The Bonzo Dog Band Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band
The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, as it was originally called, was founded in 1962 by art students Vivian Stanshall and Rodney Slater. It began as a trad jazz band but soon became more of a combination of trad, 1920s sweet music and novelty songs, and visual humour, in the parodic style of the Temperance Seven (who had enjoyed UK chart success at the start of the 1960s) and the Alberts, a band led by the eccentric Bruce Lacey. The group expanded to include a number of colourful characters, including Roger Ruskin Spear and "Legs" Larry Smith, and built a reputation on the London pub circuit. They made their first records (two singles) for Parlophone in 1966, and by this time were also playing at venues such as London's Marquee Club. In 1967 their fame grew, with the release of their first LP, Gorilla, and an appearance in the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour film. After this, they began to move away from their 1920s musical roots towards the contemporary pop scene, encompassing not just parodies of current musical fads and fashions ("Can Blue Men Sing The Whites?" and "Trouser Press", supposedly a new dance craze) but new songs, often penned by band member Neil Innes. One of these, "I'm The Urban Spaceman", was a chart hit in 1968.

The Bonzos, as they were affectionately known (the "Doo Dah" was dropped from their name after their second LP, so that they became the Bonzo Dog Band) were favourites with the underground audience but also appeared regularly on British television, notably in the children's show "Do Not Adjust Your Set", which also featured future members of Monty Python. Their experience of performing took in a wide range of venues and audiences (their manager had even booked them into North of England working men's clubs) and their anarchic, very British humour, with its observations of everyday life, echoes of Goon Show surrealism and Tony Hancock-like embarrassment and despair, reflected this. But they were uninterested in the compromises needed to achieve large-scale success in the USA and after a disastrous American tour they split up in 1970. Reunions followed in 1972, 1988 and 2006, and some surviving members still perform together, but these events were less significant than the subsequent solo careers of Neil Innes and Vivian Stanshall (who died in 1995).

Wikipedia's article on the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band gives a full account of their career and influence. [1]

Links to Peel

Peel was attracted to the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, perhaps because their humour was similar to his own, as shown in the more whimsical pieces he wrote for the Kmentertainer before returning to Britain. In his International Times column of 27 October 1967 he wrote:

On Liberty [Records] the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band have a very droll LP. My favourite track is a beautiful cliché teenage mutilation fun 1955 hiccup song called "Death Cab For Cutie". That should drive Mick Farren into spasms of faintly unattractive excitement.....

The Bonzo Dog Band Death Cab For Cutie

The Bonzo Dog Band Death Cab For Cutie

'Death Cab For Cutie' (from Magical Mystery Tour, 1967)

He omits to mention the LP title, "Gorilla", but he played tracks from it, and the Bonzos' subsequent releases, including their singles, "I'm The Urban Spaceman" and "Mr. Apollo", on Top Gear. They were regular session guests until their break-up in 1970, recording a variety of material, some of which was never issued on LP, including, in 1968, a Vivian Stanshall parody of Peel's gentle hippy monotone. Peel believed, wrongly, that their early session tapes had been erased, but they were eventually found and reissued on CD. Peel would write the sleevenotes for the 2002 'Complete BBC Recordings' release on Dandelion.

The band Death Cab For Cutie named themselves after the song Peel liked in 1967; their records were played on his show more than three decades later.

Festive Fifty Entries

  • None



  • Seven sessions. Session #7 was released as The Peel Sessions (Strange Fruit, EP, 1987). From the same session, 'Sofa Head/Give Booze A Chance' was released on The Peel Sessions 67-77 Before The Fall (CD, Strange Fruit, 1991). A variety of Peel session tracks were released on Unpeeled (Strange Fruit, CD, 1995). An expanded version (although not complete) was issued as The Complete BBC Recordings (Strange Fruit, CD, 2002), with Peel contributing sleeve notes. That BBC album also includes a session listed as from Top Gear of 02 October 1968 which is not referenced in Ken's books.

1. Recorded: 1967-11-08. First Broadcast: 12 November 1967.

  • The Equestrian Statue / The Craig Torso Show / Mickey’s Son And Daughter / Death Cab For Cutie

2. Recorded: 1967-12-05. First Broadcast: 17 December 1967. Repeated:

  • The Equestrian Statue / Mickey’s Son And Daughter / Rockalayser Baby / The Monster Mash / Jazz Delicious Hot Disgustingly Cold / The Craig Torso Christmas Show

3. Recorded: 1968-04-29. First Broadcast: 05 May 1968. Repeated:

  • Do The Trouser Press Baby / Canyons Of Your Mind / I’ve Found The Answer / I’m The Urban Spaceman /

4. Recorded: 1968-07-08. First Broadcast: 21 July 1968. Repeated: 18 August 1968

  • Young Girl / Beautiful Zelda / Captain Coo1 / My Pink Half Of The Drainpipe / 11 Moustachioed Daughers / Can Blue Men Sing The Whites (first broadcast on 18 August 1968 repeat)

5. Recorded: 1968-10-08. First Broadcast: 20 October 1968. Repeated: 01 December 1968

  • Shirt / I’m The Urban Spaceman Baby / The Bride Stripped Bare ‘by The Bachelors’ / Excerpt From 'Brain Opera' / Ready Mades (E’s Mad Deary) (first broadcast on 01 December 1968 repeat)

6. Recorded: 1969-03-31. First Broadcast: 13 April 1969. Repeated 11 May 1969.

  • Look At Me I'm Wonderful / Mr. Apollo / Quiet Talks And Summer Walks / Excerpt From 'Brain Opera' Pt.3

7. Recorded: 1969-07-29. First Broadcast: 03 August 1969. Repeated: 25 October 1969, 14 August 1982 (Peel’s Pleasures show).

  • We're Going To Bring It On Home / Monster Mash / Sofa Head / Tent

Other Shows Played

The following list is compiled only from the database of this site and is certainly incomplete. Please add further information if known.

  • 01 May 1992: Slush (LP-Let's Make Up And Be Friendly) United Artists
  • 21 May 1993: Tent (LP - Keynsham) Liberty
  • 02 June 1995: Do The Trouser Press (CD-Unpeeled) Strange Fruit </span>
  • 03 June 1995: Canyons Of Your Mind (CD-Unpeeled) Strange Fruit) (JP: "Recorded for this programme or their predecessors in 1968....You can imagine the fuss that there was! Questions in the House, I think. Well, perhaps not quite that, but not far short of it, for somebody burping on the radio in those days.")
  • 24 June 1995 (BFBS): Tent (CD-Unpeeled) Strange Fruit)
  • 04 April 1996: Canyons Of Your Mind (album -Four Bonzo Dog Originals) EMI 7243 8 34423 2 4
  • 13 April 1999: I'm Going To Bring A Watermelon To My Girl Tonight (v/a LP: By Jingo It's... British Rubbish) Hux
  • 23 April 1999 (BBC World Service): I’m Gonna Bring A Watermelon To My Girl Tonight (v/a album - By Jingo It’s British Rubbish) Hux
  • 16 September 1999: Slush (LP – Let's Make Up And Be Friendly) Sunset
  • 04 November 1999: Canyons Of Your Mind (Peelenium 1968)

See Also

External Links

  1. See this message from the Peel Mailing List.
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