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The Bonzo Doo-Dah ‘Mad Man’: The selected adverts of Vivian Stanshall
02:14 pm


Vivian Stanshall
Bonzo Dog Band

In those later days when Bonzo Dog Band frontman Vivian Stanshall was short of a bark, a pen, a duck, or a round, he would offer his more-than-capable services to advertising companies, suggesting delightfully creative, entertaining and memorable ads, which he would script, voice and occasionally appear in. The results were usually pleasing, though I have to admit sometimes feeling an occasional disquiet over the reworking of a favorite Bonzo/Stanshall song, which often neared musical heresy. But then I’d think, why be a grinch, and really shouldn’t the ginger genius make some well-deserved money from his past work?

And Vivian certainly did make money from these adverts, some of which (the pay for his Ruddles ad, for example) he put towards recording new songs—the inspiration being Orson Welles, who paid for his movies through ads for cheap wine and frozen peas.

Some ads, like the those by film director Tony Kaye, immediately become works of art, and certainly Stanshall’s best commercials deserve to be considered so—his ad for Ruddles beer, for example, is a work of genuine brilliance. It was inspired by Sir Henry at Rawlinson End and features a disguised Dawn French as Sir Henry, and Stanshall as narrator who recites the following poem:

Malcolm the Porcupine went to see if a moon of green cheese would float

He exhaled a spray of ‘will you go away’

To the land where the hoppity oats

He brewed humpty of Ruddles

Which he dumpty in puddles

And licked up whenever it snowed

In final conclusion, ‘twas only illusion,

Malcolm Porcupine said ‘I’LL BE BLOWED’

Commencing his doodles

With oodles of noodles

From soup of a green green hue
Sir Cuthbert first faltered
Nonplussed, altered
Then called for his favourite brew

Rolling an eyeball for kicks

Is somewhere between and betwixt

But feared overbite

Or the gift of hindsight

But not a patch on a Ruddles at six

In some respects making adverts was an ideal earner for Stanshall, as his alcoholism had wreaked havoc with his health, and limited his ability to remain focused and reliable—he wasn’t exactly “reliable” on the Ruddles shoot, either, but the ad agency were so keen on working with the great man that they indulged his occasional lapses.

Stanshall’s other ads usually reworked his songs to differing comic effect—the excellent ”Terry Keeps His Cips On” for Toshiba, and everyone’s favorite “Mister Slater’s Parrot” for Cadbury’s Cream Egg. Though it was Stanshall’s collaboration with Supermarionation genius, Gerry Anderson, the man behind Captain Scarlet and Thunderbirds, which used the song “The Big Shot” for Tennent’s Pilsner that captured something of the old Bonzo zaniness.

Ruddles Real Ale: ‘Are you ready for a Ruddles?’
More Vivian Stanshall ads after the jump…

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Anarchy and Surrealism in Belgium: The Bonzo Dog Band, live at the Bilzen Jazz Festival, 1969
09:31 am


Neil Innes
Vivian Stanshall
Bonzo Dog Band

For fans of The Bonzo Dog Band, it doesn’t get much better than this outlandish performance shot live at the Jazz Bilzen festival in Belgium on August 22, 1969.

Well, actually had the cameras been pointed at the right place at the right times… Eventually, though, the cameramen do figure it out.

It starts off with an extended interview with Neil Innes.

Set list:

Big Shot
You Done My Brain In
Hello Mabel
I’m The Urban Spaceman
Quiet Talks and Summer Walks
I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles
In The Canyons of Your Mind
Trouser Press

I’ve been conducting an interview over email with Neil Innes about his recently released Le Duck’s Box Set collecting his Innes Book of Records-era output that will be published on Dangerous Minds soon.

In the meantime, enjoy this wild video of the Bonzos in all their glory. Imagine someone doing something like this onstage today.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Neil Innes, the ‘Seventh Pytohon’: How Sweet to Be an Idiot

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘High School Hermit’: Another Delightful Moment in TV History from The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band

A delightful moment in TV history as The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band perform “High School Hermit” (aka “Metaphorically Speaking”) on Do Not Adjust Your Set, circa 1967.

This excellent little classic was left-off their debut album Gorilla, which was a shame as it contains everything that made the Bonzos so utterly lovable.

Bonus: The Bonzos perform ‘Noises For The Leg’ take 2 from TV 1969, after the jump…

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When Keith Moon was barman to Ronnie Lane and Vivian Stanshall

Just a great photograph of Keith Moon as barman fixing drinks for Ronnie Lane, Vivian Stanshall and music journalist, Chris Welch.


DM reader dogmatique passed on the following message (via a friend of a friend, and the all-connecting power of the internet) in which Mr. Chris Welch explained some of the background to this wonderful photograph by Barrie Wentzell:

“It was a wonderful night at the Crown & Cushion where Keith was ‘mine host’ I only saw this photo by Barrie [Wentzell] fairly recently, years after the event and it brought back many memories. Sad to say I’m the only survivor of this jolly scene. Incidently Keith took his role in running the pub very seriously and was most excited about his latest purchase, a Microwave oven, the first we’d ever seen. An elderly customer demanded to see the manager to complain about the service, prompting Keith to bark ‘I AM the manager’. I now realise this was a ‘set up’ planned with Viv Stanshall for my benefit. Note we are ALL smoking. No ban in those days. Freedom man!”

Many thanks to dogmatique for passing on this info, and to Chris Welch.
Via nineteen67

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‘Be Realistic, Ask for the Impossible’: Vivian Stanshall tells a surreal comic tale

Meanwhile…in a garret in the Palace…Vivian Stanshall advises us to ‘Be Realistic. Ask for the impossible,’ as he tells a surreal comic tale that preempts the mash-up and scratch video. Originally broadcast on Up Sunday circa 1972.


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Does surrealism belong in music: BiG GrunT’s ‘11 Mustachioed Daughters,’ 1970
10:10 am


Vivian Stanshall
Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band

Paul posted this clip last year, but it’s worth another airing: After eight years with the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, in 1970 Vivian Stanshall formed the short lived BiG GrunT with fellow former Bonzos Dennis Cowan on bass and Roger Ruskin Spear on wind instruments and infernal machines, plus “Borneao” Fred Munt, the ex-Bonzo roadie, on conga drums and saxophone.

The group, seen here in this amazing performance of “11 Mustachioed Daughters” from March 30, 1970, didn’t last long as front-man Stanshall was sadly sidelined with a hospital stay for a nervous breakdown.

Dozens more Bonzo Dog Band, Vivian Stanshall and Neil Innes related clips—in great quality—at NellyM’s YouTube channel.

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The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band: Debut appearance on classic kid’s show ‘Blue Peter’ in 1966

And believe it or not that solo was played on spoons - just like these ones, Blue Peter presenter Christopher Trace tells his audience, at the end of this wonderful, little clip of The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band performing “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey?” on the show in February 1966.

With thanks to Vivian

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GRIMMS: The most incredible 70’s Supergroup, you’ve probably never heard of

GRIMMS was a like a collision between a busload of musicians, a van full of comics and a mobile library. As Supergroups go, GRIMMS was certainly the most original, literary and possibly hirsute, with their mix of poetry, music, comedy and theater.

Assembled from the movable parts of the Bonzo Dog Band (Neil Innes, Vivian Stanshall), The Scaffold (John Gorman, Mike McGear, Roger McGough) and Liverpool Scene (Roger McGough, Andy Roberts). GRIMMS was an acronym of the surnames of the original line-up Gorman (whose idea it had been), Roberts, Innes, McGough, McGear, and Stanshall.

Neil Innes later said of the band’s formation:

“I don’t know what attracted the Scaffold to the Bonzos; we were incredibly anarchic, which was probably something shared by the Scaffold as well. Hence Grimms, this leap in the dark.”

We all know about the genius of The Bonzos, so let’s jump to The Scaffold, that strange hybrid pop band made up from John Gorman (who would go onto star in the children’s show Tiswas, and its adult counterpart OTT with Chris Tarrant and Alexei Sayle in the 1980s), Mike McGear (Paul McCartney’s brother), and poet Roger McGough, who had been one of the 3 Mersey Poets, and was a member of The Liverpool Scene. The Scaffold had chart success with their novelty records “Thank U Very Much”, “Lily the PInk” and “Liverpool Lou”, the last recorded with Paul McCartney and Wings

Liverpool Scene was the Liverpool Poets: McGough (works include Summer With Monika, After The Merrymaking), Brian Patten (works include Little Johnny’s Confession and Notes to the Hurrying Man) and Adrian Henri (The Mersey Sound), and musician Andy Roberts.

GRIMMS changed shape over the years as band members left, moved on or lost hair. These were quickly replaced by hats, wigs and some very special talents, including Keith Moon (The Who), Jon Hiseman (Colosseum), Michael Giles (King Crimson), John Megginson,  Gerry Conway, David Richards, Zoot Money, and future Rutles John Halsey and Peter “Ollie” Halsall.

Their first album Grimms was a lucky bag of comedy, poetry and music released in 1973, which included Innes’ songs “Humanoid Boogie”, “Short Blues” and “Twyfords Vitromant”, which was followed later the same year with Rockin’ Duck and in 1975 their final album the 5 star Sleepers.

Unlike most list documentaries today (which miss out on such diamonds as GRIMMS), the seventies was an incredible time of experimentation and risk-taking. In 1975, around the release of Sleepers, the BBC (gawd bless her and all who fail in her) produced a strange series called The Camera and The Song. It was like a collection of early pop promos, with a film-maker interpreting songs by different artists - some good, some bloody awful. Into this mix came GRIMMS, and here are 2 clips from the show (opening titles and songs) featuring the genius talents of Neil Innes and co. Lovely!

More from GRIMMS plus bonus track ‘Backbreaker’, after the jump…
With thanks to Robert Dayton

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The Bonzo Dog Band: Rare and Complete version of ‘The Adventures of the Son of Exploding Sausage’

For Bonzo Dog fans, this is the equivalent of finding the Holy Grail. The original edit and soundtrack of The Adventures of the Son of Exploding Sausage - the rarely seen Bonzo Dog Band film from 1969. It’s the Bonzo’s own Magical Mystery Tour (yes, I know they were in that), a film with no real story, just a day-in-the-countryside, with some children and a farm. You’d probably get arrested for trying something like that now… Here’s how the BFI database describes it:

The Bonzo Dog Band drive into the country in a truck, unload their equipment in some woods only to find some of it taken away by some children. They eat and play at a party, and the Bonzos play a number of instrumentals in a stable yard, including `Rockaliser Baby’, `We are Normal’ and `Quiet Walks and Summer Talks’. At the end they are driven away in a white car. Note: No words are sung. Featured alongside the Bonzo Dog Band are the children Amanda, Jennifer and Ashley Lees, Edward Roebuck, and Olivia Smith.

Clips from this film have been on YouTube over the years, usually with “words sung”, but this original instrumental soundtrack is fantastic, which as one comment on YouTube says:

‘Not just a funky old time jazz band. They give early Pink Floyd a run for their money here.’

Ah, tis true. So, if you like Vivian, Neil and co. (and why not?), do make yourself some tea and scones, and settle down and enjoy this lovely trip to the delightful world of The Bonzo Dog Band.

Bonus clips of The Bonzos, after the jump…

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Bilzen Festival 1969: 2 Hour Concert with The Bonzos, Deep Purple, Shocking Blue and more

Not going out tonight? Then stay in and enjoy over 2 hours worth of compilation footage of the Blizen Jazz Festival, from 1969. The concert includes performances by Deep Purple, The Move, Humble Pie, Shocking Blue, The Moody Blues, Soft Machine, Marsha Hunt, leading up to a joyous set by The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.

Here’s the listing as posted on YouTube in no particular order:

Shocking Blue - August 22, 1969
“Venus” + interview

Deep Purple - August 22 1969
“Wring That Neck” 
“Mandrake Root”

Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band - August 22, 1969
“Big Shot”
“You Done My Brain In”
“Hello Mabel”
“Urban Spaceman”
“Quiet Talks And Summer Walks”
“I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”
“Canyons Of Your Mind”
“Trouser Press”

Taste - August 22, 1969
“Blister On The Moon”
“Sugar Mama”

Moody Blues - August 22, 1969
“Tuesday Afternoon”
“Have You Heard” (Part 1)
“The Voyage”
“Have You Heard” (Part 2)

Soft Machine - August 22, 1969
“Moon In June” + interview

Marsha Hunt & White Trash - August 22, 1969
“My World Is Empty Without You Babe”

Brian Auger & The Trinity - August 22, 1969
“I Just Got Some”

Steve Shorter & Tilly Set - August 22 1969
“Move On Up”

Humble Pie - August 24 1969
“The Sad Bag Of Shaky Jake” /” I Walk On Gilded Splinters”

Life - August 24 1969
“Baby Please Don’t Go”

Blossom Toes - August 24 1969

The Move - August 24 1968
“Sunshine Help Me”

Roland and The Bluesworkshop - August 23 1968
Belgian TV - BRT

Various clips from this concert have appeared on the web over the years, but when placed altogether like this, it is a fab 2 hours. Enjoy!


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Ian Dury and The Blockheads: Live in Paris 1981

Ian Dury looked like he could have been your Dad. Well, that is if your Dad was cool enough to front a band, and write songs that stuck in the head like a needle in the groove. I suppose it was because he looked like an old geezer and sounded like a cab driver that made him look like your Dad, but in truth Ian Dury was the Poet Laureate of Rock ‘n’ Roll. The Cor-Blimey Bard of Pop Poetry, whose exuberant lyrical dexterity at writing short memorable couplets, made him one of music’s best loved and most respected writers and performers.

In 1977, it seemed everyone had or had heard a copy of New Boots and Panties!!, the album that gave Punk and New Wave its very own T S Eliot, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Edward Lear or W H Auden. We went in-and-out of class rooms reciting “Clevor Trever”:

“Just cos I ain’t never ad, no, nothing worth having
Never ever, never ever
You ain’t got no call not to think I wouldnt fall
Into thinking that I ain’t too clever
And it aint not having one thing nor another
Neither, either is it anything, whatever
And its not not knowing that there ain’t nothing showing
And I answer to the name of Trever, however.”

Or, singing “Billericay Dickie”:

“I had a love affair with Nina
In the back of my Cortina
A seasoned up hyena
could not have been more obscener.”

It made a change from singing “Sha-na-na-na-sha-na-na-bop-de-diddle-de-bop, baby.” And if there had been an O’Level in the lyrics of Ian Dury, then we all would have passed ‘A’ band one. It wasn’t just that The Blockheads’ songs were the bollocks, it was Dury, who was the most literary thing that had happened to music since Ron and Russell told us about “Khaki-colored bombardiers…” over Hiroshima, or, Vivian sang “Sport, Sport, masculine sport. Equips a young man for society.

Here is Ian Dury and The Blockheads with ex-Dr. Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson in the line-up giving it their all and then some in Paris 1981.

01. “Wake Up (And Make Love To Me)”
02. “Sink My Boats”
03 “Delusions of Grandeur”
04. “Dance of the Crackpots”
05. “What a Waste”
06. “Hey! Hey! Take Me Away”
07. “Hit Me (With Your Rhythm Stick)”
08. “Sweet Gene Vincent’


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The Bonzo Dog Band: ‘Noises for the Leg’ (Take 1)

Sometimes there are groups that need no introduction.

But for the record:

The Bonzo Dog Band explain “Noises for the Leg”  to Jimmy Savile, BBC December 28, 1969. Take one - lovely.

With thanks to the bi-ped Nellym!

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Vivian Stanshall: ‘One Man’s Week’ from 1975

Heresy, I suppose, but I was more pissed off at the demise of the Bonzo Dog Band than I was by the splitting of The Beatles, the retirement of Ziggy Stardust, or the return of Take That. The Mop Tops were grown-up music and a different generation, and after Stardust there was always Aladdin Sane, but neither could have inspired me to run home from school as I did for Vivian Stanshall, Neil Innes and co. when they shared billing with the proto-Pythons, Palin, Jones, Idle and Gilliam on Do Not Adjust Your Set. Now that’s the kind of thoughtful anarchy parents should encourage their children to watch, not Glee or High School Musical, but something with wit and humor that leans towards culture and art and thinking about life, with all its wrinkly absurdities.

It was always Vivian, of course, that rather scary looking Ginger Geezer, who was the Peter Cook of Pop, a chummy Evelyn Waugh, a more interesting Stephen Fry, the missing link between The Beatles and Monty Python.

I saw Vivian Stanshall’s Week when it first went out in 1975, then or thereabouts, and was mesmerized by the great ginger god’s wit, surreal humor and seemingly boundless energy, who, I knew (as did everyone else, surely?), made life that little bit more fun.

The print of this documentary is water-color cloudy, but honestly it does somehow underline the unreality that such a superb human should have ever visited this blue marble planet and in our life time to boot. Well, dearhearts, how lucky are we?

Now here’s what the blurb says:

‘In this film shot in 1975 (after the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and before the Sir Henry movie) Viv articulates his interests and obsessions with his usual surreal humour and some intoxication by the river.

“If I had all the money I’ve spent on drink — I’d spend it on drink.”

Vivian Stanshall—a thoroughly good egg.’


Previously on Dangerous Minds

Vivian Stanshall: The Ginger Geezer

Bonus tracks by Big Grunt and the Bonzo Dog Band, after the jump…

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Vivian Stanshall: The Ginger Geezer

Last night when I stumbled across the Bob Dylan/Bette Midler bootleg on Vimeo, I saw that the poster, dagb (that’s all I know about him and I suspect he would like to keep it that way) had also uploaded One Man’s Week, the 1975 documentary about the late great British eccentric and Bonzo Dog Doo Dah band singer, Vivian Stanshall. Erudite—and alcoholic—Vivian is interviewed and seen working on his African-influenced album Men Opening Umbrellas Ahead.

If you’re a Bonzos fan, this is a little bit of heaven, I promise you.

For a quick overview of who Stanshall was and why you should care, I suggest watching this, first:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment