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VIVIAN STANSHALL and "LEGS" LARRY SMITH


GEOFFREY: How did the Bonzos' appearance as the house band in The Magical Mystery Tour come about?

VIVIAN STANSHALL: Brian Epstein used o own a place called the Saville Theatre, and Paul and John used to sneak in occasionally to see us, because we supported Cream a couple of times and the Beegees. Yes, I think The Magical Mystery Tour was just dropped on us. Paul suddenly phoned up and said, "Do you fancy it?"

"LEGS" LARRY SMITH: We were doing a week's cabaret in somewhere wonderful like Darlington, which is up in the north of England, and our roadie came rushing back from the telephone and said, "You're not going to believe this." It was an almost definate confirmation that we'd gotten the Mystery Tour. The Beatles had personally invited us to perform.

STANSHALL: Someone nicked all our instruments, though, didn't they, from outside that alley, don't you remember? All the saxes went, your kit went, we had to hire everything to do the film.

SMITH: It was pretty rushed, because, as I said, we were doing a week in Darlington. And believe it or not, the manager we had at the time was wondering whether we could get out of doing the gig, if I recall. We got Gene Pitney, as he was flying over.

GEOFFREY: You must have been personal favorites of the Beatles, or you wouldn't have been asked.

SMITH: Surely, yeah. That's very nice to know.

GEOFFREY: Were you around on the bus with them and all that?

STANSHALL: Oh no, we just did that one bit, and it was finito. Then they had that ruddy great party whenever the hell it was, where they all -

SMITH: At the Lancaster Hotel.

STANSHALL: Oh, we had a great jam that night, didn't we? God, I wish we had it on tape.

GEOFFREY: Who was involved?

STANSHALL: Well, I was up on stage with Lennon doing vocals "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," "Long Tall Sally,"yo know, all the oldies. We screamed our heads off. Who was on the kit? Must have been Ringo, I should think, and Klaus Voorman playing bass.

SMITH: George got up and blew some saxophone.

STANSHALL: That's right. By god, it was a great row!

SMITH: I remember going out in the lobby and overhearing Lulu speaking on the phone: "Hello Mother? I'm in London having a great time. I just can't come home yet. I'm with the Beatles!" For me the most wonderful costume event of the evening was George Martin and his wife storming the cocktail area as Prince Phillip and the Queen. For a moment everyone thought, "Can it really be them?" I mean, they just looked so right.

GEOFFREY: Tell me how Paul got involved in producing the band.

STANSHALL: Well, they wouldn't let him back into Poland. Actually I was more chummy with John myself, riding around in that absurd psychedelic Rolls of his. I think I just phoned Paul up and said, "Look, I think we could do with a hit record." So, he said, "What have you got?" And so we sent him over some stuff, and when he heard "Urban Spaceman" he said, "That's the one. I'll come and do it, you fix up the studio," and he came down and we did it. Just to put us at our ease, he sat down and said, "I've just knocked this song off, what do you think of it?" and he played us "Hey Jude." So I said it was all right, apart from the verse!

SMITH: And I told him religion will never be a hit. You can't write about that! Anyway, we worked really efficiently, it was quite nice. We did the whole thing in about five hours. I don't know why he wanted to be called Apollo C. Vermouth on the record, though.

STANSHALL: That was my idea. I didn't want the thing to sell on his name alone. It was nothing to do with anything contractual on his side, he was quite happy to have it out there with his name on it, but I just didn't think that would be a fair measure.

GEOFFREY: Do you know he put out a few tunes under the name of Bernard Webb? He also penned several songs for other artists that Epstein had under assumed names, just to see if they would sell on their own or if everything was just selling because he was Paul McCartney. And he had a big number-one hit. Tell me about this relationship with Lennon.

STANSHALL: There's not a lot to tell, really. Just the absurd anomalies of the time. We'd wind up at the Speakeasy or some other godawful club, get sloshed, and he'd say, "Want a ride home, wack?" I'd say, "Okay, John," so he'd drop me off in my crabby basement in Islington that I was rat-hunchbacked in, and he'd he in his Rolls full of birds and things and just drive off!

SMITH: And I'd have been up two hours worrying where he's been all night.

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