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Ginger Geezer: The Life of Vivian Stanshall Paperback – 4 Oct 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; New Ed edition (4 Oct. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841156795
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841156798
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 81,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

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.

Review

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 Stanshall

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The life of Bonzo Dog Doh dah band singer Vivian Stanshall.
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
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A wonderful book about talented soul Vivian Stanshall, who wrote, performed, drank, loved, alienated, confused, entertained and kept turtles. Yep, a complex guy with a gift for charm and originality. This book gets to the man behind the sequins and insightfully explains his humaness. It is researched well and does a fine job of explaining the process behind much of Vivian's art and many of his ventures are described in interesting detail, quoting family, friends and those who worked (or tried to) with him. Vivian comes across as a sensitive man who struggled to accept his own talent- this is a shame as he made the world colourful. This is a great book which I was reluctent to buy as I didn't want the disapointment of a hero being circus-ified. This book does much to explore the Stanshall reality and does not glorify, or disrespect- it just gets involved and helps me to know this man more whilst giving me much to laugh about.
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Format: Hardcover
This is not so much a biography as a chronologically organised selection of Vivian Stanshall anecdotes - and nothing wrong with that, when all the anecdotes are as inspired, manic and hilarious as this.
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.
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Format: Paperback
Curious to see that many of the reviews here think that this book tries to diminish Viv Stanshall by presenting him as the eventual alcoholic, shambling, mentally squished tragedy that he became. This facet of the man can't be washed over or ignored, and perhaps forms the cornerstone on which to hang everything else - great creativity and an incredible talent for both making fun songs and projects, and for self-destruction; an incredible capacity to care for the person most of interest to him (himself) at the expense of everyone else; and the contradiction of wanting to be admired and loved, while not being 'famous'. We do get a linear narrative which I thought was well-written - laugh out loud in places, heartbreaking in others. Vivian was a mess for most of his life but left us with an incredible amount of music, art, and concepts which boomeranged away from the rest of us. How can you not love someone like that?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Bonzo Dog Band were a British group that performed during the Psychedelic Sixties and were a mad amalgamation of old English Music Hall, trad jazz, psych pop with heavy Dada and Surrealism influences. At its heart was a die-hard eccentric named Vivian Stanshall, a sort of rock version of Gully Jimson, who lived on a houseboat and feverishly created an endless stream of outrageous songs, plays, poetry and graphics. “Ginger Geezer” is his story and reads like some great unknown Alec Guinness comedy.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very sad book to read, when you realise that it depicts the gradual unwinding of Vivian Stanshall's mind.He can be placed alongside all the other great British comic geniuses, such as Sellers,Milligan,Bentine, Everett etc.etc.Without them British comedy would be in a very sad state, as they seem to have set the template for everyone else to follow.Their skewed views of our 'society' have done so much to enliven and ameliorate our daily lives that life would be very humdrum without them.Not forgetting Monty P................
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