Vivian Stanshall was an eccentric pioneer that pushed boundaries in music, comedy, poetry and art and won a legion of fans, including John Peel in the process.
In the mid-1960s he led the group Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, who caused a stir on the college rock circuit and had a Top 10 hit in 1968 with 'I'm the Urban Spaceman'. The Bozo band split in 1970. With the encouragement of John Peel, Vivian developed the idea of the eccentric English aristocrat Sir Henry Rawlinson, who was later to achieve a full flowering in the 1980 film, Sir Henry at Rawlinson End. Sir Henry's philosophy was, "If I had all the money I'd spent on drink I'd spend it all on drink."
When Peel went on holidays he asked Vivian to stand in for him. Vivian launched his alter-ego character, Sir Henry on Peel's Top Gear show and it was so successful with listeners that he was asked to continue the skit when Peel returned from holidays.
John said of Vivian: "I could never really think of anything to say when I'd played one of his pieces on the radio, and would end up, rather feebly, with something along the lines of 'I fear that a single one of Viv's thoughts would blow my damn brains out.'"