I tuned in to my new found radio home ( www.manchesterradioonline.com) because radio honcho man Paul Ripley had uttered the words ‘Guess who’s on my show? ‘ And the guess who was none other than the Martian Spider himself Woody Woodmansey. All of a sudden I was working while I was listening to the radio and I thought I’d discovered multi tasking. I was wrong, I stopped and I listened. Radio heaven, a spider talking about the web he lived in and not a tweet in sight (sic).
It’s hard to believe that Ziggy celebrates his 38th year anniversary this year and they are still not teaching it at schools, even worse why isn’t it a case study at music schools, business schools, everywhere! Paul started proceedings with ‘Five Years’ from the Hunky Dory album, well that was it. I downed tools and gloriously fell back in time, I was at The Hardrock (no please, no burger references, it wasn’t that one) and I was rammed close up front and personal and gazing forward at what still remains one of the greatest concerts of my life. Not of course that I’ve been to many….It was September 1972, Saturday 2nd to be exact and I went back the next night to see them again. And again in December, he played that same venue four times that year. And yes I did.
That song took me back to my college years and when I first heard it. I had just bought Ziggy Stardust and was thrilled to bits. I had just also starting dating a ‘college cutie’ I think we call them now, back then she was just a chick. I think we’d been for a drink, maybe a movie and then it was back to listen to records until God knows what hour until I’d hitch home. You did these things back then, it was the norm for teenagers like us. Can you imaging even thinking of doing that now, never mind hitching home but just the mere thought of listening to a record !
Anyway she pulled out Hunky Dory and stuck on Five Years, and then initiated me with the rest of the album. That was it, I never left and were married six years later. Why wouldn’t you marry a girl with a record collection like that, Marie I thank you! Oh and for our two beautiful children but let’s face it Bowie came first.
Back to the show. Woody was an unassuming character, happy with his lot today yet proud and very grateful for what he’d had. Well who wouldn’t be, there was only him and three others after all. It was fascinating to hear someone other than Bowie talking about that period and especially from where he was standing, behind the man and driving home a relentless beat. What a seat! He spoke of how he got the gig and also about the late Mick Ronson, never a forgotten hero to me and many others. I can see him now with his glam pants and mad hair, and that iconic rock pose with Bowie sliding under his legs and dragging the solo out of him. Bowie loved him and although Mick was a wonderful guitar player Woody said he never saw himself like that. Bowie would ask him to play a solo and then tell the producer, ‘keep it’ although Mick thought he needed to go back and do it over and over again. When you’re that good you’re good first time round.
Woody also talked of those wondrous eccentricities that are David Bowie. How he would ‘mess about,’ pick up an accordion that was lying around and tell the producer Ken Scott, ‘record this.’ The band would sit around and watch all this going on thinking, why is he pissing about, let’s get on with it. Then it would be played around with in creative , innovative ways with his producer and himself and they’d look at each other and say, ‘how the hell did he get it sound like that?’ And it would end up on the album and the rest indeed is history.
Great stories makes great radio and this was great in itself. Good questions that came over like any fan would ask and a responsive totally normal guy telling it like it was. It could have gone on forever, I’m first in line to request a repeat. Get him back and roll the tape once more. It gives you hope and brings back your faith in radio once more. Bring it on.
Thank you for the days,
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me.
I’m thinking of the days,
I won’t forget a single day, believe me.
Ray Davies 1968