Currently viewing the tag: "David Bowie"

David Bowie landed on this planet sixty five years ago. What better way to return to the world of blogging, wake up and smell the space age coffee of one man so far ahead of the pack and in a class of his own.

At the beginning of the month I was invited to open a series of tribute concerts to honor David Bowie’s birthday. A cornucopia of bands all doing covers of their favorite Bowie songs culminating with local Tampa Bay heroes Barely Pink finishing off the show with Ziggy Stardust in it’s entirety. As I prepared my talk I became excited at rediscovering just how David Bowie’s influence on me then was just as strong now. I was older and I could understand, I had something to compare Ziggy Stardust to…but I couldn’t. There just isn’t anything that touches it for it’s originality, it’s danger and it’s utter razzmatazz.

When I grew up rock music was about rebels, it was about excitement and creating mayhem. It was something your mother would never like and your father would cast stones at. We were never meant to grow up this way, rebels don’t fit, they never will but they never want to anyway. They do it their way, they are the misfits of society and they change people lives. I didn’t have age on my side then, I just embraced it for what it was. At eighteen I was smitten, forty years later I haven’t seen anything fit to lace those iconic red boots. Ziggy changed our lives in a way no other ever will. I almost feel qualified to pass judgement, I loved him as a fan but had no idea my entire life would be surrounded by rock, pop and everything in between. I’d no idea my job was to become my hobby. I’ve seen literally thousands of acts pass along the decades of my life but nothing compares. I have never been rocked in a way that makes me think anyone could roll Bowie away.

I’ve been lucky all my life. Back in 1972 I was blessed beyond belief by witnessing one of the greatest stories rock has ever told, the birth, adolescence and death of the magnificent Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.  At the time I was 18 and already way too excited with rock music and the many delights it had already brought me. I’d experienced Hendrix, got dazed and confused  with Led Zeppelin and meddled with The Pink Floyd. David Bowie was different.

Bowie had been around a while but was never one to be content with obscurity. He was never the type to be content with second best. He never had any doubts, he knew he was destined for stardom but wanted it on his own terms. He had actually said he’d be a millionaire by the time he was thirty and he was. David Bowie is influenced by the books he reads, the pictures he paints and the music he makes. David Bowie was always a genius, always pushing out ,the epitome of a rock star. Music afforded him his every indulgence. He just about invented the word.

Ziggy Stardust  changed the way we looked at rock stars and how we listened to music. It grabbed you buy the throat, it forced you to pay attention. At the time of Ziggy’s birth, Bowie was nobody. He’d been around for years and apart from Space Oddity being a hit, everything else he’d put his mind to had failed. When David Bowie’s alter ego first set foot onstage he was the complete star way before we made him one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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