Don’t you hate when that happens? You wrap yourself around a really cool concept only to find that most of the rest of the world doesn’t “get it.” It was 25 September 1962 and a couple of students at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design (aka CSM) were watching a transatlantic broadcast of the Sonny Liston/Floyd Patterson match (“boom” …third fastest knockout in a world heavyweight title fight).
Somewhere after that first round, tuba player and future lead-vocalist, Vivian Stanshall and saxophonist, Rodney Slater hit it off and started to talk about music.
After pulling in a few of their mates they decided to form a band whose name would be derived from the old “Dada” game of cutting up sentences from a magazine and pulling them out of a hat to re-juxtapose them and form something new. The favorite combination was “Bonzo Dog/Dada” and the band first performed under that name, until they quickly grew tired of having to explain what “Dada” means (most of the rest of the world didn’t “get it”) And so they became the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, aka The Bonzos.
Playing mainly as a jazz brass band, they sometimes worked at five pubs a week, gaining a reputation as a band that played “good drinking music” and, in 1966, garnering a record deal. But the siren call of rock and roll was too hard to ignore and the following year they released their first album, “Gorilla”, featuring today’s selection.
1967 was also the year that Paul McCartney asked them to appear in the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour film and preform Stanshall’s song, “Death Cab For Cutie” and it was also the year that they were hired to serve as house band for the ITV program (… I mean, programme) “Do Not Adjust Your Set” which (auspiciously) featured future “Monty Python” alums, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin….
Written by Vivan Stanshall, “The Intro and the Outro” featured every member of the band, credited with their actual instruments, and then moved on to the likes of John Wayne on xylophone and (somewhat) well-known ornithologist, Peter Scott, playing the duck call. All non-fictional “performers” mentioned were alive at the time with the exception of Casanova and Adolf Hitler.
In 1973, with Stanshell again providing the voiceover, this song provided the framework for Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells”best known as the opening theme for “The Exorcist”
The Intro and the Outro
Hi there, nice to be with you, happy you could stick around
Like to introduce “Legs” Larry Smith, drums
And Sam Spoons, rhythm pole
And Vernon Dudley Bohay-Nowell, bass guitar
And Neil Innes, piano
Come in Rodney Slater on the saxophone
With Roger Ruskin Spear on tenor sax
Hi, Vivian Stanshall, trumpet
Big hello to big John Wayne, xylophone
And Robert Morley, guitar
Billy Butlin, spoons
And looking very relaxed, Adolf Hitler on vibes… Nice!
Princess Anne on sousaphone… Mmmm
Introducing Liberace, clarinet
With Garner “Ted” Armstrong on vocals
Lord Snooty and his pals, tap dancing
In the groove with Harold Wilson, violin
And Franklin McCormack on harmonica
Over there, Eric Clapton, ukulele…. Hi Eric!
On my left Sir Kenneth Clark, bass sax…. A great honour, sir
And specially flown in for us, a session gorilla on vox humana
Nice to see Incredible Shrinking Man on euphonium
Drop out with Peter Scott on duck call
Hearing from you later Casanova, on horn
Yeah! Digging General de Gaulle on accordion….
Really wild, General! Thank you, sir
Roy Rogers on Trigger
Tune in Wild Man of Borneo on bongos
Count Basie Orchestra on triangle…. Thank you
Great to hear the Rawlinsons on trombone
Back from his recent operation, Dan Druff, harp
And representing the flower people, Quasimodo on bells
Wonderful to hear Brainiac on banjo
We welcome Val Doonican as himself (Hullo there)
Very appealing, Max Jaffa…. Mmm, that’s nice, Max!
What a team, Zebra Kid and Horace Batchelor on percussion
And a great favourite, and a wonderful performer, of all of us here
J. Arthur Rank on gong….