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Is Viv There?

Stuart Bailie | 17:11 UK time, Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Here's a photo of myself and the bearded contrarian, Vivian Stanshall. It was taken at the Borderline club on Tottenham Court Road, London, 1990. The NME had just released a charity album called 'The Last Temptation Of Elvis' featuring cover versions of Presley songs. The record launch had encouraged people to get up and to perform tunes made famous by the big guy. Pretty soon I was on that stage, perhaps encouraged by a refreshing drink. I sang 'Return To Sender' and a few moments later I was joined by an NME colleague, Terry Staunton. And then there was an altercation at the back and this major buffoon in a kaftan crashed the party.


Vivian had earned his reputation with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, performing surreal songs in a tea party style. 'Jollity Farm' was their big tune, but Viv also dabbled in art, writing, hung out with Keith Moon and was a formidable raconteur. That's his voice you hear on Mike Oldfield's 'Tubular Bells'.

Anyway, Viv made a few animal noises onstage at the Borderline and then hurled himself into an appreciative crowd. I never met him again. He died five years later in a fire at this north London home.

I mention all this because there's a live event tonight at the MAC in Belfast, curated by Duke Special. Three Bonzos And A Piano are in town to revive some of that vintage Viv panache. Altogether, it's a good programme for the week, with the Duke also booking The Blockheads, Cathy Davey, The Futureheads and the mighty DJ78, who will be in the foyer tonight, busy with the gramophone decks.

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