of touring, partying, and doing everything excessively. Due to his growing tendency to dominate their concerts with comedy, he and Rafferty had a falling out and the group disbanded in 1971 while they were in London. Connolly stayed and worked on his comedy career. By 1975, he had become a roaring success and was touring like a madman. In 1977, he wrote his first play, the unsuccessful An' Me Wi' A Bad Leg, Tae. Actually, none of his subsequent plays were as successful as his irreverent and sometimes coarse standup routines.