Gus had wanted to do a cover of "Springtime for Hitler" for some time as he was a great fan of the Mel Brooks film. Gus & Phil sat down and discussed who to approach for the project, and they both came up with the idea of asking Legs Larry Smith of The Bonzo Dog Band. Gus had already been involved in the production of two Bonzo albums, "A Doughnut in Granny's Greenhouse" and "Tadpoles" and knew the members of the band well.
click for more When Legs Larry was approached he confirmed that he too had been thinking of the same project, and so he readily accepted and went on to develop three more tracks based on what could be expected in the stage musical within the film; "Der Fuehrerburger", Eva Braun New Girl", and "Mountain Boy". This musical he named "Call Me ADOLF!" and will hopefully be staged one day.
A considerable amount of marketing was spent on these tracks before they were cancelled, and included an unconfirmed rumour of a pink tank being driven down Oxford Street to publicise the project.
Legs Larry was rehearsing these tracks nearby at Bray Studios with Adam Francis when Ted Fletcher, the designer of Adam's "Alice" mixing console phoned and asked if he could show some customers around. Ted duly arrived with these customers who all happened to be German, and not knowing what Legs Larry was working on asked if they could play a multitrack back. The tape on the machine was Springtime and was played back to the surprised Germans who eventually saw the funny side of it. Legs Larry did not help by adopting a fake German accent throughout it all.
Sadly the Springtime track was unreleased as the record company involved (Arista) was worried that it would be seen as anti-semitic . As Gus mentioned in response, "The film was made by three good Jewish boys - Mel Brooks, Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder so they were obviously happy it wasn't anti-semitic". (There was however a rise in the popularity of the National Front movement around this time in London and Arista must have been wary of being linked to this by releasing the tracks.)
Mel Brooks himself is quoted as saying "It's been one of my lifelong jobs - to make the world laugh at Adolf Hitler".
Louis Wolfson (himself a child of Jewish immigrants) who put up half the money for the film is quoted as saying 'Oh good, this is getting back at Hitler. You can't bring dictators down on a soapbox with rhetoric. But if you can make people LAUGH at them, you've won.'
Many thanks to Legs Larry Smith for sending the two attached documents - a letter describing the history of the tracks, and an image of his original artwork for the single.
Click on either of the images to see larger readable versions.
The four lower tracks were all recorded at The Mill, produced by Gus Dudgeon and engineered by Phil Dunne.
(Some years later I was the technical support engineer with Sony for the (then) new digital PCM-3324 multitrack tape machine and working on sessions at CBS Studios in London. The choir master came back into the control room to listen to the playback, was very impressed with the digital recording and afterwards came out with the comment " I haven't heard voices sound that good since we did Springtime for Hitler at The Mill", which is quite a compliment to all concerned with these sessions at The Mill.)
The first track is a copy of the original film version, used to transcribe for the cover version.
|Reel 74 tk1||Springtime for Hitler (original)||2:35s|
The following tracks were written and recorded at The Mill Studios:
|RD tape||Springtime for Hitler (Legs Larry Smith)||3:52s|
|RD tape||Der Fuehrerburger||2:44s|
|RD tape||Eva Braun New Girl||3:03s|
|RD tape||Mountain Boy||2:54s|
The complete duration of each track is shown, however all playable samples have been edited to 30 seconds in length.