With the very sad and shocking news of the passing of Neil Innes, co-founder of the legendary Bonzo Dog Band, as well as being considered an honorary member of Monty Python as well as the brains behind The Rutles along with countless other collaborations, 2019 is going down as one of the bad years for music – and seemingly the shock and sadness had to have one last swipe before 2020 came in.
But tonight it’s Neil Innes and his work with The Bonzo Dog Band, a band that defied description, but achieved major cult status over their relatively short period of existence. Originally put together as a take-off on the 20’s craze in the 60’s, and known as the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, they quickly morphed into more of an art=school band run amok and replaced the Doo-Dah with Da-Da and eventually just became known as The Bonzo Dog Band.
Though they may not be familiar to some today, you might hear aspects of them via Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which shared the involvement of Neil Innes and Vivian Stanshall, the Bonzo’s co-founders and musical brains behind the Pythons.
Tonight it’s some of the sessions the band did for the BBC during the 1968 and 1969 period. Because they were so popular in England they appeared often on some of the major BBC Radio programs, so a lot of their live material has survived in one form or another.
A singer, pianist and guitarist, Neil wrote the Bonzos’ jaunty hit single I’m the Urban Spaceman, produced by Paul McCartney, which peaked at No 5 in the UK charts in 1968 and won the composer an Ivor Novello award. He also coined the phrase Cool Britannia, which became a mantra for the Labour party when Tony Blair was prime minister, much to Neil’s mild dismay. He thought its political use was decidedly uncool.
Here’s what’s on the player:
1. Tent – (Top Gear – July 29, 1969)
2. Hello Mabel (Saturday Club – October 29, 1968)
3. Look Out There’s A Monster Coming – (Symonds On Sunday – March 1969)
4. Canyons Of Your Mind (Colour Me Pop – December 21, 1968)
One of the very, very good ones who will be sadly and profoundly missed.