Viv Stanshall (1943-1995) was the frontman of the Bonzo Dog Band and creator of Sir Henry At Rawlinson End. The latter, released as an album and film, was developed over a series of Peel sessions, many of them produced by John Walters, who Peel credited with patiently bringing the best out of a sometimes difficult performer. Walters also worked on Radio Flashes, hosted by Stanshall, which replaced Peel's show on Radio One when the DJ was on holiday in August 1971. In Zigzag 24 (1972), Walters talked about working with Stanshall:
I didn't realise what I was letting myself in for at the time; it finished up with him as a kind of Don Quixote figure, making wild schemes and tilting at windmills left right and centre, always rushing in where angels fear to tread, yet seeing the least criticism as a sabre slash. I was the Sancho Panza to him at the same time - I was jogging along on a mule behind, desperately trying to keep him out of trouble and get us through....There were times when you'd be waiting for him, and he'd come in and start writing the script, and he didn't understand that we didn't have time for that, that he should have come in with the script ready. He'd say things like "Well never mind, it's the last show then, then you can tell me what you really think of me"....The show did wear me out a great deal, and I came out of it feeling that I'd achieved something just getting through it. For example, if there was supposed to be an elephant walking about in a certain sketch, Viv would actually want an elephant there in the studio. Eventually the shows ended, and they were evidently highly successful with some people, in the same way that Monty Python and the Goons are successful. I felt that it was the first real radio I'd done, with effects, signature tunes, perspectives, put together like good old fashioned radio, like Dick Barton. That was the high spot of my career.....
Following Stanshall's early death, Peel wrote in the Guardian (1995-03-11):
I admired Viv's wit, imagination and lunatic sang-froid so much there were times when I would have wished to be him. ... He was, on his day, the funniest man in Britain. ... He was a great man and it has been our good fortune to catch some of the echoes of this greatness.
Festive Fifty Entries
- 12 sessions (details below from Ken Garner's The Peel Sessions, p. 333, and the Viv Stanshall Radio Flashes site). No known commercial release, although material was adapted for Rawlinson End releases. Peel (09 April 2002): "John Walters always wanted Viv Stanshall to release the things that he did for these programmes on record. But Viv being Viv always wanted to go away and re-record them, and also being Viv, never got very far with the project, which is a pity."
- See also Bonzo Dog Band, Freaks.
- Cyborg Signal / Blind Date / Eleven Moustachioed Daughters / The Strain
- Trail Of The Lonesome Pine / The Unbridled Suite/In The Final Analysis / Aunt Florrie Remembers (from 'Giant Welks At Rawlinson End')
- Christmas At Rawlinson End Pt 1 / Pt 2 / Pt 3 / Pt 4: including Aunt Florrie Recalls / Convivial Vivisectionists / The Party's Over / Uncle Otto / Roar of the End / A Half for Chuck
- Part 34: An Absence Of Welks / Aunt Florie Recalls / Dan / Nice And Tidy
- Part 35: Spades Balls And Sausage Trees, including Wheelbarrow / Aunt Florrie Recalls
- The Roads To Unreason Pt 37: including Aunt Florrie Recalls / Three Vivisectionists / Mrs Radcliffe
- Florrie's Waltz / Fool And Bladder / Interlewd / Smeeton
- Rawlinson End (Part 37) - Cabbage Looking In Mufti: including Ginger Geyser / Socks / Strip Me A Pinky / Fresh Faced Boys / Aunt Florrie Piece In Toto
9. Recorded: 1979-12-11. First broadcast: 24 December 1979. Repeated: none
- Gooseflesh Steps Pt 1: including Cracks Are Showing / Swelter / End Roar / Cums
- The Crackpot At The End Of The Rainbow: including Florrie's Waltz / Under The Sea / In The Pipes / Murder Living Next Door / Private Rhythms / In The Pipes (Reprise) / Cackling Gas / Florrie's Waltz / Under The Sea
- The Eating At Rawlinson End
- Cackling Gas Capers: including Octavio / Tour De Farce / Achmedillo / Peristaltic Waves
Other Shows Played
- 14 February 1970: Paper Round (single) Liberty
- 19 October 1978: 'Junglebunny/The Beasht Inside/Rawlinson & Maynards/Papadumb (LP-Sir Henry At Rawlinson End)' (Charisma)
- 13 November 1978: 6/8 Hoodoo / Smeeton / Fool & Bladder / Endroar (album - Sir Henry At Rawlinson End) Charisma CAS 1139
- 08 May 1979: Rawlinson End, Part 1 (LP – Sir Henry At Rawlinson End) Charisma
- 15 September 1980: Terry Keeps His Clips On (7") Charisma
- 20 September 1980 (BFBS): Terry Keeps His Clips On (7") Charisma
- 21 April 1981: Suspicion (7") Fly BUG-4
- 30 July 1984: Suspicion (7") Fly BUG-4
- 04 April 1990 (& Big Boys): (There's) No Room To Rhumba In A Sports Car (2x Compilation CD-The Last Temptation Of Elvis) New Musical Express
- 28 April 1990 (BFBS) (& Big Boys): (There's) No Room To Rhumba In A Sports Car (2x Compilation CD-The Last Temptation Of Elvis) New Musical Express
- 19 May 1990 (BFBS) (Peel 144 (BFBS)) (& Big Boys): (There's) No Room To Rhumba In A Sports Car (2x Compilation CD-The Last Temptation Of Elvis) New Musical Express
- 22 June 1991: Terry Keeps His Clips On (album - Teddy Boys Don't Knit) Charisma CASCD 1153
- 25 November 1994: Suspicion (album - History Of The Bonzos) United Artists UAD 60071
- 03 December 1994 (BFBS): Suspicion (album - History Of The Bonzos) United Artists UAD 60071
(Please add any missing info)
- Bonzo Dog Band
- Neil Innes
- Monty Python
- 10 March 1995 - Peel pays tribute on his show.
- Diamond Geezer - Peel introduces TV tribute broadcast of Stanshall's Crank show (transcription of Peel tribute here).
- The Canyons Of His Mind Vivian Stanshall - Peel talks about the man in a 2004 BBC Four documentary.