Album:Easy Listening Gold: 1966-1967
This goofy novelty song was a number one hit in 1966. The New Vaudeville Band started out as a recording studio creation and was turned into a band when Winchester Cathedral became a hit. The man behind The New Vaudeville Band was British songwriter and producer Geoff Stephens. He was part of a group of songwriters that had a lot of success like Roger Greenaway, Mitch Murray, Les Reed and others. Stephens started out writing musical revues and this led to him appearing on the BBC Radio show Monday Night At Home. Then he got into music and co-wrote the 1964 hit Tell Me When for The Applejacks. He also produced Donovan's debut album What's Bin Did and What's Bin Hid. Stephens was fond of the music of the 20s and he decided to write and record Winchester Cathedral. John Carter of The Ivy league sang the song through his hands so it would sound like he was using a megaphone a la Rudy Vallee. Fontana Records released it and Winchester Cathedral topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966. And of course there was also an album. But there was no band as Stephens used studio musicians. He tried to get a real band The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band to be The New Vaudeville Band but they turned him down. But he did form a band featuring singer Alan Klein. They released a second album and the single Peek-A-Boo charted. And The New Vaudeville Band appeared in the 1968 film The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom starring Shirley Maclaine. Then the novelty wore off and the band split up. You can get Winchester Cathedral on this 2CD various artists comp from Time Life. Trumpeter Bob Kerr started Bob Kerr's Whoopee Band to continue the music of The New Vaudeville Band and they still perform today. Geoff Stephens has written songs like the 1967 Herman's Hermits hit There's A Kind Of Hush and the 1974 Carol Douglas hit Doctor's Orders. In recent years he has worked on stage musicals like Bonnie and Clyde in 2005. Here's The New Vaudeville Band performing Winchester Cathedral on The Hollywood Palace 1966.