An Interview With Silky Longfellow Stanshall
Geoffrey: What’s the first thing you remember about your father?
Silky Stanshall: I remember taking a bath with him and him showing me his butt-operation hole.
Geoffrey: What kind of father do you remember him being as a little girl?
Silky: He was a father that was actually like one of my friends. He was like a little kid with me. We had a lot of fun together. We played together.
Geoffrey: Did he play music around you? What was that like?
Silky: Yeah. It was normal for me.
Geoffrey: The way he dressed. Did you think he was crazy? We you embarrassed?
Silky: No, no. I wasn’t around when he dressed crazy in frog suits and stuff. I was around when he was beautifully dressed. I always thought he was a very posh man. I loved the way he looked. I loved his clothes. I loved his style.
Geoffrey: You’ve heard most of the Bonzo stuff, what do you think of it?
Silky: I think it’s lots of fun. I don’t consider it my father’s true talent, but I consider it a big part of his life and a big part of mine because I think it’s lots of fun. I like to listen to it and I’m proud that he’s my father. I like to play it to my friends.
Geoffrey: What do you think your father’s true talent was?
Silky: His painting. His painting was his true art, his true passion. That’s what he loved.
Geoffrey: How do you feel about your father’s lifelong battle with drugs and alcohol?
Silky: It affected my life, because I didn’t have the chance to have the kind of father a little girl needs growing up. But the way I see it for him it was a way to escape his fears. He was very scared of being all he could be. The alcohol and the drugs came in and took those fears away from him. But if wasn’t drinking and talking drugs throughout his life he would have accomplished more. There was so much more inside of him that alcohol just got in the way of.
Geoffrey: You are the 50% owner of the copyrights to all of Vivian’s material. What would you see done in the future for the work that he did?
Silky: Just that it’s taken care of. If there is a person that would like to produce an album of my father’s stuff, I would just like to see that it is done right and that it compliments him in the best way. I’ll back up 100% the person who wants to do that as long as I think that person can do that.
Geoffrey: Why do you think people think so highly of your father?
Silky: Because he was an amazing man. He was a genius. He was funny. Because people see my father and they see what they would like to be in him.
Geoffrey: What was the best thing about your father to you?
Silky: His storytelling. I loved the way he told stories to me. He would do all the voices differently. I could see it like a movie in my head.
Geoffrey: What was the worst thing about your father?
Silky: His weaknesses and his fears and his alcoholism getting in the way of having a family with me and my mom. Getting in the way of accomplishing what he should have done and letting him die before his time.
Geoffrey: When he spoke to you on the phone toward the end of his life, what was he trying to convey to you? Was he chitchatting or was he trying to make you understand it all?
Silky: When he spoke to my mom before he died that’s what he did with her [make her understand]. But I didn’t really get a chance to talk with my dad before he died because I didn’t he was going to die so I didn’t want to talk to him because I was use to having so many bad experiences on the phone with him because he could never really admit anything he did wrong. But I guess toward the end of his life he totally admitted everything, although I wasn’t there to hear it.
Geoffrey: Did you know the other members of the Bonzo Dog band at all?
Silky: I met them all, I think, but I don’t remember them. I know Neil a little bit, I know Roger a little bit and that’s about it. They’ve all been in my life and we’ve all seen each other, but I was little and it wasn’t a big deal in that part of my life.
Geoffrey: What kind of responsibilities do you feel for preserving your father’s work?
Silky: I think it’s my responsibility and my duty to get his work out and known because nobody else is going to do it. As his daughter and as the owner of all of that stuff with my brother. He deserves more. He deserves to have his artwork shown. His music has already been out there but his artwork needs to be out.
Geoffrey: What sort of wish do you think your father would have for you and your future?
Silky: Just to be happy. I know I have a lot of expectations for my mother and my father but since he’s dead, he’s probably a lot more wiser now and wouldn’t wish me to do anything that would make me unhappy. Whatever it was I did, he would hope I’m happy and content.
Geoffrey: What part of you is like him?
Silky: Everything. I’ve got his hair, except I’ve got it on top of my head, too. I’ve got his skin, his freckles. I’ve got his body structure. I’ve got his cheekbones. I’ve got his vulgar comedy, his humor. I’ve got a lot of talents from the musical aspect of it. I can draw. I can sing. I’m a combination of my mother and my father so watch out everybody.
Geoffrey: When you’re at school do people understand that your father was a real talented guy?
Silky: Only my close friends. Nobody else does. And I don’t care if they do or no because they’re just teenagers, they’re not worth it. One day, my mom and dad went and had a picnic. I think it was on the heath. I’m not sure, but it was in London. I wanted to play but I was wearing a nice shirt. So he got a plastic bag and cut some arm holes and a head hole and I walked around in a big plastic bag the rest of the day. I remember when mom, dad and I used to go for walks through London. Mom and I used to be behind and he used to be way in front because he has these great big long legs. He would take the longest strides in the whole entire world. He would walk so fast. So mom and I used to walk around like we were on our own, but he was up there somewhere up in front. My dad and I used to go out to Indian restaurant all the time and eat tandori chicken and papadums and we used to call it “smelly food”. He used to drink “monster juice,” turn into a monster and chase me around the house. So did my brother.
Geoffrey: How did you get along with your brother?
Silky: When I was little and my brother was still around, we got along great. Then he went away and I didn’t see him for a very long time. When my dad died, that was the first time we’d seen each other for how many years. We get along pretty good..
Geoffrey: How do you feel your father felt about your mother?
Silky: He loved her, still loves her and will always love her. Their love is so strong it goes beyond life. They couldn’t live together because it was a lover-hate relationship. If they lived together that means he would have to face responsibility. That means he would have to grow up and stop being the way he was. So he was completely scared to be with her but when they were apart, nothing could really break their bond. Not water, not miles, nothing.
Geoffrey: Were you angry at him for not being around?
Silky: Yeah, I guess I was but I was used to it, you know. If he was around, I would probably have more problems today because he died while still drinking, so obviously he was never going to change. So, if I lived with him throughout his whole life, I would have an alcoholic father around me all the time. Especially him, that’s not good. I think it was best I was raised by just my mom.
Geoffrey: When you heard your father had died, what did this do to you?
Silky: You know what, I’m still in denial. I still think someday he’s going to call up and say, “Hey, it was all a big mistake. I’ve been in Spain with my mafia. I’m a made man.” I really do think he’s going to call. I always had the knowledge that I could call him at any time of the day or night collect and he’d always answer the phone, and always be there for me and I don’t have that anymore. I’m still in denial. I still don’t belief he’s gone because I haven’t gone through grief yet. I cried. The very first second I found out, I screamed and cried like it broke my heart. But I haven’t gone through the grief. I can still feel it inside of me when I talk about it. I can feel it choke up but I can’t let it out because I haven’t accepted it.