The cast

Oral histories




A little guy with a funny beard who's irredeemably funky, a multi-instrumentalist who wrote, played and sang a string of hit singles, an international sex symbol. It could be Prince, but actually it's Bill Oddie. (Apart from the sex symbol bit.) In a parallel universe at this very moment VH-1 is dedicating a whole month of broadcasting to Bill Oddie, one of the great survivors of 60s rock and the man who brought the jazz-funk fusions of Miles Davis and Parliament to a mass audience. Meanwhile, in the real world, videos of the best episodes of The Goodies are available from all good retailers.

On the TV series The Goodies were a three-piece, but when it came to the records Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden took a back seat and let Bill indulge his love and mastery of pop music. The result was a series of hits in 1974/75 that started with 'The Inbetweenies', a piss-take of glam, and included 'Nappy Love', a piss-take of teen-pop. Most successful of all was 'The Funky Gibbon', a record that hinges on a fantastic clavichord part by Dave Macrae (ex-Matching Mole) and that would - if it had been an instrumental - now be remembered as a classic bit of Britfunk.

These weren't Bill's first recordings. In the 60s he'd made some demos produced by George Martin and featuring the cream of the era's session-players, musicians like Mitch Mitchell and John Paul Jones. (If you've got any of this stuff, do share it with me.) He claims to be relieved that none of this was successful and that he found a more promising career in comedy. Certainly it was more fruitful - he wrote all the songs for the very wonderful radio series I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again, including a re-work of 'I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside' in the style of 'A Whiter Shade of Pale', and 'On Ilkley Moor Ba'tat' in the style of Joe Cocker's 'With A Little Help From My Friends'. The latter was subsequently recorded by Bill and most of The Grease Band (including Sunny) and released on John Peel's Dandelion label.

Oddie reckons he wrote more than a hundred songs for ISIRTA, but he had to wait for The Goodies' more mainstream appeal before he made the charts. 'People used to say: frustrated pop star,' he remembers, as he sits in a music room lined with his own silver discs and with posters of his musical hero, Prince. 'I'd say: "What's frustrated about it? I've had more bloody hits than you have." I certainly wasn't frustrated at all.'

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'It sounds like Parliament on a bad day'
the making of 'The Funky Gibbon'

Eddie Amoo
Ken Andrew
Dave Bartram
Mike Batt
Wayne Bickerton
David Blaylock
Trevor Bolder
Jacko Boogie
Tony Burrows
Sally Carr
Tina Charles
David Courtney
Rob Davis
Richard Dodd
Patrick Doonan
Ray Dorset
Herbie Flowers
Ken Gold
Graham Gouldman
Dave Hill
Harvey Hinsley
John Hughes
Jim Irvin
Jimmy James
Steve Jones
Lorraine Kelly
Paul Layton
Les McKeown
Russell Mael
Johnny Moore
Mike Moran
Chris Norman
Bill Oddie
David Paton
Lyn Paul
Phil Pickett
Suzi Quatro
Chris Rae
Chris Redburn
Norman Rogerson
Ron Roker
John Rossall
Andy Scott
Eddie Seago
Mat Snow
Chris Spedding
John Springate
Ray Stiles
Alwyn W Turner
David Van Day
Phil Wainman
Johnny Wakelin
Jeff Wayne
Alan Williams
Pip Williams