Ginger Geezer: The Life of Vivian Stanshall Paperback – 4 Oct 2010
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Vivian Stanshall, artist, musician, comic, broadcaster and all-round oddball, was a genuine English eccentric. Lucian Welsh and Chris Randall's Ginger Geezer: The Life of Vivian Stanshall is an attempt to unravel the tragic story of this enigmatic and idiosyncratic man. Stanshall, blessed with a forest of red hair, an excess of energy and an urge to shock, formed the Bonzo Dog Band just after art school. The band, who began life as a humorous trad jazz combo, evolved into the perfect vehicle for his many talents. Combining the best elements of cabaret, jazz, rock, performance art and musical hall comedy, the Bonzos gained critical acclaim and commercial success. The pressures of touring and the usual personal differences caused the band to implode at the end of the 1960s. Although they reformed intermittently, Stanshall never produced a consistent body of work again. Flashes of brilliance did occur: solo albums, a comic radio masterpiece Sir Henry at Rawlinson's End (later unsuccessfully filmed) and several songs co-written with Stevie Winwood all bear witness to this. Unfortunately alcohol, valium and his own mercurial nature prevented him from realising his full potential. Much of the 1970s were spent in a haze, often creating questionable drunken mayhem with fellow boozer Keith Moon of the Who--the pair once paraded through Soho dressed as Nazis.
His dulcet tones however, were much in demand. Eloquently described here by friend and admirer Stephen Fry as "a Dundee Cake of a voice, astoundingly deep, rich and fruity", Stanshall graced Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells and the Damned's Lovely Money. In later life voiceover and advertising work provided him (briefly) with a lucrative income. Vivian was never able to stay of the bottle for long and the offers slowly dried up. With friends and family alarmed by his drinking, Stanshall sought the company of street drinkers near his Muswell Hill flat. These new friends robbed him of many of his prize possessions and enjoyed drinking at his expense. In 1995, after one such session he died in a fire at his home. Randall and Welsh clearly love Stanshall but their book never quite gets to grip with their flamboyant subject. It is shoddily arranged--details are confused and there are many infuriating repetitions. Much of the writing is workmanlike at best. They seem torn between creating an oral history from the reminiscences of his many friends and writing a proper "authorial" biography. Despite this, in celebrating his unique genius they do succeed in reminding us what a sorry loss his premature departure was. --Travis Elborough --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
On Vivian Stanshall:
‘A unique and inspired comic genius.’ Stephen Fry
‘The one great comic talent British pop music has produced.’ Observer
‘I’m whatever you like, just don’t expect me to join in.’ Vivian StanshallSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
From his early life to his joining of an art school band the bonzos,his habit of kicking out band members he deemed as low class .His frustation at working and touring hard but not getting any money for his efforts (like his friends the beatles) the Breaking up the band at the end of the 60s due to nervous exhaustion and still owing the record company money.
Despite his characters flaws and his remarkable abilty to hurt those around him the book does make you feel genuinely sorry for the man spiralling slowy down the drain of life whilst others are powerless to stop him.A man who was friends with the beatles the monty pythons eric clapton captain beefheart and just about every other influential person in 60s culture ,but unlike them comes out of the decade with nothing but a personality disorder rather than millions in the bank.
Whilst im a huge fan of the man himself as a performer, it is hard to distinguish what bad behaviour is down to his mental health and addictions and what was down to him being a frequently unpleasant individual.
The authors also seem to embarrassingly over estimate his importance to the 20th century ,Whilst im a huge fan of viv and his comedy output his greatest tragedy is that his legacy isnt so much more.Im sure a critcal anaylsis of his legacy by non fan would say "just some novelty records and a failed stage show".
Perhaps his true legacy is that despite his failings and his self destructive ways there is no shortage of friends who praise him to the highest So He must have been doing something right
I can't remember a book which has made me laugh out loud so many times before. As well as the Stanshall stories there are also scattered comments from friends and admirers, and sharp criticism of his body of recorded work, as well as a lot of piranha stories.
All in all, it adds up to an affectionate but not biased look at this man who came up with so much inspired nonsense and, in the end, only wanted to live like a civilised human bean.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An enjoyable biography apart from the use of fraudulent psychiatric concepts like calling drinking "alcoholism" and despair "panic attacks."Published 2 months ago by G LEGGE
I used to love the Bonzos and think Vivian Stanshall brilliant. The trouble is this book is so endlessly dull and pedestrian that I think I'm cured. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Pete H
This book tries to capture the spirit of viv and of course fails. That aside it is probably the best biography we will get. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Richard
good service arrived on time & item arrived as described recomend to my friendsPublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
Heart wrenching account of self destruction....quite honestly surprised he lasted as long as he did.... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Glenn Showler