Hi there. Nice to be with you. Happy you could stick around. Like to introduce...
So begins a song called The Intro and The Outro by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.
Like many bands in the mid-1960s, the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band formed from a collection of friends at art school, in this case Goldsmiths College of Art1. The original line-up included Vivian, or Viv, Stanshall, Neil Innes, Roger Ruskin-Spear, 'Legs' Larry Smith and Rodney Slater although the group featured several others at various times. The resultant band of former Goldsmith students started out locally, on the London pub and club scene; they went on to have a short but prolific recording life, mainly between 1967 and 1969. During this period they also featured as the resident band on the TV show Do Not Adjust Your Set.
Before disbanding in 1970 they released four albums and toured extensively, including around the USA. They reformed briefly for a fifth album and a reunion single in 1987. They were, however, the jokers in the pack during the most psychedelic period of the sixties.
'The Intro and The Outro', which appeared on the band's 1967 debut album Gorilla, is a jokey look at that song in every band's live set where the leader always introduced the musicians on the stage. The album was released in October 1967 about four months after the Beatles released Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band so it is very likely it was also a parody on that iconic album sleeve. Many of the 'musicians' featured in the lyric are from other walks of life - and even from other eras. Here, however, is a short pencil-sketch of all those mentioned.
The 'Musicians' Listed
'Legs' Larry Smith - Drums
Larry was an ever-present member of the band; he attended the College of Art in London, where he met Viv and became his flatmate.
He played tuba, drums (he replaced Sam Spoons in that role), congas, bushes, tap-dancing, and vocals on the band's albums. He basically played all percussion, really - including an ordinary domestic tap. After the Doo Dah Band he went on to write and perform 'Springtime for Hitler' from the Mel Brooks movie The Producers and as Toppo D Bill released the single 'Witch Toe Tai'. He also went on to appear in the film Bullshot (1989) for which he also performed the title track.
Larry later joined Bob Kerr's Whoopee Band along with several other members of the Doo Dah Band: Bob Kerr was also a former Bonzo. They appeared in several TV series including Kenny Everett's Making Whoopee (1970) and The Hope and Keen Show (1974). They also appeared on radio and toured some unusual places, including Iceland, Lapland and Russia.
Sam Spoons - Rhythm pole
Sam, also known as Martin Ash, played rhythm pole, drums, string bass, spoons and general percussion. Sam was another exile into Bob Kerr's Whoopee Band. However, as is the case with many members of the band, not a lot of biographical detail is available.
Vernon Dudley Bohay-Nowell - Bass Guitar
Band member and another exile into Bob Kerr's Whoopee Band.
Neil Innes - Piano
Neil is an excellent pianist and songwriter, especially in the comedic field. One of his great contributions to popular culture while with the band was 'I'm The Urban Spaceman' which was the only chart hit for the band. The song was a comic masterpiece and produced by Apollo C Vermouth, better known as Paul McCartney. Following the break-up of the band in 1970 Neil formed the Grimms before returning to television.
However it was his appearance with the band on Do Not Adjust Your Set that led to a connection that would have a great influence on Innes. It was here that he first met Eric Idle and became a regular contributor to Monty Python's Flying Circus. In fact, he appeared with the Pythons as they toured, most notably at the famous Live at the Hollywood Bowl gig.
He went on to become part of the spoof band The Rutles and along with Eric Idle appeared on TV in Rutland Weekend Television. He wrote and performed the 1980 BBC series The Innes Book of Records. In the early 1980s he headed off into children’s entertainment, being the voice behind Puddle Lane and The Raggy Dolls, as well as a contributor on The Book Tower.
Rodney Slater - Saxophone
Roger Ruskin Spear - Tenor Saxophone
Vivian Stanshall - Trumpet
Stanshall (1943 - 1995) is of course the voice doing all the introductions on this song and he also did the narration on Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells - for which he was probably most recognised. He was the leader of the Doo Dah Band and it was his humour that so inspired the work of the band.
After the band split he made a number of solo albums, including Men Opening Umbrellas Ahead (1974) and Teddy Boys Don't Knit (1981), but he is probably best remembered in his own right for Sir Henry at Rawlinson End (1980) and the follow-up Sir Henry at Ndidi's Kraal. Sir Henry was a bawdy, loud and crude caricature of the aristocracy who started as a radio creation but went on to be a stage play, album, book and movie. Viv died tragically in a house fire at his home in North London in 1995.
'Big' John Wayne - Xylophone
Born Marion Michael Morrison on 26 May, 1907, John 'the Duke' Wayne starred in 142 movies, which is a record for an actor in leading roles. Most of these were Westerns including his Oscar-winning performance in True Grit. Some celebrities, such as astronomer Sir Patrick Moore, are noted for their xylophone-playing; John Wayne isn't - not even in his last film, The Shootist, made in 1976 just before he died of cancer.
Robert Morley - Guitar
Morley (1908 - 1992) is a rotund, portly, double-chinned British character actor usually cast in jovial or pompous comedic roles. His debut film in 1938, Marie Antoinette, actually won him an Oscar nomination for best-supporting actor. He appeared in 1956 in the David Niven film version of Around the World in 80 Days and then in the 1989 all-star TV-produced adaptation of Istanbul, his last role.
Billy Butlin - Spoons
Billy Butlin (1899 - 1980) was the South Africa-born British holiday camp entrepreneur who opened his first Butlin's holiday camp at Skegness, Lincolnshire in 1936. The redcoats who ran the entertainment and encouraged socialising at his camps may very well have entertained the guests with spoons. Whether Billy himself did we are not aware, but he did like to keep his guests happy.
Adolf Hitler - Vibes
Apart from being the deceased leader of the German Third Reich, perpetrator of World War Two and lover of Eva Braun, he did have an interest in the arts, so much so that he wanted to own them all. Born in 1889 in Austria he killed himself in 1945 in his Berlin bunker as the Russians approached. However his presence in this song is a social statement that at long last the British people were starting to be able to laugh about the Second World War in a mocking way.
Princess Anne - Sousaphone
The image of Princess Anne the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth being encased in the tubes of a Sousaphone is very amusing. However at the time of the song she was a top international three-day eventer and could quite possibly have had the muscles and the breathing skills to carry off playing this if she so chose.
Liberace - Clarinet
Wladsziu Valentino Liberace (1919 - 1987) was a flamboyant pianist and entertainer. He appears in the Guinness Book of Records as the World's highest-paid musician. Still, it appears that for this record he was unable to displace the band's regular pianist, Neil Innes, on this song, as he 'guested' - and so had to settle for clarinet instead.
Garner Ted Armstrong - Vocals
Garner Ted Armstrong (1930 - 2003) was a successful and controversial American TV evangelist. He was the son of Herbert Armstrong, a pioneer radio evangelist. His was a well-known voice; his shows used to air to 20 million Americans weekly in the 1960s and 70s. He would probably seem a little out of place in this company. He wrote controversially-headlined conservative articles on his website. Some of the recent titles before his death included 'Sodomite Elected As Bishop In Episcopal Church!' and 'Won't It Be Wonderful, When Iraq Becomes Just like America?'. How he would have got on with Viv though, if they were to have met, is anyone's guess. For a man of God he surprisingly broadcast from pirate radio ship Radio London from 1964 to 1967, presumably because his brand of preaching wasn't acceptable under the Religious Broadcasting Act.
Lord Snooty and Pals - Tap-dancing
Lord Snooty and his pals was one of the original cartoons in the legendary Dundee-based Beano comic, appearing weekly from 1938 - 1990 and occasionally since. Snooty is the Earl of Bunkerton Castle.
Snooty is looked after by his guardian Aunt Matilda and Samuel, the castle guard. His pals who hang around the castle and join in his antics: Big Fat Joe, Scrapper, Swanky Lanky Liz, Thomas (an indecisive boy whose hair is shaped like a question mark), Rosie and Polly, as well as Snitch and Snatch (identical twins). Also involved are Angus, Snooty's pet stag and Cyril the castle jackdaw. They are constantly in conflict with the Gasworks Gang.
Harold Wilson - Violin
Harold Wilson (1916 - 1995) Labour Prime Minister of the UK in the 1960s and 70s. He won four general elections but never enough of a majority to ensure two full terms and was supported by the Liberals in the Lib-Lab pact from 1973 - 1974. The choice of violin to be played by the leader may be a political reference to the Roman Emperor Nero who, it is rumoured, fiddled while he watched Rome burn. There is possibly some commentary on Wilson's handling of the British economy in this choice of instrument here.
Franklyn MacCormack - Harmonica
Franklyn MacCormack (1906 - 1971) was the host of All Night Showcase on WGN Radio in Chicago. He interspersed moody, contemplative music with poetry readings, which would have struck a chord with Viv and his eclectic mix of songs and poetry. Franklyn died on air while performing. He also released a number of albums where he narrated over music, similar in influence to some of the Doo Dah Band's stuff and Viv's later solo albums.
Eric Clapton - Ukulele
Eric Clapton, the rock musician, does actually play ukulele on this record. He was a close friend of the band and did a lot of work with Viv, even after the band split. Both Eric and another close friend, George Harrison, were accomplished ukulele players and members of the George Formby fan club. Formby (1904 - 1961) was a ukulele-playing comedy star of 21 films from 1934 and performed over 300 original songs in his forty-year career.
Sir Kenneth Clark - Bass Saxophone
Kenneth McKenzie Clark (1903 - 1983) was a noted art historian and critic. He was educated at Winchester and Trinity College, Oxford. He was, among other things, Director of the National Gallery (1934 - 45), Surveyor of the King's pictures (1933 - 44) and Chair. He was knighted in 1938 and created a Peer in 1969. His son was the notorious Conservative MP and diarist Alan Clark.
His books include Leonardo da Vinci (1939), Landscape into Art (1949), Piero della Francesca (1951), The Nude (1956) and Rembrandt and the Italian Renaissance (1966). However, Sir Kenneth is best-remembered for his television series Civilisation in 1969.
His given instrument is to reflect the deep bass of his serious voice, quirked up with one of the funniest instruments the Saxophone. Just look at what it did for Bill Clinton's presidency.
A Session Gorilla - Vox humana
The Session Gorilla was a late addition to the players on this track (see the section on controversies at the end of the Entry for the reason why).
The vox humana is an organ stop. It is also the Latin for 'human voice.'
However, there was also a set of albums called Vox Humana, which recorded the full range of human voices and also included a Gorilla as a bit-part - hence his inclusion as a session musician here. No theatre or cinema organ would be considered complete without at least one vox humana so maybe the Gorilla in question may have enjoyed watching his cousins in horror movies. With Viv and his lyrics, we can not be too sure as to his original intention.
The puns in this one item are numerous; the reader should draw their own conclusions as to what was in Vivian Stanshall's mind on this one. All interpretations seem to rely on irony and the spinning of puns.
Incredible Shrinking Man - Euphonium
The Incredible Shrinking Man was a 1957 film by Universal Studios. Scott Carey is the hero of the film who starts to shrink after being enveloped in a radioactive fog. It is one of many films from the Cold War era that focus on possible consequences and mutations of nuclear disasters. The idea of the one tiny member of the band playing the euphonium, the smallest member of the family of largest brass instruments, (the tubas) is true comic genius.
Peter Scott – Duck Call
Peter Scott (1909 - 1989) was the son of Sir Robert Falcon Scott, the ill-fated leader of the second team to reach the South Pole. He was a keen twitcher, or birdwatcher. In fact he was an accomplished artist of wildlife most famous for his pictures of ducks, so the choice of instrument is highly appropriate. His painting was famously lampooned by Peter Cook (1937 - 95) and Dudley Moore (1935 - 2002) in their infamous National Gallery sketch. He set up the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust as well as the WorldWide Fund for nature. He was also a keen sportsman: a competition standard ice-skater, an Olympic Bronze medallist for single-handed dinghy sailing and a British Open Gliding Champion. Like his father, however, he was unsuccessful in his greatest venture. He skippered the British America's Cup Challenger Sovereign in the 1964 event; he was whitewashed 4-0.
Casanova - Horn
Giacomo Casanova (1725 - 1798) is historically known as the greatest seducer of women in history. He was training for the priesthood but expelled for his licentious activities. The play on slang for a sexually aroused man comes out in the fact that he is playing the horn.
General de Gaulle - Accordion
The great French general Charles de Gaulle (1890 - 1970) was at the time of the recording President of the Fourth Republic in France. He is playing that most stereotypical of French instruments, the accordion. At the time tensions were high between Britain and France especially over Britain's potential entry into the Common Market. De Gaulle was having none of it and actively opposing British membership.
Roy Rogers on Trigger
This is a great linguistic joke. Having introduced all the above members of the band now we introduce the cowboy from the classic period of Hollywood westerns and his faithful horse. Just when you thought you couldn't laugh any harder this line throws you off kilter again.
Roy was born Leonard Franklin Slye in 1911, dying in 1998. He appeared in over 100 films, starring in 87 of these.
Wild Man of Borneo - Bongos
Borneo was the nickname for band member Fred Munt.
Count Basie Orchestra - Triangle
The Count Basie Orchestra was one of the great show bands. Its leader William Count Basie (1904 - 1984) was an outstanding jazz pianist. He started touring in 1924 as a soloist before joining Walter Page's Blue Devils in 1928. He joined Bennie Morton's Kansas City Orchestra in 1929 and when the leader died in 1936 he assumed leadership and set about establishing his own big band style, the orchestra assuming his name.
The joke in selecting them was that with all the gathered musicianship in their number all they did was play the triangle - the most simple of percussion instruments - and even then just the once. Then again it could be Neil Innes's nervousness at yet another accomplished pianist trying to rain on his parade.
The Rawlinsons - Trombone
The Rawlinsons were a favourite creation of Vivian Stanshall. Led by the grotesque Sir Henry the family appeared on some narrative pieces on record and the TV shows.
Dan Druff - Harp
Not a real person at all but that ailment of flaking skin that affects most people at some time or other. While it will appear on harp is possibly due to the head position of a harpist being almost entwined in the instrument, leading to the easy transference from head to harp.
Quasimodo - Bells
Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame is clearly the best-known campanologist in literary history. Whether the peal of Notre Dame actually features on the record the reader should decide when they next visit Paris.
Brainiac - Banjo
Brianiac, real name Vril Dox, was a villain from DC Comics' Superman series, first appearing in 1958. He has green eyes and light green skin, resembling natives of the planet Colu; however he is a computer spy created by the computer tyrants who seized Colu. He commands an arsenal of nightmarish weapons which have been conjured up by his scientific, superintelligent brain. Before the destruction of the planet Krypton he literally stole the city of Kandor, by reducing it to microscopic size. At least that would give him something to talk to the euphonium player about.
Val Doonican as himself
Michael Valentine Doonican was an Irish singer who was a staple of Saturday evening television in the 1960s and 1970s when light entertainment was still based on the concert hall mentality of encouraging talent rather than the gameshow that is so prevalent today. He was born in 1927 in Waterford, South East Ireland.
Max Jaffa was a violinist who had his own Orchestra in the 1930s and 1940s.
Zebra Kid and Horace Bachelor - Percussion
Zebra Kid was a wrestler who was painted by Peter Blake, an art school lecturer of the band, for the picture The Masked Zebra Kid in 1965. He was born in 1923 in Warren, Ohio named George Bollas to Greek immigrant parents. He played football at high school before the Second World War and afterwards hoped to play for Ohio State university. He starred instead on the mat, becoming the most renowned wrestler in OSU history. In his freshman year, he won the NCAA Big Ten Heavyweight Championship, then finished second in his division at the AAU tournament. As a sophomore, he repeated his success as the Big Ten champion and was named to the All-American team. He was older than the average college wrestler and dropped out of college and turned pro in 1947. In 1961 he teamed up with Mike Shrape to win in the UK the International TV Tag Team Title. He retired from wrestling in 1968. His preferred percussion instrument would be his opponent's body on the mat.
Horace Bachelor advertised on Radio Luxembourg in the 1960s with a method of winning on the Football pools. On the ads, he spelled out his address, 'Keynsham.' The Doo Dah band not only pay tribute to him here but also by naming one of their albums by that name.
J Arthur Rank - Gong
Lord Joseph Arthur Rank (1888 - 1972) was born into a Yorkshire flour-milling family but got into the early days of film-making. If you have ever seen a film produced by the Rank corporation this final entry needs no explanation whatsoever. At the start of every Rank film an Atlas-like character lifts his stick and strikes a gong. Sadly the impressive looking gong is made of cardboard.
One of the men filmed hitting the gong was Oscar-nominated actor2Robert Shaw (1927 - 1978), who went on to appear in the Bond film From Russia with Love (1963) and Jaws (1975). The sound of the resounding gong was supplied by James Blades (1902 - 1999) an orchestral percussionist, who also composed the dot-dot-dot-dash ditty that was broadcast to the continental resistance 150 times a day during World War II.
The fact that J Arthur Rank is a euphemism and rhyming slang for masturbation is an added bonus to the humour of Stanshall and the band though and must not be overlooked. In fact it is the main reason he is in the song at all.
Firstly of course there was the mention of Adolf Hitler. He was mentioned in the same song as a member of the British Royal family. With the war so recent a memory this could have caused a major stir; but compared to another incident it was just a minor ripple.
Where Session Gorilla now sits the line once read 'And now just arriving, Quintin Hogg on pig grunt'. He was a British MP at the time who caused a bit of a rumpus about being used in such a lyrical sense. He threatened to do something, pulled a few strings or called in a few favours and ended up getting Viv back into the studio to record the line that we now have today. It is not known if any of the original copies exist; if they do they would be extremely valuable.