Happy birthday to head Bonzo Vivian Stanshall, who would’ve been 71 today. Here’s a tribute Paul wrote after Viv’s tragic 1995 death:
“I originally met Viv in the London club days, out and about on the town. We used to have drinks and a laugh together and he was a lovely, funny man. He was in The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, which I saw live on stage at the Saville Theatre a couple of times when Brian Epstein promoted shows there. They were very eccentric — sort of modern yet very old-fashioned — following on from bands like the Temperance Seven.
Then I phoned Viv and asked if the Bonzos would be in Magical Mystery Tour with us. They did the scene with the stripper that we filmed in Paul Raymond’s Revuebar and I think they had a pretty good time, playing while the woman took off her clothes.
So Viv became a very good friend and I used to visit him at his house — I remember that he had an aquarium with turtles, at which we used to sit and wonder! Then he asked me to produce their next single ‘I’m The Urban Spaceman’, which I did at Chappell Studios. I went down there, met the guys, and Viv had a length of brightly-coloured plastic piping which made a noise when he swirled it around his head. That was to be his contribution. We chatted a while and then I produced the record. He suggested that I be credited as "Apollo C Vermouth”, which indeed I am, still, to this day. It turned out to be the Bonzos only hit, although hit singles is not what they were about anyway.
I’ll always remember Viv and Keith Moon being a sort of double act, the two of them playing very, very posh English gentleman. They did have their crazy side, of course, but whenever I saw them together they were perfect gentlemen. They did a joint Radio 1 show, which I heard while driving up to Scotland and was the inspiration for Oobu Joobu.
Over the following years Viv and I would see each other, on and off, at functions, but I gradually lost touch with him, so it was with particular sadness that I heard he had died. He was a wonderful man and he’ll be much missed.“
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