Roger Ruskin Spear – The Forgotten Bonzo

The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. That’s Spear on the left.

Most biographies of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band seem to champion the two most well-known alumni of this groundbreaking British ensemble (you can’t really call them a rock group) of the 1960s. Neil Innes went on to fame and fortune for his work with Monty Python and for his role in the Rutles mockumentary and records. Vivian Stanshall produced a few notable albums post-Bonzos, and since he was the lead vocalist and a prolific songwriter, he grabbed much of the spotlight when the band was in its heyday. The Bonzos appeared in the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine Magical Mystery Tour film performing their song “Death Cab For Cutie,” which is where most people first heard of them.

Roger Ruskin Spear is all but forgotten, even by many of those who count themselves fans of the Bonzos, but he wrote and produced two notable solo albums and has been involved in countless musical projects up to the present day.

Again wikipedia comes to the rescue of the lazy (such as I):

Spear is best known as a former member of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band. He wrote some of their wittiest songs such as ‘Shirt’, ‘Tubas in the Moonlight’ and ‘Trouser Press’.He is also well known for his robot creations,that graced the stage with the Bonzos, creating much hilarity and havoc. He is also famed for his virtuosity on the theremin leg – in ‘Noises for the Leg’, amongst other tunes. Many of his songs have clothing/wardrobe related themes, such as ‘Trouser Freak’, ‘Trouble with my Trousers’ and ‘Waiting for the ‘Wardrobe’, as well as the aforementioned ‘Shirt’ and ‘Trouser Press’. It is not known why. Roger was once quoted as saying, “Trousers. Trousers. It’s such a stumbling word. In America they have pants and jeans, but in England we still have trousers”.

I have recently digitized my vinyl copy of Spear’s 1972 Electric Shocks album in its entirety. Here is a track called “Patrick Moore,” which seems fairly standard until near the end, when aliens make a sudden appearance, which makes me happy.

Roger Ruskin Spear: “Patrick Moore”

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4 Comments

Filed under 1960s, Comedy

4 responses to “Roger Ruskin Spear – The Forgotten Bonzo

  1. You’re back! Woo hoo! Believe me, I know the horror of computer mishaps. Anyway. Yes, I was quite surprised when I came across a vinyl copy of this record some years ago – had no idea Mr. Ruskin Spear had done any solo stuff. Very underrated chap, the George Harrison of the Bonzos, you might say. Gotta love the “Telstar” references in this tune.

    • spacebrother

      Hey Senor Fab,

      Yes I’ve been back online for about a week or so. Just had to go through the process of finding a server and setting things up by myself, which was a learning experience, and took for f’ing ever.

      I can’t hope to match your expertise, but I am combing through my old vinyl, cassettes, etc. for more. When would you like to set up another show?

  2. you’re welcome. no biggie in the slightest. know what you SHOULD do? digitize your beta copy of little shop. you know, with the real ending? in color? my vhs ate the fuck out of the copy that i got offa you (that was a pretty dark night) and, as far as i know you’re the only person in the entire world that owns the summabitch. be a balsy guy, dude. monstro geeks might not know it but theys be waiting for it.

  3. Mister Apollo

    A small but significant point: “Death Cab For Cutie” appears in the Beatles’ film “The Magical Mystery Tour”, not “Yellow Submarine”. In the same film you can also see the extraordinary and, alas, late Ivor Cutler, who very much deserves to be more widely known.

    The song “Death Cab For Cutie” is considered by some to be one of the proofs that Paul McCartney is secretly dead, because it’s about people dying in a car-crash, just as he supposedly did. Also, Paul (or rather, his replacement) is not one of the Beatles watching the Bonzos performing the song, further signifying his absence, and that the song involves him. It has to be admitted that, as one of the few Bonzos songs that isn’t the slightest bit funny, and is actually rather grim, it’s on odd choice for them to perform in such a wacky movie.

    By the way, there’s an incredibly convoluted and totally bonkers theory that Paul’s stand-in, one Phil Ackril, for some reason also pretended to be Vivian Stanshall, who never existed at all – so in addition to Paul’s survival, Viv’s death was faked too, presumably because pretending to be two famous people at once was getting to be a bit much for poor old Phil. However, it does neatly explain why Paul McCartney couldn’t watch the Bonzos perform “Death Cab For Cutie”.

    It’s all rather confusing, really… Anyway, details (rather a lot of them, in no particular order) can be found here:

    http://digilander.libero.it/p_truth/

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