Fashion designer Michael Fish created some of the most memorable outfits of the 1960s and 1970s, most famously the “men’s dress” as worn by Mick Jagger and David Bowie. His designs were also graced the films Modesty Blaise and Performance.
Here is Mr Fish as he introduces a brief taster of his 1969 collection, from German TV’s Aktuell.
When David Bowie made his appearance on Dinah Shore’s daytime gabfest, Dinah! in 1976, I faked being sick that day so I could stay home from school. I recorded the audio of the program by holding my $30 cassette recorder against the TV speaker. To me, this was event television. Watching it on YouTube some 35 years later, I realized how much of the dialogue is still to this day etched in my memory. Ridiculous perhaps, but true. This was back when rock and roll could still change your life.
Dig what’s on offer here folks: The thin white duke in FINE FORM, taped in Los Angeles on January 3, 1976, right before Station to Station came out, and apparently when he was in his still in his phase of wearing only clothes sold at Sears & Roebuck. Bowie was on the show to promote his role in Nicolas Roeg’s film The Man Who Fell to Earth.
To say that Dinah, Henry Winker, Nancy Walker and the studio audience were treated to an amazing version of “Stay” during that taping is simply an understatement. Listen to this LOUD and enjoy it. For me, this is one of the very best of the very best moments of David Bowie performing on television throughout his entire career.
The whole interview is fun. Dinah Shore, the Oprah of the 70s, clearly enjoyed meeting Bowie (she invited him back). I can’t embed the clips here, but you can watch it in three parts on YouTube (one, two, three).In the third segment, Natalie Cole, Candy Clark, parapsychologist Dr Thelma Moss [side note: I made a Kirlian photography device for my 5th grade science fair after hearing her speak about it here] and believe it or not, Bowie’s Karate instructor, Wayne Vaughn join David, Nancy Walker, Dinah and the Fonz.
I haven’t yet read Peter Doggett’s new book The Man Who Sold The World: David Bowie And The 1970s, but as a veteran reader of many Bowie biographies who has found few of them satisfying, a short excerpt from the book published on The Quietus blog looks intriguing. Here’s an excerpt of the excerpt:
Bowie was, and has been, more candid about his drug use during this period than most of his contemporaries, and various associates have fleshed out the picture. ‘I’ve had short flirtations with smack and things,’ he told Cameron Crowe in 1975, ‘but it was only for the mystery and the enigma. I like fast drugs. I hate anything that slows me down.’ So open was his drug use that the normally bland British pop newspaper Record Mirror felt safe in 1975 to describe Bowie as ‘old vacuum-cleaner nose’. His girlfriend in 1974/75, Ava Cherry, recounted that ‘David has an extreme personality, so his capacity [for cocaine] was much greater than anyone else’s.’ ‘I’d found a soulmate in this drug,’ Bowie told Paul Du Noyer in 2002. ‘Well, speed [amphetamines] as well, actually. The combination.’ The drugs scarred his personal relationships, twisted his view of himself and the world, and sometimes delayed recording sessions, as Bowie waited for his dealer to arrive. As live tapes from 1974 demonstrated, they also had a profound effect on his vocal range. Yet the effect on his creativity was minimal: cocaine took its toll on his internal logic, not his abilities to make music.
‘Give cocaine to a man already wise,’ wrote occultist Aleister Crowley in 1917, ‘[and] if he be really master of himself, it will do him no harm. Alas! the power of the drug diminishes with fearful pace. The doses wax; the pleasures wane. Side-issues, invisible at first, arise; they are like devils with flaming pitchforks in their hands.’ Bowie’s ‘side-issues’ were rooted in his unsteady sense of identity; he talked later of being haunted by his various characters, who were threatening him with psychological oblivion. When he described the Thin White Duke of ‘Station To Station’, he was effectively condemning himself: ‘A very Aryan, fascist-type; a would-be romantic with absolutely no emotion at all but who spouted a lot of neo-romance.’ Michael Lippman, Bowie’s manager during 1975, said his client ‘can be very charming and friendly, and at the same time he can be very cold and self-centred’. Bowie, he added, wanted to rule the world.
It was not entirely helpful that a man who was bordering on cocaine psychosis should choose to immerse himself in the occult enquiries that had exerted a more intellectual fascination over him five years earlier. The sense that his soul was at stake was exacerbated by the company he kept in New York at the start of 1975: Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, a fellow Crowley aficionado; and occult film-maker Kenneth Anger. In March that year, he moved to Los Angeles, where he was reported to be drawing pentagrams on the wall, experimenting with the pack of Tarot cards that Crowley had created, chanting spells, making hexes, and testing and investigating the powers of the devil against those of the Jewish mystical system, the Kabbalah. He managed to survive the fi lming of The Man Who Fell To Earth by assuming the emotionally removed traits of his character in the movie. But back in California, as he tried to assemble a soundtrack for the film and also create the Station To Station album, he slipped back into a state of extreme instability. Michael Lippman remembered ‘dramatically erratic behaviour’ on Bowie’s part. ‘Everywhere I looked,’ the singer explained to Angus MacKinnon in 1980, ‘demons of the future [were] on the battlegrounds of one’s emotional plane.’
Below, an alarmingly zonked Bowie presents an award at the 1975 Grammys. Wait for Aretha Franklin’s quip near the end.
After the jump, more 70s cocaine hi-jinks with the dame…
This started with an actual life cast mask of singer David Bowie. Then it has been sculpturaly enhanced by me, Erick Erickson. The Hair and ears have been added to create a very Spacey display, and I sculpted the eyes open showing a dazed space like expression. The detail is amazing, from the shaved eyebrows, to the Bowie teeth set in the mouth.
Update: I just noticed the Bowie mask is selling for $139.99 on Erick’s website.
David Bowie, in his Aladdin Sane guise, is featured on the new local currency you can only use in the Brixton district of South London. Known as the Brixton Pound, or the B£, the first round of the notes in 2009 featured Olive Morris, the radical political activist who founded the Brixton Black Women’s Group and played a pivotal role in the squatters’ rights campaigns of the 1970s; scientist James Lovelock who developed the ‘Gaia’ theory; C L R James, Trinidadian journalist, historian and socialist; and painter Vincent Van Gogh.
This new series of B£ notes pays tribute to Bowie; Black Cultural Archives founder Len Garrison; Chicago Bull Luol Deng and brave WWII spy Violette Szabo.
I appreciate that the folks behind the B£ (Transition Town Brixton) designed the money to call attention to luminaries who were either born in, raised or lived in Brixton. It draws people in emotionally and it’s a great way to start a conversation among residents of the district about what alternate currencies are, helping support local businesses and encouraging trade to stay in the local area, things most people would never even consider or think about these days. As a former Brixton resident myself (not that I’m hinting about anything!), I’m wondering when Nick Cave, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon from The Clash, and Linton Kwesi Johnson will receive the honors.
If you’re curious about how an alternate currency works in a fully urban setting, check out this video, it’s worth your time:
Below, the B£1 pound note that pays tribute to Olive Morris, political activist, pioneering black feminist and squatters rights champion who died at the age of 27 from cancer in 1979:
As readers of this blog most probably know by now, I’m a massive, massive Bowie head and have been for over 35 years. Although I tend to think I’ve seen and heard about 99.9% of everything relating to the man’s life and career, I’ve been finding that the .1% of the stuff I’ve never come across before is almost always pure gold and that there is also a seemingly bottomless pit of it. Maybe I should revise my total down to 95%? (Let’s hope the real number is actually closer to 50%).
Like I was saying, there is still a lot to discover, such as this, my new top favorite photograph ever taken of David Bowie. What’s more, he’s probably never seen it himself, either.
The photograph above was taken on the evening of Bowie’s first arrival in the United States. It’s on the Flickr account of Michael Olberman, a writer who covered pop music at the time. His brother happened to work for Bowie’s then record label, Mercury Records. This would have been in Jan-Feb of 1971, when Bowie was in America promoting The Man Who Sold the World (Apparently that’s a card or something that he’s holding and not a joint). Here’s the caption Michael wrote:
This was David Bowie’s first night (ever) in the United States. I am the one waving in the photo. David was great. He went to dinner with me, my brother and my parents. This photo was taken in my parent’s living room in Silver Spring, MD. Later that night he came to my house and spent the evening. Incredible memories for me. David, if you flickr—hello again!
I’m on some sort of David Bowie kick today because I’m lovin’ these David Bowie handmade nesting dolls by Tanja Stark. From her website, Suburban Gothic:
I painted these over several months, and for those of you who aren’t familiar with the images, these are the covers of iconic Bowie albums including Aladdin Sane, Low (my favourite doll - the orange one), Young Americans, Ziggy Stardust and Diamond Dogs.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Ms. Stark’s dolls are for sale.
Those lucky enough to grow-up in Blighty during the 1970s will remember the joys of The Kenny Everett Show (aka The Kenny Everett Video Show), with its mix of anarchic comedy, essential music, and heavily suggestive dancing from those naughty bods, Hot Gossip. The show was a must for those of a punk sensibility, who were bored with Top of the Pops and its hideous preference for anodyne, day-time television music from The Nolans, 5000 Volts and Paper Lace.
Everett’s show was outrageous, unpredictable and guaranteed to delight. A comedy genius and a brilliant radio DJ, Everett started on Pirate Radio before being chosen by The Beatles to cover their US tour. He joined the newly formed Radio 1 in 1967 and became famous for his incredible radio shows, where he multi-tracked himself in sketches and songs, creating his own distinct and unforgettable comedy.
In the 1970s, Everett helped launch Queen’s career by pushing for the release of “Bohemian Rhapsody” when he played a demo of the song 14 times on one program. Indeed he had a very close friendship with Freddie Mercury, until they fell out over cocaine. Everett, as radio pal Paul Gambaccini once said, lived an interesting life with his drugs, bondage, 2 husbands, classical music and hoovering. But it was his unforgettable TV show which I will certainly always be grateful.
One of his most memorable guests was David Bowie. Here the Thin White Duke performs “Boys Keep Swinging” and “Space Oddity”. Now how fab is that?
“Boys Keep Swinging” from The Kenny Everett Show 1979
“Chaque jour une vie nouvelle” or “A New Life Everyday” claimed David Bowie’s advert for Vittel Water back in 2003. The ad was tied-in to the release of Bowie’s Reality album, and had the rock god sharing a house with his stage alter egos - including Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke, the Scary Monsters Clown and the Diamond Dog.
A portrait of David Bowie is to be emblazoned across the front of a five-storey apartment building in Australia. I’m a huge, huge Bowie fan, but this is just… tacky.
The original plans for the building’s facade called for Andy Warhol’s mug instead of Bowie’s. No mention of why Warhol was nixed. The 18-unit building is supposed to begin construction in February of 2012.