The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band’s Neil Innes says he didn’t want the band to reunite in 2006, because he felt they had no future without late frontman Vivian Stanshall.
But he allowed himself to be persuaded – and the result was another two years of music, their first album since 1972, and the continued growth of their fanbase 19 years after Stanshall’s death.
Innes is currently touring the UK with The Rutles, created as a parody of the Beatles alongside Monty Python member Eric Idle.
He tells MusicRadar: “There was a reunion on 2006 and that was 40 years since the first single, My Brother Marks The Noises For The Talkies. I was against it at first – how are you going to replace Vivian? You can’t.
“But they said, ‘Some people would like to try.’ I said, ‘Who?’ Well, Stephen Fry, Adrian Edmondson, they all came and they were word-perfect. We can’t do Vivian, but we can enjoy the songs.”
Innes recalls the Bonzos’ rise to fame in the 1960s after they started out trying to present an alternative to the pub jazz bands popular at the time. “We worked for five years without a holiday and we bought off three managers – so we must have been doing quite well,” he observes.
“Rick Wakeman pointed out the other day that the Bonzos were the first band to go over £200 a night without being in the charts. We were one of the top-paid bands in the country; it was on reputation alone.
“Of course, when we did have a hit record it was even more – in a way we became the kind of thing we were sending up.”
The surviving members of the Monty Python team recently announced what’s likely to be their last-ever shows together. But Innes doesn’t think he’ll be invited to rejoin the troupe.
He says: “I think some of the others would like me doing it, but Eric Idle is in charge. He’s got dancers and a band – you don’t really need an idiot with a duck on his head and a piano.
“Eric’s gone all showbusiness. It fills me with horror, to be honest; I remember the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games, and I hope it’s not going to be like that.”
Remaining Rutles tour dates
May 21: Birmingham Town Hall
May 22: London O2 Islington Academy
May 23: Farnham Maltings
May 24: Bridport Electric Palace
May 25: Swansea Garage
May 28: Clitheroe Grand
May 29: Manchester RNCM Theatre
May 30: Glasgow O2 ABC2
May 31: Liverpool O2 Academy 2