Day 37, No. 37. Vivian Stanshall

Viv Stanshall HAIRCUT 100: Day 37, No. 37. Vivian Stanshall (1943–1995): Singer/songwriter, musician, author, poet, eccentric, and ginger geezer; founder member of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, and author of the radio series, book, film and album sequence Sir Henry at Rawlinson End, a surreal exploration of the English class system: ‘English as tuppence, changing yet changeless as canal water, nestling in green nowhere, armoured and effete, bold flag-bearer, lotus-fed Miss Havishambling opsimath and eremite, feudal still, reactionary Rawlinson End.’ The Bonzos combined a jazz and big band sound with rock ’n’ roll, psychedelia and sixties Britpop. They possessed an anarchic, dadaist sensibility, and were the resident band on the kid’s TV show Do Not Adjust Your Set, a forerunner of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. They also appeared in the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour, in which Stanshall can be seen descending a staircase in a ball gown and sequins singing ‘Death Cab for Cutie.’ In the seventies, post-Bonzo, Stanshall contributed to numerous musical projects, most notably Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, and Robert Calvert’s Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters, also beginning a long run reading Rawlinson’s End on John Peel’s show on BBC Radio One. I was very lucky to see this wonderful man on stage at the Norwich Waterfront in 1990. He died when an electrical fire broke out as he slept in his flat in Muswell Hill. Last year, a crowd-funded memorial plaque was unveiled by his wife and daughter in the Poet’s Corner of Golders Green Crematorium, opposite that of his close friend, drinking buddy and fellow trickster, Keith Moon.

In the canyons of your mind,

I will wander through your brain.

To the ventricles of your heart, my dear,

I’m in love with you again!

’Cross the mountains of your chest,

I will stick a Union Jack

To the forest of your cheek,

Through the holes in your string vest.

My darling, in my cardboard-coloured dreams,

Once again I hear your laugh,

And I kiss, yes, I kiss your perfumed hair:

The sweet essence of giraffe.

And each time I hear your name,

Oh, ma-ma! How it hurts

In the wardrobe of my soul,

In the section labelled ‘shirts.’

Please click here for Day 38

Viv stanshall in concert poster
This is the poster I had off the wall when I saw Viv on stage in 1990 at The Waterfront, Norwich

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