In The Canyons Of Your Mind
August 12, 2004 1:26 AM   Subscribe

Vivian Stanshall was one of England's great modern artistes, who helped write new chapters in musical history; think of him as the British Frank Zappa or Captain Beefheart. You may have heard of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band but he was more than just a surreal front man of a great musical line up. Viv and the other band members started as a Dada-inspired jazz ensemble playing in obscure English pubs. Over time came recognition and an unexpected fusion of jazz and psychedelic rock'n'roll. The band was particularly well known for the obscure bent of their lyrics (might I suggest a glance at the truly bizarre "Intro and Outro" and the awesome Canyons Of Your Mind).

Viv and the Doo Dah Band appeared in The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour film and later on in their own filmic masterpiece entitled "Adventures of the Son of Exploding Sausage". Neil Innes (the Doo Dah's pianist) also is credited as co-creator of the Rutles along with Eric Idle whom they had met on the TV show Do Not Adjust Your Set, a TV show that introduced a number of new comedians to the British public in the late 60's.

In between battling with alcoholism and depression Viv managed to assist in the creation and maintenance of a artistic showboat, a floating palace of Dadaism, the Thekla (which is now a floating nightclub in Bristol). They held musicals, performed plays and were also using "The Old Profanity" as an art gallery. He also found time during all this to help pen a comic opera - Stinkfoot and work on several collaborations with such diverse artists as the aforementioned Beefheart, Keith Moon, Eric Clapton, Elton John and a number of the members of the Monty Python team.

After the breakup of the Bonzo Dog Band Viv became popular with his BBC Radio comedy shorts which played on John Peel's show - Rawlinson End which later became a film; Sir Henry at Rawlinson End.
(In a spooky coincidence, Vivian died exactly 100 years after the real Sir Henry Rawlinson a famous diplomat and cryptographer...)

Vivian was one of the first to experiment with the newfangled rap music in Humanoid Boogie (Realplayer stream or mp3 download) which was released in 1981 to rapturous silence. Viv's legacy lives on - Baz Luhrman's Moulin Rouge has an almost direct copy of The Sound of Music from their first album Gorilla and his music, influence and talent still ranks in many top 100 lists.

For those interested in reading more about Old Viv may I recommend this site which is run by his stepdaughter Silky Longfellow-Stanshall and has a wealth of interesting pictures and links.

This post Inspired by the recent BBC program and the MeFi post on The Top 50 Worst Guitar Solos (try listening to Canyons Of Your Mind for ample evidence).

It's also my first post so go easy, eh?
posted by longbaugh at 1:32 AM on August 12, 2004

longbaugh: you're not another hoser, are you?
posted by Turtles all the way down at 3:19 AM on August 12, 2004

A drunken Canadian? No. Why?
posted by longbaugh at 3:30 AM on August 12, 2004

Here comes the twist: longbaugh don't exist.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:43 AM on August 12, 2004

It's also worth menioning that Viv was The Master of Ceremonies on Mike Oldfield's original Tubular Bells... ("Two slightly distorted electric guitars!")
posted by benzo8 at 3:47 AM on August 12, 2004

I'm gonna get you in my tent tent tent tent tent
Where we can both experiment ment ment ment ment
Yeah yeah, it's so convenient ent ent ent ent
Let's take a taxi to my tent
posted by rory at 5:26 AM on August 12, 2004

Just keep away from my half of the drainpipe.
posted by Songdog at 5:43 AM on August 12, 2004

Hey, this thread has the same problem with its trousers as I do!
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:02 AM on August 12, 2004

And everywhere he went, people shouted, "Hooray!"
posted by chicobangs at 6:27 AM on August 12, 2004

is it pink, songdog?
posted by taz at 6:28 AM on August 12, 2004

(I am truly among my people here. Sniffle.)
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:32 AM on August 12, 2004

A drunken Canadian?

A bit redundant, eh?
posted by at 7:55 AM on August 12, 2004

How many pies can a porpoise poise on purpose if she pleases?
posted by Pericles at 11:29 AM on August 12, 2004

Hey, not all Canadians are drunk!

posted by five fresh fish at 11:36 AM on August 12, 2004

The Rawlinson motto: 'Omnes Blotto'.
posted by shinybeast at 2:58 PM on August 12, 2004

Excellent post, longbaugh. I was floored that a Bonzo FPP showed up now, when I had been considering doing one of my own. But I see there was a connection. You put more effort and ingenuity into than I would've, so it's all good.

What's not stressed enough on this thread is that while Stanshall was certainly the main force behind the group, its John Lennon if you will, we mustn't count out its Paul, Neil Innes, who not only worked with Pythonites in other projects but was the regular songwriter for the TV show (though Idle also wrote some songs) and occasionally appeared on it. You may remember him as the minstrel in Holy Grail who keeps singing "Brave, brave, brave Sir Robin" long after Robin asks him to stop.
posted by soyjoy at 11:07 AM on August 19, 2004

« Older Color combinatorics   |   Seeing orange. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments