- Album This song officially appears on the I'm The Urban Spaceman / Canyons Of Your Mind 7" Single.
This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions
March 1968 ?
Spring 1992 • From Club Sandwich
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“I’m the Urban Spaceman” was the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band’s most successful single, released in 1968. It reached #5 in the UK charts. The song was written by Neil Innes and produced by Paul McCartney and Gus Dudgeon under the pseudonym “Apollo C. Vermouth”. The B-side was written by Vivian Stanshall. Innes won an Ivor Novello Award in 1968 for writing “I’m the Urban Spaceman”.
A well-known staging of the song involves Innes performing solo while a female tap dancer performs an enthusiastic but apparently under-rehearsed routine around him. This skit originally appeared in a 1975 edition of Rutland Weekend Television, with Lyn Ashley as the dancer, and was more famously revived in the 1982 film Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl with Carol Cleveland taking over the role.
Leeds indie rock band Cud performed an extremely fast version (1:07 long) for a 1989 Peel Session. The recording appears on their albums Elvis Belt and BB Cudn’t C.
When Neil wrote it, I didn’t particularly see much in it. We got the demos down when we were staying in a cottage in Devon – this sounds nice and Trafficy. […] We played it a hell of a lot and I got to quite like it. It’s a nice happy song, I can see that it looks frightfully contrived and commercial. Does it? I know it’s not satirical or highly pointed.Vivian Stanshall, leader of Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band – From New Musical Express, December 7, 1968
I originally met Viv in the London club days, out and about on the town. We used to have drinks and a laugh together and he was a lovely, funny man. He was in The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, which I saw live on stage at the Saville Theatre a couple of times when Brian Epstein promoted shows there. They were very eccentric — sort of modern yet very old-fashioned — following on from bands like the Temperance Seven. Then I phoned Viv and asked if the Bonzos would be in Magical Mystery Tour with us. They did the scene with the stripper that we filmed in Paul Raymond’s Revuebar and I think they had a pretty good time, playing while the woman took off her clothes. So Viv became a very good friend and I used to visit him at his house — I remember that he had an aquarium with turtles, at which we used to sit and wonder! Then he asked me to produce their next single ‘I’m The Urban Spaceman’, which I did at Chappell Studios. I went down there, met the guys, and Viv had a length of brightly-coloured plastic piping which made a noise when he swirled it around his head. That was to be his contribution. We chatted a while and then I produced the record. He suggested that I be credited as “Apollo C Vermouth”, which indeed I am, still, to this day. It turned out to be the Bonzos only hit, although hit singles is not what they were about anyway. I’ll always remember Viv and Keith Moon being a sort of double act, the two of them playing very, very posh English gentleman. They did have their crazy side, of course, but whenever I saw them together they were perfect gentlemen. They did a joint Radio 1 show, which I heard while driving up to Scotland and was the inspiration for Oobu Joobu. Over the following years Viv and I would see each other, on and off, at functions, but I gradually lost touch with him, so it was with particular sadness that I heard he had died. He was a wonderful man and he’ll be much missed.Paul McCartney, 1995
Last updated on September 28, 2021
Officially appears on
7" Single • Released in 1968
LP • Released in 1969
Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.