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!
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.