A very special gig at Ruislip.
A chance to get up close, personal, meet and greet some of the legends that are......The Bonzos
‘Our heroes!’ Stephen Fry & Adrian Edmonson
‘the undisputed heavyweights of comedy pop’ Robert Spellman, Daily Express
‘increasingly legendary!’ threeweeks
"I'll be skint if you don't all come" Philip, Tropic
A Glastonbury'10 show, a sell-out Barbican gig with Ian Hunter & The Rant Band, another sell out at Brighton Komedia and UCL Bloomsbury Theatre pulled 499 & standing ovations.
The Bonzos have appeared with members of Monty Python, The
Beatles, Eric Clapton, The Kinks and The Who as well as
having a Top 5 hit with Urban Spaceman.
The band is the musical missing link between The Goons and Monty Python. Indeed, in 1967/8/9, they featured as the house band on Do Not Adjust Your Set, a fore-runner of Monty Python, with Michael Palin, Eric Idle and Terry Jones, as well as a young David Jason. Their humour was highly influential.
Comedians Stephen Fry, Adrian Edmondson, Eddie Izzard, Chris Morris and Bill Bailey have all named the Bonzos as a formative influence. Vivian Stanshall's legacy is heartily celebrated by the Three Bonzos.
and occasional guest artistes
Visit the band's web site
by reserving your ticket in advance NOW.
Just make a note of the gig date and click here.
Go to Tropic At Ruislip home page
The Joy of Essex (212) by Martin Newell
“Things may come and things may go but the art school dance goes on forever.” Pete Brown
THREE BONZOS AND A PIANO
Age shall not weary them... Last weekend I went to University of Essex Lakeside Theatre to watch three founder members of the Bonzo Dog Band in show called Three Bonzos and A Piano. Percussionist Sam Spoons and the sax players Roger Ruskin Spear and Rodney Slater are now cantering nimbly around in their late sixties. With the help of Dave Glasson, their piano player, and the veteran Liverpool Scene guitarist, Andy Roberts, they perform a two-part, two hour show of musical comedy. You would be better off seeing it yourself, rather than me wasting column inches attempting to describe it. An almost full house – many of us of a certain age – watched with a mixture of hilarity and disbelief as five fit old geezers scampered their way down a musical by-way pretty much untrodden this past 30 years. If you get a chance to see this show, go and do so because I promise you, there is absolutely nothing else on the circuit like it.
The stage explosions of yesteryear fell victim to Health & Safety, long ago of course, but there are still Roger Spear's unreliable robots, the gadgets, the gags and best of all, some terrific musicianship on offer. With the Bonzos during their maytime, you were never really sure if they were great musicians deliberately playing sloppily, or inspired improvers punching above their musical weight. Whatever the truth back then, the chaps are certainly at the top of their game now.
Like so many of their 1960s contemporaries – Lennon, Clapton and Townshend for instance – the members of the Bonzos came into pop music via the London art schools. Interestingly, two of the original band also had Essex roots. The late Vivian Stanshall grew up in Westcliff, while Neil Innes – although his family moved away from the county – was born in Danbury.
The Bonzos, who honed their talents on the pub and cabaret circuit, came to national notice in the late 1960s, just as pop was beginning to take itself rather too seriously. Somewhere along the way, pop groups stopped writing ingenious songs about meeting girlfriends at rainy bus stops and began instead devising concepts and epics. Suddenly everyone wanted to be Stravinsky. On a 1967 song by Traffic, for example, Hole In My Shoe, a musical interlude occurs and a little girl's voice is heard saying: “We climbed on the back of a giant eagle and flew through a crack in the clouds, to a place where happiness reigned all the year round and music played ever so loudly.”
The Bonzos reinterpreted this in their own fashion. Over the same piece of music, Bonzos vocalist, Vivian Stanshall intones poshly:“In September of 1937, I bought my wife a new electric iron. She's still using it to this very day and it's never needed repair.” In the grim and great-coated early days of prog rock, a skeptical few of us found this sort of thing endlessly funny. The Bonzos served as a safety valve in a musical engine rapidly beginning to overheat on its own self-importance.
And yet, nobody liked the band more than the very people whom they were lampooning – their fellow musicians. The Beatles and Eric Clapton for instance, loved them. The Bonzos were invited to appear in The Beatles film, Magical Mystery Tour. Clapton's supergroup, Cream, had the Bonzos as special guests at a Saville Theatre showcase. The Who's Keith Moon and Vivian Stanshall became best mates and co-conspirators in a number of infamous pranks – one of which involved dressing in Nazi uniforms and attempting to get served in a famous London bierkeller. Bonzos drummer, Legs Larry Smith actually moved in with George Harrison at one point: “His concierge...” a wry Rodney Slater laughed when I asked him about it.
Soon, the Bonzos were signed to Liberty Records. They also performed each week on a cult TV series called Do Not Adjust Your Set, alongside Pythons-in-waiting: Idle, Palin and Jones – as well as a young David Jason. By the end of 1968 they'd scored a top five single, Urban Spaceman, produced by Paul McCartney. Rock's own jester troupe were now famous in their own right. Rodney Slater, assured me that behind the scenes, there'd been a woeful lack of organisation. Was it fun, though? I enquired. The sax-player peered at me over his spectacles:“It was like being handed the keys to the wine cellar, a pharmacy and a young women's dormitory all at the same time – and that's all I'm saying, okay?”
When they went to America in 1968, various hitches caused them to have to hang around for two weeks, until they could get to play. They met Jimi Hendrix in New York. “Too stoned to speak.” Slater recalls. No surprises there, then. When I asked Mr Slater what the peak of it all was for him, again, he replied, “Being able to do more or less what you wanted for eight years, to get handsomely paid for it, to see the world for nothing, and hopefully leave a little bit of light around.” A perfect answer, really. The three Bonzos – Slater, Spear and Spoons – along with their two mates, are now touring sporadically – and it seems, mainly for the fun of it. It's enough to keep them musically supple but not so much that it would burn them out. They have a new songs too. One is called Old Geezer Rock. Age shall not weary them, indeed. www.threebonzosandapiano.co.uk
Back to top