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January 29 , 2009

Ginger Geezer: The Life of Vivian Stanshall


The extraordinary story of Vivian Stanshall, lead singer of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, true British eccentric. Charismatic and flamboyant, Vivian Stanshall was a natural frontman for The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. The eccentric group who satirised trad jazz, pop and rock, reached Number five with ‘I’m The Urban Spaceman’ in 1968. A punishing schedule of tours and television followed, including work with the future Monty Python team. The following year, broke and burned out, the Bonzos split up, leaving behind a loyal cult following. Vivian launched into myriad solo projects in music, film and theatre, giving himself several nervous breakdowns in the process. His comic masterpiece, ‘Sir Henry at Rawlinson End’, was heard in radio, on an album, and then hit the big screen. Vivian wrote the musical ‘Stinkfoot’, was narrator on ‘Tubular Bells’ and provided lyrics for Steve Winwood. In person, he was just as multi-faceted, by turns the erudite artist and the truculent Teddy Boy, breathtakingly rude. A powerful figure, tall, red-haired and never less than extravagant in his fashion, Vivian Stanshall was a hell-raiser of legendary reputation – ably assisted through much of the 1970s by Who drummer Keith Moon. Vivian drove the many who loved him to the limit, struggling with terrible tranquilliser and alcohol dependency. He died at home in a house fire in 1995. The story of his turbulent life is utterly compelling.
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