Bonzo Dog Band's Lancashire link
The 60s group that mixed music and madness are heading north – bringing a Lancashire lad home with them
With a repertoire which included My Pink Half of the Drainpipe and Mr Slater’s Parrot, the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band didn’t just turn 60s pop on its head, it pushed a custard pie in its face and then beat it around the head with a wet haddock.
Three original members, Roger Ruskin Spear, Sam Spoons and Rodney Slater are back on the road as Three Bonzos and a Piano. And the piano is Accrington-born, Lytham-raised David (‘My mum and dad would be so proud to see me in Lancashire Life’) Glasson.
Tell us about your Lancashire roots. I come from Accrington and I lived with my parents, Ted and Dorothy Glasson, in Clarendon Street. I went to Benjamin Hargreaves Primary and Accrington Grammar.
How did you end up in Lytham? Dad was an aircraft engineer working on the Canberra and the English Electric Lightning but he was transferred to Warton, where he ended up in charge of production. We moved to Knightsbridge Close and I went to Kirkham Grammar. My sister, Christine, still lives in Lytham.
Where did music come in? I could read music from being eight. I was in the church choir at St Cuthbert’s in Lytham and all became assistant organist.
One of your first public performances? I was a member of the Lytham Amateur Operatic Society and I can remember appearing at the Lowther Pavilion in Maid of the Mountains.
- 1 WIN a holiday to the Isles of Scilly worth £1000
- 2 Win a 2 night beach stay at The Beachcroft Hotel in Sussex
- 3 20 of the best places to eat out in St Ives
- 4 23 cottages that will make you want to move to Surrey
- 5 WIN £500 worth of preloved designer clothes
- 6 6 waterfall walks in Derbyshire and the Peak District
- 7 20 of the best restaurants in Hertfordshire
- 8 8 charming market towns you need to visit in Somerset
- 9 9 lovely beaches in Cornwall that allow dogs all-year-round
- 10 Win a luxury break at The Draycott Hotel in Chelsea
What made you move away? I got a place at Trinity College of Music in London and grew my hair. In fact, when I came home to Lytham during the holidays people would stop in the street and stare. My dad constantly told me to get a haircut.
Why switch from classical to jazz? After college I was desperate not to teach. A group called the Spencer Washboard Kings was going on a tour of Scandinavia and needed a pianist. I was the only one who turned up for the audition.
How did it turn out? They sent me to a ragtime piano expert for the day and I picked up a few tips. I was pretty useless and told them to put the speakers in front of me so people couldn’t see me struggling. But I picked it up quickly and when we got back we did lots of radio with Jimmy Young and Pete Murray.
Then you joined Bob Kerr’s Whoopee Band. Yes, Bob was one of the original Bonzos but left to join the New Vaudeville Band before forming the Whoopee Band. I joined and we appeared on TV and toured Europe for 11 years.
After making Whoopee, you had a spell on TV. Yes, I formed a group called Tatty Ollity with former Bonzos Roger Ruskin Spear, Sam Spoons and Dave Knight, who has since died. We appeared every week playing on Channel 4’s first ever comedy programme.
Then you did the one thing you never wanted to do. Yes, the money wasn’t great and I am a family man with wife Christine and children Sam and Charlotte - now both freelance musicians. I became a full-time music teacher at a secondary modern in Hove. It was pretty awful but eventually it was merged and I suddenly had kids who wanted to learn music. I’d always wanted to have a really big band so I created one with the kids.
What tempted you out of retirement? The Bonzos had a reunion which was hugely popular. As the singer Viv Stanshall had died, the concerts involved comedians Paul Merton, Ade Edmondson, Phill Jupitus and Stephen Fry. The band toured for a while and then fizzled out as Neil Innes didn’t want to continue. We decided to get three of the originals together and me on piano to form Three Bonzos and a Piano. It’s great fun.
Now you are coming home. I don’t get back so much any more so I’m looking forward to playing in Morecambe and seeing some of my old haunts. We’ll be doing the old standards minus those written by Neil and some new songs that reflect the angst of our age - songs like Senior Moments and Old Geezer Rock.
Do you have groupies? Well, we do have a great following. The concerts are pretty chaotic - it’s the antidote to anything you might see on the X-Factor. Roger is still a great inventor and there are robots on stage and he does some very strange things with legs…
Three Bonzos and a Piano are due to play The Platform in Morecambe on November 20. They also have a new cd called Hair of the Dog