Vivian Stanshall | Artist

Vivian Stanshall | Artist

Tags: Era_1960s, Gender_Male, Genre_Art_Rock, Genre_Comedy, Origin_UK, Type_Artist

Victor Anthony "Vivian" Stanshall was an English singer-songwriter, musician, author, poet and wit born 1943 in Oxford, UK. He is best known for his work with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, for his exploration of the British upper classes in Sir Henry at Rawlinson End, and for acting as Master of Ceremonies on Mike Oldfield's album Tubular Bells. Stanshall studied at Walthamstow College of Art, where he met fellow students musician Ian Dury and film director Peter Greenaway. To pay his way through art school he earned money doing various odd jobs at the Kursaal fun fair in Southend-on-Sea, including working as a bingo caller and painting the fairground attractions. Stanshall formed The Bonzo's in 1962 whilst still a student at The Royal College of Art in London. They broke up in 1972 partly because of Stanshall's growing stage fright, which in later years worsened into anxiety disorder. In 1974 Stanshall released his first solo single "Labio-Dental Fricative/Paper Round" and debut album Men Opening Umbrellas Ahead, with support from the Who's Keith Moon and John Entwistle. The work's darkly comic lyrics detailed Stanshall's alcoholism and troubled emotional state, laced with surreal poetic imagery and literary references. His second album, 1978's Sir Henry at Rawlinson End is regarded by critics to be his best comedic recorded work. He recorded only two more albums and the single "The Young Ones", the old Cliff Richard standard, delivered in the style of Boris Karloff. During this time Stanshall and his wife Pamela 'Ki' Longfellow were living on The Searchlight, a houseboat bought from Denny Laine (Moody Blues, Wings) and kept moored on the River Thames. He lived on The Searchlight from 1977 to 1983, and recorded and produced the second 'Sir Henry' album on it during a period of debilitating physical illness. His untimely death in 1995 at age 51 cut short a brilliant career which included performance sketches, radio broadcasts, stage plays and poetry, as well as his solo, band and collaboration work. Stanshall was found dead on the morning of 6 March 1995, after an electrical fire had broken out as he slept in his top-floor flat in Muswell Hill, north London. He was a great friend of many in the Music and Arts world including John Peel and Keith Moon, and was described by fellow Bonzo Neil Innes as "a national treasure". In 2001, Music journalist Chris Welch wrote a biography titled Ginger Geezer: The Life of Vivian Stanshall. In the same year, Stephen Fry, who was also a friend of Stanshall's, produced a documentary about him for BBC Radio 4. Outstanding albums include Men Opening Umbrellas Ahead (1970), Sir Henry at Rawlinson End (1978), Teddy Boys Don't Knit (1981) and Sir Henry at Ndidi's Kraal (1984), and of course his work with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.

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Featured Albums: Vivian Stanshall

Related Artists: Bonzo Dog Band, Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Mike Oldfield

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