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There’s a life-size David Bowie pillow doll
08:05 am

Pop Culture

David Bowie
home decorating

If you ever wanted to eat an ice cream cone sitting on David Bowie’s lap… now is your chance! Proxy Shop on Etsy makes these life-size David Bowie pillow dolls for $400 + shipping.

The Lifesize David Bowie Pillow stands 66” tall and is the ultimate gift for a David Bowie fan’s home decor.

Sit this Bowie doll onto a daybed or sofa, against a wall as a soft sculpture artwork or on the floor as a makeshift chair.

Handcrafted from high quality printed fabric that is silky soft to the touch and backed with sturdy broadcloth, this tribute to David Bowie’s famous Ziggy Stardust costume design is an utterly unique addition to any Bowie fan’s home.

These life-size decorative pillows are all handcrafted and made to order.

Now can we have a Nick Cave pillow, please?



Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Professor vows to ‘spend a year as David Bowie’
06:27 am


David Bowie

Will Brooker, a professor of film and cultural studies at Kingston University, is going to write a book on David Bowie, and, in order to do it, intends to eat, sleep, and dress like the legendary rock and roll icon. In order to gain a better understanding of the musician over the more than 40 years of his magnificent career, Brooker will immerse himself in the trappings of the pop icon’s life in what has been dubbed “The Method,” a process of transformative immersion.

This unusual and arduous process will lead to a written account of the year-long experiment under the name “Forever Stardust.” Brooker’s areas of expertise include Alice in Wonderland and Batman. His most recent book is Hunting the Dark Knight: Twenty-First Century Batman.

Bowie was perhaps the first rock and roll celebrity who is renowned for rapid, chameleonic and experimental changes in his persona, which often inspired those in the fashion world—later musicians of this type include Madonna and Lady Gaga. It will be a challenge for Brooker to maintain so many identities in such a short time, although fortunately, as he got older, Bowie’s wardrobe became more conservative as well.

Indeed—not only his wardrobe! Bowie famously spent a good chunk of the 1970s abusing drugs and experimenting with the occult while living in Los Angeles around when Station to Station was recorded (an album Bowie does not remember recording).

As Brooker said recently on an interview on Australian radio,

I’ve been reading some of the books that Bowie read, though, and he was very much into the occult, Aleister Crowley, ah, Nazism—you know, all kinds of strange literature, and some of that reading does have an effect on your thinking, especially if you’re doing without sleep, long-distance flights, and so on, you know? If you’re reading some strange science-fiction and books about magic, you know, you can get into Bowie’s head, you can see and sometimes quite a strange place, a dangerous place, a place you wouldn’t want to live too long.

Brooker continued, “It’s fortunate that I’m going through Bowie’s career chronologically, because by ’83 he was pretty clean, so I’m kind of looking forward to that, I think I’ll get a tan, get fit.”

Brooker identifies as a David Bowie fan, of course, but—paradoxically, perhaps—not an obsessive one.


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
That time David Bowie mailed a pig fetus to a writer at Rolling Stone
07:47 am


David Bowie
Rolling Stone
Tin Machine

David Bowie
On a recent episode of Adam Carolla’s podcast, writer and Rolling Stone contributing editor David Wild revealed that David Bowie once sent him a most unusual gift.

“I was doing a story with David Bowie when he was in Tin Machine. This is early ‘90s. He was somehow there when I got a gift from Tom Petty, who sent me an Indian peace pipe. He [Bowie] goes, “I gotta get you a gift at the end of this piece?” I said, “No, no. You don’t have to do that.” He then went on tour with Tin Machine, and was somewhere in Asia, and he called and goes, “I just got you the perfect gift.” It was a pig fetus in glass. He sent this to me…. The border police, they absolutely shut it down, and it never got to me. But there were weeks and weeks of him checking in to see if a pig fetus had ever arrived. I personally was actually very glad it never came.”

So, apparently Bowie meant this offering to be a genuine “thank you”? It sure seems that way. How would you feel if David Bowie mailed you a pig fetus in glass? On one hand, it’s gross and weird, but on the other hand, you’d have a gift from David Bowie!! It’d sure make for an interesting conversation starter…
'Heroes' cover shoot
Below is a fan-shot video of Tin Machine from a concert held at Civic Hall in Wolverhampton, England on November 2nd, 1991. In the clip, the band is covering the Pixies number “Debaser,” which was part of their live set at the time, though they never released a recorded version of the tune. Perhaps the gruesome imagery conjured up by the lyric “slicing up eyeballs” was part of what endeared the song to Bowie.

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
Excerpts from the secret ‘autobiography’ David Bowie gave Cameron Crowe in the mid-‘70s: EXCLUSIVE
08:56 am


David Bowie
Rolling Stone
Cameron Crowe

Mid-1970s Bowie is my favorite Bowie. 1975-1976, living in the Los Feliz house of Glenn Hughes, bassist for Deep Purple. Bowie’s coked out and coked up, obsessed with the occult and given to paranoid delusions. Bowie consorting with witches. Bowie starring in Nicolas Roeg’s excellent The Man Who Fell to Earth and releasing Station to Station, perhaps his most scorchingly funky album and also, as it happens, my favorite of Bowie’s albums. These were the “Thin White Duke” years, as the first line of that album has it; whatever was possessing Bowie, to quote the same song, “It’s not the side effects of the cocaine / I’m thinking that it must be love.”

The primary chronicler of this period in Bowie’s life was unquestionably Cameron Crowe, whose youthful journalistic exploits for Rolling Stone were depicted, after a fashion, in Almost Famous. Not only did Crowe write a cover story on Bowie that appeared in the February 12, 1976 issue; he also interviewed Bowie for the September 1976 issue of Playboy, an interview that featured several remarkable statements, most prominently, that “yes, I believe very strongly in fascism.” Amazingly, Crowe was a teenager when all of this was happening—he turned 20 in July 1977.

If you are a David Bowie addict, it’s fairly likely you have read these lines, which appeared in Crowe’s 1976 feature on Bowie for Rolling Stone:

Bowie announces that he’s got a new project, his autobiography. “I’ve still not read an autobiography by a rock person that had the same degree of presumptuousness and arrogance that a rock & roll record used to have. So I’ve decided to write my autobiography as a way of life. It may be a series of books. I’m so incredibly methodical that I would be able to categorize each section and make it a bleedin’ encyclopedia. You know what I mean? David Bowie as the microcosm of all matter.”

If the first chapter is any indication, The Return of the Thin White Duke is more telling of Bowie’s “fragmented mind” than of his life story. It is a series of sketchy self-portraits and isolated incidents apparently strung together in random, probably cutout order. Despite David’s enthusiasm, one suspects it may never outlast his abbreviated attention span. But it’s a good idea. At 29, Bowie’s life is already perfect fodder for an autobiography.

The article in Rolling Stone also included an excerpt, in a box. It looked like this:

So Bowie gave Crowe a manuscript of some sort. What was in it? Has it ever been published in full?

This “first chapter” of The Return of the Thin White Duke clearly has never been published. I consulted ten book-length treatments of Bowie’s life and career (a list of these works can be found at the bottom of this post), and only 2 of them even bothered to mention it, and neither dwelled on it for very long. It’s abundantly clear that not many people know anything about this text.

Bowie: A Biography by Marc Spitz includes the following on page x of the introduction:

Bowie’s autobiography, purportedly entitled The Return of the Thin White Duke (after the opening lyric to the 1976 song “Station to Station”) has been rumored for years as well, but either the asking price is too high or it’s a bluff; or it’s really in the works, and like Bob Dylan’s Chronicles volume one, it will arrive when it’s the right time.

Meanwhile, in The Man Who Sold the World, Peter Doggett writes on page 285:

Much of The Man Who Fell to Earth was filmed in Albuquerque—the so-called Duke City, having been named for the Spanish duke of Albuquerque, Spain. And it was there that David Bowie, who was unmistakably thin, and white, began to write a book of short stories titled The Return of the Thin White Duke. It was, he explained, “partly autobiographical, mostly fiction, with a deal of magic in it.” Simultaneously, he was telling Cameron Crowe: “I’ve decided to write my autobiography as a way of life. It may be a series of books.” Or it might be a song—or, as printed in Rolling Stone magazine at the time, the briefest and most compressed of autobiographical fragments, which suggested he would have struggled to extend the entire narrative of his life beyond a thousand words.

In 2012 the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened its Library and Archives in Cleveland, Ohio, and one of the institution’s most intriguing holdings is the Rolling Stone Collection, which contains the editorial files, notes, work product, etc. for all issues starting in 1974 and stretching all the way to 1989. It’s a lot of super-interesting material to which all rock journalists should be paying attention.

The manuscript of chapter 1 of The Return of the Thin White Duke that Bowie gave to Crowe is in those files, and I’ve read it in its entirety.

Rolling Stone’s arrangement with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives does not permit visual reproduction of its work product, so it is not possible for Dangerous Minds to post the pages of this manuscript here. However, researchers are permitted to quote portions of items found in the Rolling Stone Collection—I was told that I am permitted to quote 10% of the manuscript as “fair use.” I’m going to do just that, in a minute.

When I first encountered this at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives, I excused myself from the archive (cellphones are not permitted in the room itself) and Googled a few choice phrases to see whether anyone else had ever published it. I came up with zero hits in all instances.

The manuscript is nine pages long, typewritten. What’s contained in the archive is a Xerox copy of the original; where the original is, I have not the slightest idea. On the top of the first page is typed, in allcaps, “THE RETURN OF THE THIN WHITE DUKE.” Underneath that, in someone’s handwriting—perhaps the author’s, perhaps Crowe’s—are the words “BY DAVID BOWIE.”

It is quite a remarkable document, with Bowie inserting often mundane impressions of the past into a grandiloquent, over-the-top sci-fi allegorical construct reminiscent of Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway or, indeed, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. (Just to give you an idea, the named characters in the manuscript include the “Thin White Duke,” the “Finder,” the “Fatal Father,” and “Magnauseum.” I think.) As for the more workaday parts, there’s a paragraph comparing the relative merits of chisel toes versus high pointers (these are types of shoe), with Bowie, in whatever fictive guise, preferring the chisel toe. Another longish passage is dedicated to the decisions involved in painting his home: “Deep blue was the color that I took to every dwelling,” starts Bowie on that subject.

The text is broken up into many, many shorter sections, most of which are just a paragraph or two long. For some reason Hebrew letters are used to distinguish the sections (ALEPH, BETH, GIMEL, DALETH, HE, VAU, ZAIN). In between the more prosaic bits that are apparently about Bowie’s own life are sections in which the Thin White Duke and possibly others—it’s not quite clear—present their verbose and overblown pronouncements about life and music and fame.

Oh, also? There’s a fair bit of sex in it. A couple of the passages are quite steamy.

Much, much more after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘I am a DJ’: David Bowie spins his favorite records at the BBC, 1979
07:03 am


David Bowie

A terrific find from John Coulthart. It was “a bit grey out today” on Sunday, May 20, 1979, when the BBC turned Radio One over to David Bowie for a couple of hours. The results were simply delightful—and the session is available in full on YouTube.

Bowie in 1979 was pretty near the top of his game, but then again he seldom seems very far off his game. The tracks Bowie chose to play are as fascinating as those he left off. Several of the artists are to be expected, others entirely unexpected. Bowie, the great popularizer of our time, the man through whom so many influences of the 20th century flowed and were given vital form, you can hear that deep need to show, to bring listeners something new, in every word Bowie utters.

It’s extremely interesting to hear Bowie refer to tracks that are fairly familiar to any decently informed music fan as if nobody knows about them—a lesson in the benefits the Internet (not to mention stacks of CD reissues) has brought, if nothing else.

We’ve tucked the track listing behind the jump, but it’s far more amusing to listen without knowing, don’t you reckon?

Track listing after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Join The Coffee Achievers: David Bowie, Heart & Kurt Vonnegut pimp the caffeine lifestyle, 1984

Instant? Ziggy, you surprise me.
Whenever some foodie gets snooty about Starbucks, it’s helpful to keep some historical perspective. Before the mass coffee chain invaded every strip mall in suburbia (plus half the truckstops in bumfuck), you were likely purchasing disgusting grocery store mud on your way to work. So yes, Starbucks is a homogenizing blight of cut-throat capitalist banality, but it has raised coffee standards for your average American, who otherwise would still be choking down Folgers.

Apparently during the early 80s young people stopped drinking coffee entirely. Soda was tastier and it didn’t make you feel like an old man punching in for his day at the mill. Okay, I just made that up, but still coffee had yet to hook the MTV generation!

In 1984, The National Coffee Association launched a campaign called “The Coffee Achievers”—trying sell coffee as young and hip. It’s not exactly clear who was a spokesperson for the ad, and who was just pasted in without their consent. I find it somewhat unlikely that NFL quarterback Ken Anderson, Jane Curtain or David fucking Bowie knew that footage of them was being used to promote coffee, but it looks like Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart were enthusiastically on board, literally; note the coffee mug being set down right on the expensive mixing board. Cicely Tyson was obviously a willing participant—and you will note that coffee makes her want to hit someone—but Kurt Vonnegut? Looks like it. The ELO soundtrack isn’t half bad, but I’m willing to bet Starbucks and the exporting of Seattle’s grunge culture did more for youth coffee consumption than the oh-so-hip Jeff Lynne.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
David Bowie stars in Bertolt Brecht’s ‘Baal,’ 1982
10:13 am


David Bowie
Bertolt Brecht

Baal was the first play written by Bertolt Brecht, in 1918 at the age of 20 as a student at Munich University. It’s a strange piece of work, a hybrid of the classic nineteenth-century drama of Strindberg and Ibsen and Chekhov and something rawer that belongs to the twentieth century. Brecht had not hit on his radical methods yet, but his basic bitterness and skill with words is already present.

The title might lead one to expect a play about topics bestial and Biblical, about the Canaanite god of thunderstorms, fertility and agriculture or a 17th-century demon “said to appear in the forms of a man, cat, toad, or combinations thereof,” but no. While it shares something of that Biblical feeling in the chorus’ allegorical songs and the main character’s wanderings in the middle of the play, the play is set squarely in the 20th century and is about an ostensibly mortal man, a poet in fact.

It is my belief that Baal, in addition to whatever other virtues it has, also served as some kind of wish-fulfillment for Brecht. The main character, Baal, is a poet of enormous talent who is irresistibly attractive to women and who also is willful enough to scorn several benefactors in the face of his own short-term self-interest. Here are two lines that illustrate the point. Early in the play a man says to Baal, “I can understand men giving their hearts to you . . . but how do you manage to have such success with women?” Yeah, right. Later on a woman tasked with looking after his garret whines about discovering yet another young woman in his bed: “Dawn to dusk – his bed not allowed to cool off!”

In 1982 the esteemed TV director Alan Clarke filmed Baal for the BBC with David Bowie in the title role; he also sings the songs of the chorus that punctuate the play. It’s fair to say, I think, simultaneously that everyone involved did a fine job and that it doesn’t really work. Baal is part of the distant past, and therefore it requires extraordinary efforts to make it resonate in our age, otherwise you are left with a bunch of senseless declaiming. Bowie has a number of songs in the show, and I think it’s not unkind to say that he succeeds as a singer and not as an actor. The skills required of a flamboyant rock star are antithetical to quality acting—as good as he is, Bowie never quite gets lost in the role.

Additionally, the production is rather stagebound—I presume it was some species of a filmed stage production—and the quality of the transfer ain’t great either. I found it very hard to get into until I downloaded the approximate text of the play (.doc download) and read along as I watched the play, and then it began to cohere far more.

It’s easy to see why Bowie was attracted to the material—it’s a Brecht play in which he’s an artistic genius/super-stud and he also gets to sing and act. In 1982 Bowie released an EP entitled David Bowie in Bertolt Brecht’s BAAL, whose primary purpose in life has been to puzzle crate diggers momentarily as they hunt for a mint copy of Aladdin Sane.


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Cars, McCartney, and Bowie, remade by Replicants: When Failure formed the greatest cover band ever

I’ve been fairly unrestrained in expressing my abiding fandom of the commercially underachieving ‘90s rock band Failure, both in real life and on Dangerous Minds. They had everything I loved—dense and creamy distorted guitar tones, gripping tension-and-release dynamics, emotive, anxious melodic and lyrical content that FAR surpassed the one-dimensional angst typical of the period’s radio rock. The poor sales of their masterpiece Fantastic Planet contributed to the band’s end, though time has rehabilitated the album and it’s now considered an influential classic, which set the stage for Failure’s reunion last year. The announcement of that tour made me as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning, and I drove three hours to once again catch a band I utterly adored but hadn’t seen in concert since 1992.

As it happens, there was more than just a tour in the offing—Failure have fully reactivated, and their first album in 19 years, The Heart Is A Monster, will arrive next week. I’m confident that fans of Fantastic Planet will be more than satisfied—I typically take a dim view of reunions, and if Monster was in any way unsatisfactory, I’d be properly bitching up a storm about it. But no. It’s goddamn glorious. The band conceived Monster as a continuation of Planet, and even picked up the numbering of its interstitial segues from where the prior album left off. I’ll not subject you to lengthy gushing, it’s streaming in its entirety on Entertainment Weekly’s web site if you want to judge for yourself. I recommend listening from beginning to end in a sitting if you can swing the time. (I should add that they’re on tour now, and later in the summer they’re doing dates with another neglected ‘90s favorite of mine, Hum, about which I’m kinda headsploding.)

One of Failure’s most illuminating, and just flat out most fun albums wasn’t even a Failure album, but a 1995 time-killer project. Waiting for Fantastic Planet to be released and unable to tour, Failure prime movers Ken Andrews and Greg Edwards teamed up with ex-Tool bassist Paul D’Amour and keyboardist Chris Pitman (Tool, Blinker the Star, and I shit you not Guns N’ Roses) to record a superb album of transformative ‘70s and ‘80s cover songs under the name Replicants, a winking Blade Runner reference. What could have just been a goof turned out as an extremely strong work in its own right, and their eponymous album is not just my favorite covers album, it’s been one of my favorite albums period for 20 years.

A contemporary article in the UCLA Daily Bruin of all places provided a look at the band’s formation and intent:

Ken Andrews, lead singer of the Replicants, has been stuck in a “Warehousy loft-type space” for about a year. Tired of the white-walled complex and its “big air conditioning ducts,” he wants to be out and on the road. But the tortured musician must continue mixing and producing in his “utilitarian” studio.

“I’m really sick of it. I really want to play live now,” complains Andrews. However, the current band member of Failure and frontman for his side project the Replicants manages to remain laid back and positive. And with good reason. The Replicants have just released a self-titled album of covers of tunes ranging from the Beatles to the Cars. Snatching countless enthusiastic reviews, the project includes the talents of one Tool member (Paul D’Amour), one Eye In Triangle musician (Chris Pitman), and one other Failure member (Greg Edwards). And, once Andrews’ soon-to-be-released Failure album hits stores, he will be able to return to his beloved stage.



Strangely, a four-track demo tape of the haphazard group landed on a desk at Zoo Entertainment. Before they knew it, the Replicants were an official band with an offer to record an entire album of cover songs. “At that point, we had no idea what to do,” explains a baffled Andrews. “Everyone would just bring up songs and either we would all agree or we wouldn’t and I think everyone sort of got their one song that maybe other people didn’t want.” However, they could all agree on one thing: The Replicants would have their own musical freedom.

“We like doing the Replicants because we could do different versions of these songs in ways that Failure or Tool wouldn’t,” Andrews says. For instance, neither spawning ground for the creative forces of the Replicants would think to record Missing Persons’ “Destination Unknown” with an industrial/techno spin. Each song was dealt with individually, following no preconceived notion of the album’s overall sound. This system provided a good musical balance for Andrews and his associates.

Some of the transformations are huge (John Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep?”), some are closer to mere production-values updates (obligatory cover-band “Cinnamon Girl”), but pretty much every revamped tune on the CD has some kind of a tonal shift to the darker. One simple and actually sorta brilliant minor-key modulation imparts a wholly unexpected sense of dread to Replicants’ version of the Cars’ bouncy “Just What I Needed.” See if you ever unhear it.

More Replicants, after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
David Bowie’s transgender muse Romy Haag
09:12 am


David Bowie
Romy Haag

Glamorous Romy Haag is one of the most famous transgender women in Europe and a cabaret performer of some renown. She is also well-known as a former lover and muse of David Bowie during his Berlin years (and indeed was the apparent reason for his move to the city in 1976). Her influence on his work is clearly evident in the “Boys Keep Swinging” video, where Bowie appears in triplicate as a chorus of drag queens.

Haag was born in 1948 and early in her life, the issue of gender reassignment was discussed. She developed breasts naturally. Haag left her home at the age of 13, working as a clown, then a trapeze artist with the Circus Strassburger before becoming a female impersonator in Paris. At this time, Haag began living as a woman.

After performing her nightclub act in Fire Island and Atlantic City in the early 70s, in 1974, she opened what would become Germany’s most popular nightclub during the disco-era at the age of 23, “Chez Romy Haag.” Celebrity guests included Bowie and Iggy Pop, who were regulars, Bryan Ferry, Freddie Mercury and Lou Reed. Mick Jagger was another patron and allegedly had a brief affair with Haag.

Haag began her musical career in earnest in 1977. In 1983, when she was in her 30s she had a sex change operation and in 1999, published an autobiography with the great title, A Woman And Then Some. She’s still an honored performer and going strong at the age of 67. Follow Romy Haag on Twitter.

Below, Romy Haag discusses her relationship with David Bowie.

Romy Haag in 1978 performing her disco single “Superparadise” on the ‘Musikladen’ TV show. Compare this to the “Boys Keep Swinging” video.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘TV Wipeout’: Cabaret Voltaire’s rigorously post-punk 1984 video compilation resurfaces

John Coulthart has unearthed an utterly marvelous find from the early days of mass-produced video music content—Cabaret Voltaire’s TV Wipeout, a “video magazine” that was released on VHS in 1984. Watching it today, TV Wipeout is an excellent approximation of late-night avant-garde music programming from the early 1980s like Night Flight, albeit less scattershot and more rigorously postpunk in perspective. Of course, Cabaret Voltaire were often featured on Night Flight themselves.

TV Wipeout, videotape cover
As Coulthart explains, “This was the fourth title on the Cab’s own Doublevision label which was easily the best of the UK’s independent video labels at the time.” The compilation has plenty of gems. TV Wipeout features an interview with David Bowie on his latest movie, Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, excerpts from two Andy Warhol movies (Heat and Flesh), concert and documentary footage from the Fall at their creative peak, a video by Residents discovery Renaldo and the Loaf, footage of Marc Almond covering a Lou Reed song, and excerpts from cult classics like Plan Nine from Outer Space and Eating Raoul.

The footage of the Fall was taped at the The Venue in London on March 21, 1983. Their rendition of “Words of Expectation” is interrupted by an astonishing clip of the Fall’s manager, Kay Carroll, tearing the Factory’s Tony Wilson a new asshole for using some Fall music on a video without their permission.

(Click for a larger version)
On the next-to-last video, Marc & The Mambas cover Lou Reed’s “Caroline Says II” off of Berlin. For the first half of the song, Marc Almond is holding Genesis P-Orridge’s infant daughter Caresse in his arms until she starts to cry.

Coulthart also found a pretty hilarious interview in which Cabaret Voltaire’s Stephen Mallinder had the following to say about TV Wipeout (source: Cabaret Voltaire: The Art of the Sixth Sense by M. Fish and D. Hallbery):

Q: The next Doublevision was the TV Wipeout video which was a sort of disposable magazine compilation. It contained a fairly wide variety of contributors, from people like The Fall and Test Dept to some more mainstream groups like Bill Nelson and Japan.

Mallinder: The point was that Virgin Films were quite happy to work with us; they even gave us money in the form of advertising revenue for using some film clips from the Virgin catalogue. We were then able to camouflage them into the whole set-up and make them look as if they were part of the whole nature of the video compilation.

Q: One of those clips was a particularly inane interview with David Bowie. Was its inclusion merely a selling point?

Mallinder: Yes, it was purely that. There are a lot of people who will buy anything with David Bowie on it. So we said “Fuck it, why not use that as a selling point!” Actually the interview is appalling, it’s terrible. Our including it was almost like a piss-take. We were saying “you really will buy anything with David Bowie on it if you buy this”.

Coulthart asserts that some clips of Cabaret Voltaire and Japan are missing from this playlist, but I think that’s not right, at least if the list posted above is right, it’s just the Japan track that is missing, and you can find that one here.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The last days of Ziggy Stardust: Backstage with David Bowie, 1973
03:06 pm


David Bowie

In May 2002, not all that long ago, but still pre-YouTube (which launched in 2005), the Museum of Television & Radio presented the first-ever video retrospective devoted to the career of David Bowie, at least as it was documented over the medium of television. I want to say that it was five separate programs of four hours each over the course of several days, but it may have been four. I saw the ones up to the Let’s Dance era, the point which my interest in Bowie admittedly wanes.

In hindsight, i.e. seen from the vantage point of just a few months later, the MTR program, “David Bowie: Sound + Vision” was obviously a way to screen some of the material that had been sourced for the selection of the 2 DVD set, Best of Bowie, but not used. It was as motley a crew collection of diehard Bowie heads as you could possibly assemble who turned up, but I doubt that any of us had seen all of it. For instance, although every Brit has seen the famous “Starman” performance from Top of the Pops, I, being an American, had never seen that one before. And this despite making it one of my primary missions in life to acquire bootleg David Bowie… everything. Many of the British Bowie fanatics in the audience had never seen “The 1980 Floor Show” broadcast on The Midnight Special, whereas this was the first time that I—and most Americans my age and older—had ever clapped eyes on Bowie’s peculiarly alien rock messiah presence via the cathode ray.

Some of the things shown at MTR made it to the Best of Bowie DVD as extras and Easter eggs—like the ridiculously contentious interviews with talk show host Russell Harty, who always seem to go out of his way to “welcome” Bowie to his program with an outright insult, a backhanded compliment or the impolite suggestion that he was either a has-been (this in the midst of the astonishingly creative period that begat Young Americans, Station to Station and Low) or only touring because he was broke.

One thing from the MTR screenings that didn’t make it to the DVD, but that one can view on YouTube, is this amazing segment from the news program Nationwide, about the hysteria incited among Britain’s impressionable youth by the “man with a painted face and carefully adjusted lipstick.”

Three days after the program aired on BBC, Bowie announced the retirement of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars from the Hammersmith Odeon’s stage.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Music-Hall Humorist’: Read Marc Bolan’s Melody Maker article about David Bowie
06:59 am


David Bowie
Marc Bolan

Bowie and Bolan on the final episode of Bolan’s TV show, MARC

He had a mime act and used to open up the show. He didn’t sing at all but had a tape going and he’d act out a story about a Tibetan boy.

Mime act? Tape going? Tibetan boy? It can only be another reminiscence of David Bowie’s early years in showbiz. But this one is special: it comes from a Melody Maker feature by Bowie’s friend and sometime rival Marc Bolan. It appeared in print just six months before Bolan’s tragic death in a car crash.

I came across Bolan’s article, “Music-Hall Humorist,” in the foxed and brittle pages of David Bowie, A Chronology, a relic from the Let’s Dance era. “Music-Hall Humorist” first appeared in the March 12, 1977 issue of Melody Maker, a number that was heavy with Bowie-related news. Published during the Thin White Duke’s annus mirabilis, the issue featured both Iggy and Bowie on the cover, and the headline screamed LOU REED DUE.

The article reads more like a transcript of Bolan talking to a reporter than something he sweated out over a typewriter, but who knows? Maybe it was laboriously composed over a period of several weeks. Sure it was…

David is a great singer . . . he can sing anything, almost. I remember him when he was in The Lower Third and he used to go to gigs in an ambulance. I used to think he was very professional. He was playing saxophone then and singing. I suppose it was a blues band then and he was produced by Shel Talmy.

He did a record which I’m sure everybody has forgotten. It was ‘Pop Art’ – yer actual feedback. I can’t remember what it was called.

After that he went to Decca around the time I was doing ‘The Wizard’. He was into . . . bombardiers then. Don’t you remember ‘The Little Bombardier’?

He was very Cockney then. I used to go round to his place in Bromley and he always played Anthony Newley records. I haven’t spoken to him about it, but I guess that was how he got into mime.

Newley did mime in Stop the World I Wanna Get Off. The funny thing is that ‘The Laughing Gnome’, which was one of David’s biggest singles here, came from that early period.

It came at the height of his supercool image. And that’s very ‘Strawberry Fair’ . . . ‘the donkey’s eaten all the strawberries!’ That was his biggest single, so it just shows you it doesn’t pay to be cool, man!

Rock ‘n’ Roll suicide hit the dust and the laughing gnomes took over. We were all looking for something to get into then. I wanted to be Bob Dylan, but I think David was looking into that music-hall humour.

It was the wrong time to do it, but all his songs were story songs, like ‘London Boys’. They had a flavour, with very square kinda backings.

But in those days there weren’t any groovy backings being laid down. I think if he played back those records now he’d smile at them, because he was an unformed talent then. He was putting together the nucleus of what he was eventually going to be.

When he had ‘Space Oddity’ he was on tour with me in Tyrannosaurus Rex. He had a mime act and used to open up the show. He didn’t sing at all but had a tape going and he’d act out a story about a Tibetan boy. It was quite good actually, and we did the Festival Hall with Roy Harper as well.

I remember David playing me ‘Space Oddity’ in his room and I loved it and said he needed a sound like the Bee Gees, who were very big then. The stylophones he used on that, I gave him. Tony Visconti turned me onto stylophones.

The record was a sleeper for months before it became a hit, and I played on ‘Prettiest Star’, you know which I thought was a great song, and it flopped completely.

But I never got the feeling from David that he was ambitious. I remember he’d buy antiques if he had a hit, when he should have saved his money. David got his drive to be successful once I’d done it with the T. Rex thing. At the beginning of the seventies it was the only way to go.


“It’s so easy, a baby could learn to play it in fifteen minutes”: an ad for the Stylophone
David Bowie, A Chronology also includes this unsourced anecdote from March 1977:

While in London, David is taken for lunch to Toscanini’s in the Kings Road by Marc Bolan. After the meal, David and Bolan, both slightly drunk, wandered down the Kings Road singing. At one point, when in view of a packed open-topped double-decker bus full of school children, the two jumped up and down trying to attract the children’s attention shouting alternately, ‘I’m David Bowie’, and ‘I’m Marc Bolan’. Although the school children were none too interested in their antics, they did manage to attract some Bowie fans who couldn’t believe their luck when David obliged with an autograph and a chat.

I’m not sure if this is the “pop art” single Bolan was trying to recall, but here’s Bowie (in the Manish Boys) singing “I Pity The Fool” in 1965. Shel Talmy produced and Jimmy Page played lead guitar. (Be warned: there’s six seconds of silence before the song starts.)

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Isolated track of Barbra Streisand singing David Bowie’s ‘Life on Mars’
12:32 pm


David Bowie
Barbra Streisand

ButterFly is probably the most controversial album in Barbra Streisand’s impressive catalog. It was produced by her boyfriend at the time, Jon Peters, who had been a hairdresser and had no experience producing albums ( credits arranger Tom Scott as the “real power” on the album). On ButterFly Streisand ventured far outside of her comfort zone, covering the likes of Bob Marley (“Guava Jelly”) and Buck Owens (“Crying Time”). Streisand’s majestic treatment of Bowie’s “Life on Mars” might be the most successful track on the album (this guy thinks so, anyway) but in the September 1976 issue of Playboy Cameron Crowe asked Bowie what he thought of Streisand’s version and this was his answer: “Bloody awful. Sorry, Barb, but it was atrocious.”

As an album overall, Streisand has named ButterFly as one of her least favorite; in a February 6, 1992, appearance on Larry King Live a caller asked Streisand what her favorite and least favorite of her own albums were; she cited The Broadway Album as her favorite and ButterFly as her least favorite: “That was pretty lousy. I think that’s the only one that I didn’t love. I just don’t remember the songs. I can’t remember what was on it. I don’t remember doing it.”

I don’t know. I’m no Streisand fan, but from this distance ButterFly looks punk as fuck. The sly album cover reminds me of Alex Chilton’s first album Like Flies on Sherbert, and the choice to do those unusual covers exhibits a certain “eff you” attitude that I enjoy. If middle-aged Barbra of 1992 didn’t agree, who could fault her, really. The whole Jon Peters thing and whatever criticism she received probably tarnished it for her.

Hear Babs cover Bowie after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
David Bowie on ‘Heroes,’ Iggy & Eno: ‘The Un-Aired Interview,’ 1977
11:55 am


David Bowie

“David Bowie: The Un-Aired Interview, 1977” is all the information offered by the YouTube uploader, but the context is fairly obvious anyway: He’s being interviewed in a hotel room during a 1977 press junket in Holland to promote Heroes. It’s pretty long and if you’re a Bowie fan, it’s quite entertaining. He’s especially “real” and down to Earth here, obviously a rarity in his 70s interviews until this time (as he cops to, admitting that every interview he was doing during the Ziggy Stardust era was “in character.”)

Bowie charmingly and enthusiastically discusses his plans to produce DEVO (who the Dutch interviewers have never heard of), working with Eno on Heroes and the slog of show business rituals such as the one that they are all involved in at that very moment.

In the middle, Bowie does a lip-sync of “Heroes” while the camera stays in the control room. Afterwards there’s a photo session with dozens of photographers during which two young boys present him with a book about Egon Schiele (Bowie intended to play the artist in a film biography around that time) which he’s obviously psyched about! Then the footage ends back in the hotel room for more Q&A.

All in all, this is one of the very best Bowie interviews I’ve ever seen. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, “The world will never run out of “newly uncovered” David Bowie videos.”

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The world will never run out of ‘newly uncovered’ David Bowie videos
02:57 pm


David Bowie

One of the questions we used to get asked a lot in the early days of this blog is if we thought we’d ever “run out of stuff” to feature here. After nearly six years if the seemingly bottomless pit of newly uncovered David Bowie videos alone is anything to go by, the answer is a definitive “No.”

Or perhaps I should write “Non” as these two er… newly uncovered clips, via the David Bowie News website, come from France originally. French photojournalist Philippe Auliac first shot Bowie at Victoria Station in London in 1976, the infamous incident (or non-incident as the case seemed to be) where the thin white duke was supposedly doing a fascist salute standing up in a car à la der Fuhrer. Since then he’s shot Bowie several times over the decades and he was kind enough to share his stash of Bowie vids with the world, which haven’t been seen since they were originally aired on French television in the late 1970s. (Two are embedded here, there’s a third, an interview at the Plaza hotel in New York here).

For your chance to win a print of one of his classic Bowie shots signed by Philippe, (as seen in his David Bowie - Passenger book) click over to David Bowie News and answer this question: On what date was Philippe’s shot of Bowie at Victoria Station taken?

After the jump, two ‘newly uncovered’ David Bowie videos

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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