I don’t often post about David Bowie but I have some new followers who joined because of some recent posts I wrote about him here and here. So —- this one is for you! One of said followers asked me some questions so here are the answers – and what a pleasure it was to write! Anyone else, please feel free to ask me via the comments or contact form.
1. When did you first see David Bowie? Where?
- I first saw him on television in about 1972, when he sang Starman on Top of the Pops. I was 11 and fell instantly in love. His teeth! His hair! His outfit!
2. What was your first David Bowie record?
3. Have you seen him live?
- Three times – Serious Moonlight Tour (1983) and Glass Spider Tour (1987). The Glass Spider Tour received bad reviews but one of my favourite Bowie performances and songs is from that tour – Bang Bang. I went to Glass Spider twice.
4. Which are your favourite David Bowie movies?
5. Which biography do you like and why?
I like this one because it is very well-balanced. It neither deifies or vilifies Bowie and always examines both sides of every story. It is well-researched with nice photographs and has a good index. It goes into everything but deals far more with Bowies musical career than his personal life which is fine by me.
6. Your favourite Bowie songs?
Probably Moonage Daydream because I think it has everything. My favourite version is the live performance at his retirement concert at the Harrismith Odeon from 3rd July 1973. He was tired, had been playing 2 shows a day for a year plus giving many interviews. The costumes were shabby and worn and he was not eating and not sleeping. He said that he couldn’t stand the sound of the music ringing in his head, both onstage and off. He had slipped right into the Ziggy persona. This footage was shot at the last concert of the tour, during the show where he ‘killed off Ziggy’ at the end. But looking at the clip now, all that comes across is his energy, his beauty, his voice, his songwriting talent and his chemistry with the band. Mick Ronson’s guitar solo here is epic. Bowie disappears halfway through for a costume change for the next song, hence the extended solo. This entire concert is immortalised on the DVD I mentioned above – Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars Motion Picture. Find it on Amazon.
A close second would be Heroes – the version sung on Dutch television in 1977 after he had returned from Berlin (where he wrote the song). He is totally without the glam aspect (no costumes, no makeup) and is clear-skinned, a more healthy weight, very low-key and almost drug-free. He looks so young and very sad but the song is, as always, brilliant. Because I like this one so much, I really like the interview that went with it, which was never broadcast. I will pop a link at the bottom if anyone wants to look at it. It is in three parts but you can find the other parts from the first part – look in the sidebar to the right.
There is also a version from Top of the Pops (also 1977)
I also like Rebel Rebel because of the great guitar (played by Bowie) and the fact that this was his last foray into glam. Only he could carry off that outfit and make it look as relevant today as it was then!
I also love Fame, Changes, Young Americans.
7. Why are you a fan?
In the beginning, it was because I was 11 and he was gorgeous! So initially it would have been his physical beauty and the glam factor of Ziggy. His hairstyle, his makeup, the astral disk on his forehead, his snaggly teeth, his androgyny, the clothes he wore (on stage and off). He could be simultaneously very masculine and feminine. Then it was the songs and his distinctive voice. After that it was realising his songwriting talent and his musical versatility. Then it was listening to interviews and realising his intelligence and how articulate he was. Finally it was his sense of humour and the fact that he has really grown older with grace and style.
8. Favourite interviews?
I love this TGI one because he is completely drug-free, friendly, funny and rebuffs questions about his sexuality as deftly as usual. Plus he is still gorgeous – he was 52 here. He has no airs and graces and does not take himself seriously at all.
And the Jonathan Ross one because he is so open and funny, and we learn a lot plus we get to hear him sing more than once! And, once again, dodge questions about his sexuality.
This series of six interviews is also very very good. I will pop up the first one and you can watch the rest if you want to by clicking on the clearly marked links to the right.
This one is not an interview but it is a very interesting BBC programme on Bowie’s early years
9. Any Bowie era you are not a fan of?
Not a Bowie era per se but more a period in his life. I would say round the time of Cracked Actor, which showed his descent into serious drug addiction. He was so painfully thin and twitchy and obviously in a very bad place. The part at 5.44 gives me chills.
Here he is on the Dick Cavett show – gaunt, jumpy but still very articulate and well-mannered – asking politely if he could remove his jacket and then thanking Cavett when he said yes.
And two that really makes me want to cry – from Soul Train. Lipsynching, gaunt and off his tree on either booze or drugs.
10. Do you have any favourite Bowie quotes?
From a 1995 interview of David Bowie by Russell Harty:
Harty: I mean you do know that the England you left, two years ago, is not the England you’re going to come back to?
Bowie: Yeah, well this Thursday is nothing like last Thursday, but it’s just as important. I’d miss it if it wasn’t after Wednesday.
The whole interview is here – Harty is absolutely terrible in this interview in my opinion. His questions are awful!
11. Any favourite Bowie photographs?
I have many! Here are some of them. I do not own these photographs so if you see them and any belong to you, please contact me and I will credit you or take them down, whichever you wish. Thank you!
And, as promised above, an unpublished interview with David, aged 30, in 1977. This interview is in three parts – you will find parts 2 and 3 in the sidebar.
11. Anything else you would like to share?
I like this – it is Bowie’s reply to the first American fan letter he ever received.