This is about 11 minutes long and only audio, so it’s only for when you have time ... and IF YOU ARE interested. If you are a super Bowie fan, you might be ... otherwise, forget it ... or pass on the link to anyone you know who may be. It’s me interviewing David in 1973, for my own education, in order to do interviews on his behalf at the time. It’s kind of sweet, because you can hear how young and shy we are, especially me ... sort of afraid he is going to make me feel like a fool any second. I’ve had it all these years, but am just putting it out there now ... like I say, for the super Bowie fans ... and there are a lot of them, it seems. Hard for me to believe it’s from 40 years ago!
David Bowie’s classic 1972 concept album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars will be getting the 40th anniversary box set treatment this summer, getting reissued on CD and a vinyl/DVD package.
In a Feb 1974 issue of Rolling Stone Bowie explained the Ziggy plot-line to author William Burroughs:
Burroughs: Could you explain this Ziggy Stardust image of yours? From what I can see it has to do with the world being on the eve of destruction within five years.
Bowie: The time is five years to go before the end of the earth. It has been announced that the world will end because of lack of natural resources. Ziggy is in a position where all the kids have access to things that they thought they wanted. The older people have lost all touch with reality and the kids are left on their own to plunder anything. Ziggy was in a rock-and-roll band and the kids no longer want rock-and-roll. There’s no electricity to play it. Ziggy’s adviser tells him to collect news and sing it, ‘cause there is no news. So Ziggy does this and there is terrible news. ‘All the young dudes’ is a song about this news. It is no hymn to the youth as people thought. It is completely the opposite.
Burroughs: Where did this Ziggy idea come from, and this five-year idea? Of course, exhaustion of natural resources will not develop the end of the world. It will result in the collapse of civilization. And it will cut down the population by about three-quarters.
Bowie: Exactly. This does not cause the end of the world for Ziggy. The end comes when the infinites arrive. They really are a black hole, but I’ve made them people because it would be very hard to explain a black hole on stage.
Burroughs: Yes, a black hole on stage would be an incredible expense. And it would be a continuing performance, first eating up Shaftesbury Avenue.
Bowie: Ziggy is advised in a dream by the infinites to write the coming of a starman, so he writes ‘Starman’, which is the first news of hope that the people have heard. So they latch on to it immediately. The starmen that he is talking about are called the infinites, and they are black-hole jumpers. Ziggy has been talking about this amazing spaceman who will be coming down to save the earth. They arrive somewhere in Greenwich Village. They don’t have a care in the world and are of no possible use to us. They just happened to stumble into our universe by black-hole jumping. Their whole life is travelling from universe to universe. In the stage show, one of them resembles Brando, another one is a Black New Yorker. I even have one called Queenie the Infinite Fox.
Now Ziggy starts to believe in all this himself and thinks himself a prophet of the future starman. He takes himself up to incredible spiritual heights and is kept alive by his disciples. When the infinites arrive, they take bits of Ziggy to make themselves real because in their original state they are anti-matter and cannot exist in our world. And they tear him to pieces on stage during the song ‘Rock ‘n’ roll suicide’. As soon as Ziggy dies on stage the infinites take his elements and make themselves visible. It is a science fiction fantasy of today and this is what literally blew my head off when I read Nova Express, which was written in 1961. Maybe we are the Rodgers and Hammerstein of the seventies, Bill!
“Ah yes, the old transubstantiation con,” you can almost hear WSB mutter…
The label claims to have some “previously unheard” material from the Ziggy era in store for fans, but considering the sheer amount of bootlegged Bowie recordings that have slipped out over the decades into my collection alone, I can’t imagine what this might be. Also, no word on if the new release will include the little-known 5.1 surround remix of Ziggy Stardust done by Ken Pitt and Paul Hicks at Abbey Road Studios in 2003 and only released as an SACD. To my ears, Ziggy Stardust always sounded really weak and tinny. Compare Bowie’s vocals on the album to any other record of his and his voice sounds shrill and lacking the deep-throated nuances he’s obviously capable of, almost as if he’s straining his vocal cords throughout. The 2003 remix sounded muscular and bold, with the bottom added back into the mix, Mick Ronson’s guitar sounding much, much hairier that it ever has previously and the vocals sweetened nicely with more depth. It actually sounds like a different album and I’d rank it far, far, superior to the original vinyl or subsequent CD releases. It’s THE version to own, hands down, let’s just hope that it get included in this new box set.
Below, David Bowie performs “Starman” on TOTP in 1972, the very moment when the greater British public became very aware of who he was. His grinning confidence here is palpable. The guy knew he was going to be a big, big star and he acted like one.
The platform shoes to-die-for were Frank N. Furter’s in The Rocky Horror Picture Show - those bejeweled white heels made Tim Curry’s first appearance as the sweet transvestite the epitome of glam. And gorgeous he was too.
Elton John may arguably have had the best platform shoes, but his tended to veer into stage props, eventually leading to those sky-high Doctor Marten boots in Ken Russell’s Tommy. And of course, there was David Bowie, Twiggy, and a host of pop stars sashaying around London on pairs of ankle-breakers. Like Oxford bags, bell bottoms, high-waisters, and bomber jackets, the platform shoe epitomized the androgynous nature of seventies fashions. Originally devised as stage shoes in Greek theater, platforms have been in and out of style through the centuries, at various times used by prostitutes to signal their availability and profession (to literally stand out from the crowd), and were popular in the 18th century as shit-steppers, used to avoid effluent on the road. However, their greatest impact was in the 1970s, when they were the boot of choice for seemingly everyone under 30.
I had a pair of 5 inch heels, blue patent leather, divine to walk in, impossible to run in, and not the expected school uniform. This British Pathe featurette takes a look at the trend of platform shoes from 1977.
Early B&W video footage of Bruce Springsteen performing “Growin’ Up” at Max’s Kansas City on August 10, 1972.
David Bowie happened to be there that night and this is what he had to say about the then unknown Boss’s performance:
“So this guy is sitting up there with an acoustic guitar doing a complete Dylan thing. My friend and I were about to leave when he started introducing a band who were joining him on stage.”
“The moment they kicked in he was another performer. All the Dylanesque stuff dropped off him and he rocked. I became a major fan that night and picked up Asbury Park immediately.”
In 1973 Bowie recorded “Growin’ Up” as part of the Pin Ups sessions. The song didn’t make the cut, but it would see Bowie record the very first Bruce Springsteen cover. Two years later, during the Young Americans sessions, Bowie laid down a soul version of Springsteen’s “It’s Hard to be a Saint In The City” with the Boss in attendance for the mixdown at Philadelphia recording studio, Sigma Sound.
Below, another song recorded at Max’s that same night (actually the set’s opening number), “Henry Boy.”
About five or six years ago, at the height of both nu-disco and the Italo revival (and while I was releasing music under the name Trippy Disco), I found myself playing more and more vintage disco records with crashing power-chords and wailing axe solos. Because of the “sell out” accusations that these kind of records attracted at the time (from both camps) it’s a side of disco that’s been neglected, even though I love those sounds. So, I decided to put together an hour’s worth of my favourite disco/rock records, and, lo, the ‘Skool Of Rock’ mix was born.
I decided not to feature anything too “New Wave” or post-punk as the disco influence on those sounds was already very obvious, though I did get to slip in a few acts who would technically be classed as “disco” but who dipped into “rock” now and again (Edwin Starr and Giorgio Moroder, for instance.) And accordingly, there’s also the obligatory disco cash-ins by some of your favourite rock acts (Queen, Bowie, ZZ Top.) Besides that, there are some real gems here, including the Patrick Cowley remix of Tantra’s “Hills Of Katmandu” which is one the most “fuck yeah!” fist-pumping disco anthems of all time.
So, you might love this mix, you might really hate it, but either way here it is:
ELO “Don’t Bring Me Down (Trippy Disco Re-Edit)”
CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL “Fortunate Son”
ROCKETS “On The Road Again”
EDWIN STARR “The Rock”
CHILLY “For Your Love”
KISS “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”
TANTRA “Hills Of Katmandu (Patrick Cowley Megamix / Automan Edit)”
LED ZEPPELIN “Whole Lotta Love (Acapella)”
MATERIAL “Bustin’ Out”
ZZ TOP “Legs (Metal Mix)”
GIORGIO MORODER “Evolution”
MACHO “Not Tonight (Dimitri From Paris Re-Edit)”
SKATT BROS “Walk The Night (Album Version)”
QUEEN “Another One Bites The Dust”
DAVID BOWIE “Stay”
WINGS “Goodnight Tonight (Trippy Disco Re-Edit)”
Age may weary and death may claim, but the ears will not condemn this fine selection of essential listening from Blondie, Joe Strummer, Ian Dury, Sonic Youth, David Bowie, Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen taken from Later with Jools Holland.
01. Blondie - “Heart of Glass” from 1998
02. Joe Strummer - “London Calling” from 2000
03. Ian Dury - “Sex and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll” from 1998
04. Sonic Youth- “Sacred Trickster” from 2009
05. David Bowie - “Ashes to Ashes” from 1999
06. Johnny Cash - “Folsom Prison Blues” from 1994
07. Leonard Cohen - “Dance me to the End of Love” from 1993
Empire Magazine held a photoshop contest and asked its readers to mash-up David Bowie with recognizable movie posters. The majority of the submissions were bad photoshop jobs, but some were really funny and quite clever. Here are a few that made me smile.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted a vintage interview with David Bowie from the BBC that included more footage from his Broadway turn in The Elephant Man than I have ever seen elsewhere. This is a follow-up to that, a personality profile from ABC’s 20/20 shot around the same time.
You don’t tend to think of 20/20 as being so cutting edge today, but this story must’ve been quite a startling thing for some Americans to have beamed into their living rooms 30 years ago. I can vividly recall my parents being very perplexed by this piece and why I thought David Bowie was “cool” in the first place. It just didn’t make sense to them.
It’s a cliche when a rock star reaches 65 to mention the time when it didn’t look like they’d make pensionable age, but with David Bowie who marks the milestone on Sunday, it’s almost unavoidable. Look at a picture of him in the mid-70s, when he was ravaged by cocaine, living off a diet of red peppers and milk and so paranoid that he apparently kept his own urine in a fridge lest persons unknown steal it: this is not a man destined to make old bones.
It wasn’t just the drugs: there was something about the intensity with which he worked during that decade - the scarcely-believable ten-year creative streak that begins with the 1970s The Man Who Sold The World and ends with the 1980’s Scary Monsters And Super-Creeps – that suggests an early demise. Someone that burns that brightly probably isn’t going to burn for long.
Under the circumstances, it’s hard to begrudge him his ongoing semi-retirement: he last made an album in 2003, and for the best part of a decade has made only sporadic public appearances, the odd special guest spot here and there. It was precipitated by emergency surgery on a blocked artery, and lurid rumours about the state of his health have abounded ever since.
Ouch. The idea of a world without David Bowie (even if he’s not in the public eye much these days) is something I’ve never really contemplated. Thanks a bunch, Guardian, for ruining my morning!
Sir Tim Rice interviews David Bowie, on the Friday Night, Saturday Morning program in 1980. Bowie, then on Broadway for his critically acclaimed portrayal of “Elephant Man” John (Joseph) Merrick, discusses the role and can be seen here in more of the play than I have ever seen anywhere else.
A friend of mine’s father went to see The Elephant Man on Broadway and for some reason he asked me what he should see—I was 14, what would I know?—and I recommended that he see this play, which he thought was terrific. He brought me back the Playbill from his trip to New York and I still have it.
For those of you who don’t think that David Bowie can act (and there is certainly some evidence for that position!) these extended clips from The Elephant Man will be a revelation. It seems obvious that they must’ve shot the entire play. If so, where the hell is it?
Above, the future Mrs. David Johansen—and later, the ex-Mrs. Steven Tyler—super groupie Cyrinda Foxe with another of her paramours, during the shooting of the “Jean Genie” promo video by Mick Rock.
Christmas is coming early for Bowie fans… tonight in the UK (and soon after on YouTube and torrent trackers for the rest of us). From the NME:
Rare footage of David Bowie performing on Top Of The Pops is to be broadcast on BBC 2 tonight (December 21).
The footage, which sees the singer play “The Jean Genie’” had been lost until last week, when retired TV cameraman John Henshall came forward with a copy of the performance. It was previously believed that every copy of the UK Number 2 hit had been destroyed.
The four-minute clip will now be included in tonight’s Top Of The Pops Christmas Special at 7.30pm (GMT).
Executive producer of Top Of The Pops 2 Mark Cooper told BBC News:
“Bowie singing ‘The Jean Genie’ is electric and the kind of piece of archive that not only brings back how brilliant Top Of The Pops could be, but also how a piece of archive can speak to us down the years.”
Speaking of rare Bowie footage, did you clock that picture of him performing with the Buzz that I posted here yesterday? Notice the video cameras? It looks like they were on Ready, Steady, Go! Where’s this footage? It would be amazing if that survived somehow.
UPDATE: Here it is!
Thank you, Mark Hedden, Barry Cartwright, Spencer Kansa
A young David Bowie—soon after changing his name—interviewed at the height of his Anthony Newley fixation and a performance of “Over the Wall We Go” a seldom heard track (that I happen to love).
YouTube poster, “Eclipse1501” writes:
In London in 1966 at the Marquee Club David Bowie did a Sunday afternoon show, The Bowie Showboat, from April 10th to June 12th. At the second Bowie Showboat concert he met his soon to be manager, Ken Pitt. This recording is almost 45 years old so forgive the period live sound quality but enjoy a young entertainer. There is an audio break in the middle but stick with it!