The Bonzos, of course, were pound for pound the funniest satirical rock band ever seen or heard by sentient mammalian eyes and ears, and don't give me any of that The Mothers or The Tubes or whoever shit 'cause I don't want to hear it.
Anyway, shortly thereafter I got an e-mail from my old pal Gregory Fleeman, still pound for pound the funniest serious satirical rock songwriter ever seen or heard blah blah blah.
Turns out Greg had his own encounter with the Bonzos back in the day, and I thought I'd share it with you, as it's fascinating on several historical levels.
In 1969, I was a freshman at American University, and as my extracurricular activity I worked at the college radio station -- WAMU, or as we referred to it,“W A M All Over U.” That kind of thing passed for wit in my younger days.
The best word I can use to describe WAMU is “retrograde”. The station manager was REALLY into Steve and Eydie, Al Martino, etc. This was, what, 2 years after the Summer of Love, which clearly did not affect AU at all -- I was required to wear a Freshman Beanie for Rush Week (which lasted about 45 seconds on my particular calendar…) Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that I was considered quite the freak at the radio station, being into things like The Bonzos or Randy Newman or The Beatles. Also, stealing records from the radio station that no one else played became the basis of my record collection.
At some point, I somehow found out that the Bonzos were going to play the Fillmore East, so I decided to make my debut as a “rock journalist.” I had no fucking idea what to do, so I just called up Liberty Records and told the receptionist that I was a disc jockey in Washington, DC, and I would like to interview the Bonzo Dog Band, if you please. She said, “One moment please,” and the next thing I knew I was connected to someone in the publicity department –- someone who clearly had nothing better to do than sit around waiting for assholes like me to call. The guy said sure, you can go see the Bonzos, and in no short order I had tickets to two shows AND BACKSTAGE PASSES for the upcoming Fillmore East dates.
I had no idea it was that easy.
I borrowed a tape recorder from the music department (without their knowledge), hitchhiked to NYC and eventually found myself backstage interviewing my idols. Wow, Vivian Stanshall and Neil Innes are talking to ME! (Of course, in retrospect, nobody else was back there interviewing them –- clearly, the PR guy had found them a bit of a hard sell.) Anyway, they were very pleasant and funny and we made arrangements to continue the interview at their hotel on Sunday. When I got there on Sunday, they all seemed sort of depressed. I asked them why they were so sad, and there was an awkward silence. Finally, Vivian Stanshall replied, “Well, we just broke up, you see.” I could only think, “This is an amazing scoop. I am the first “journalist” with this astonishing news, AND I HAVE NO ONE TO TELL IT TO." Rather sad, that.
I think they did one or two more contractual gigs, and then they went home.
One sort of amusing postscript: This was the first time The Kinks had played NYC in years (having been banned by the Musicians Union for whatever reason) and at one point, while walking around backstage with my little tape recorder, I accidentally wandered into The Kinks dressing room, and found myself face to face with…Ray Davies! I was rather stunned at this turn of events. I said to Mr. Davies, “May I interview you?” He graciously agreed. It was only then that I realized that I was so starstruck at meeting Ray Davies that I had NO FUCKING IDEA WHAT TO ASK HIM. I stammered a bit and finally coughed up that hoary old standby, the sine qua non of lame rock interview questions, “Who would you say are your biggest influences?”
Ray paused, smiled gently,said “I think Mick Avory can answer that,” and then got up and left the room.
I still find that funny.
Me too, Greg, me too.
And as another hopefully equally amusing postscript, please enjoy this fan video for the Bonzo's hilarious "The Intro and the Outro."
Digging General DeGaulle on accordion...!!!