Monday, 7 August 2017

Q & A with "Legs" Larry Smith

"Legs"Larry Smith is best known for being the wonderful drummer of the legendary Bonzo Dog Band. In 1967 The Bonzos appeared with The Beatles in the film Magical Mystery Tour and on the TV show Do Not Adjust Your Set with members of Monty Python. The Bonzo's single I'm The Urban Spaceman was a top five hit in 1968. After The Bonzo's went their separate ways Larry went onto work with Elton John, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and John Cale. The Bonzo's reformed in 2006 and a year later released a 28 track album of new material called Pour l'Amour des Chiens. Yesterday Harry Pye pleaded with Larry to do a fun size interview via e-mail. Now read on...
Harry: "I tend to play Bonzo records when I need cheering up.Could you list a few things that make you happy? Are there any records you put on, old films you re-watch or books you re-read? Larry: "When I’m not dancing with the arts or being a Daddy to my darling twin girls Rebecca and Delphie – my passion is Horse Racing. Re films: George and I would watch Mel Brooks; ‘The Producers’ most every night over at Friar Park – but may I suggest a movie that seems to have slipped under the net? ‘Walk Hard’ – quite breathlessly funny, brilliant."
Harry: How is your health these days? Will you ever be able to perform the Wilbury Twist again? Larry: "My health is fine, thank you. I’m looking younger each day – thanks to coconut oil and 2-stroke petrol. A girl arrives to do my feet every couple of weeks. She files, trims, shapes, moisturises and massages – (and that’s just my eyebrows). Seriously, feet are important – a gracious and noble path to all the senses."
Harry: Your lead vocals on Let’s All Go To Mary’s House was one of the highlights of The Bonzo album released in 2007.Do you sing in the shower? Do you find singing seems to help a troubled soul? Larry: "I sing in the shower – but generally it’s to attract the attention of my Mexican maid – ChickitaRyvitaSleepsweeterBournvita®,(she always knows where the soap is). But frankly, I talk in the shower. Much more fun."
Harry: "I love “Legs Larry at Television Centre” what can you tell me about John Cale? The Bonzos and The Velvets were releasing albums at the same time – do you remember how you became aware of him or your first meeting? Larry: "John also produced a version of ‘Springtime For Hitler’ – which further endeared me to him. We had dinner in Amsterdam a couple of years back but he seemed somewhat ‘distant’. He’s a melancholy boy. He married my ex-girlfriend Miss Cynderella from the GTO’s. I recall Moon and I drove a somewhat serious and dare I say ‘normal’ Lou Reed out to Heathrow airport and bunged him on a plane to the States. Then, good Lordy – a couple of years later he arrives back in England as the ‘Ultra-COOL’ (‘Walk on the Wild side’) Lou Reed. A change of image, of wardrobe, of style – and why not? I’m currently dressed as: ‘A Garden Shed’ – (Caban de jardin) and drinking a fairly boisterous weed-killer – I’m hoping that ‘Homebase’ will sponsor me for the Book Tour.PS. We didn’t pick him up (Lou Reed) from the airport."
Harry: David Hockney shares your passion for digital art. Do you think the work Hockney makes now using his i-pad is as interesting as the paintings he made on canvas in the 60s and 70s? Larry: "Nope. He’s a good draughtsman – which is rare these days,but I find his current work flat and predictable."
Harry: Rodney Slater has raised the money to record and release his first ever solo album (Parrots Parrotopia) do you keep up to date with what your Bonzo chums are up to and listen to their new stuff? Larry: "I guess that we catch-up when we Tour, which is great fun, but generally my ears are not for sale."
Harry: Has your autobiography been completed or are there still a few final touches needed? Has writing your memoirs been a happy experience? Larry: "I think it’s complete; it’s now in the hands of my literary agent. When it meets a publisher – who knows what will happen. I like to imagine a couple of boardroom brawls. However, closely following the memoirs I have a film project which might well set the business on-fire. In closing, to have written my memoirs has been a joy. To write is a joy."
Harry: What’s the best bit of drumming you did that got recorded? Who are your percussionist heroes? Larry: "My drum-break in ‘Jazz Delicious Hot – Disgusting Cold’. Heroes of the dreaded drums? Has to be Moon and Buddy Rich. They’re both what I call ‘fiddly drummers’ – maybe they overiced the cake. They jumped about wildly but they always got back inside – on the beat, or very slightly ahead (of the beat). For we must never be bad to the beat."
Harry: In 1982 George Harrison released “Gone Troppo” but didn’t tour or do any promotion for it. When he asked you to make artwork for the album did you get the feeling he’d had enough of showbiz or that he felt he had nothing to prove? Larry: "I was thrilled when George asked me to design the ‘Gone Troppo’ project – the album cover, the songbook and a poster or two. He loved and admired my artwork and we had a couple of rare painting classes atop one of the towers at Friar Park.But the bonk on the head was his song for me: ‘His Name is “Legs” Ladies and Gentlemen.’ And the fun we always had in the studio. Maybe George was a trifle ‘Troppo’ at the time (Troppo being an Australian term for ‘crazy’ – or mildly bonkers) he fell under a lot of pressure; it was a constant state of affairs."
Harry: What do you think about Shirts? Do you think they are still necessary? Larry: "A crisp white shirt (event) worn with a beautiful girl underneath, (with just an occasional glimpse of her silk undies) is a heavenly sight to see, officer. But ‘The Shirt Event’ – is one of my favourites. A piece of recording history. How dear Gus managed to pull the faders and press those devilish buttons as the song unfolded is a mystery – for we were all rolling about the studio floor and peeing our pants, as Vivian grabbed those darling passers-by. It was set in a mild London, a caring London. A London that has sadly vanished. (Sob!)"
(The song Shirts appears on The Bonzo Dog Band's Tadpoles album produced by Gus Dudgeon for E.M.I records)
For more info on Larry and his forthcoming autobiography contact:

1 comment:

  1. I promise not to be flat and predictable Harry xxx lovely to see you today .... xxx