Saturday, 1 October 2016

Octobowie


I've just listened to the latest Word podcast and was enthralled by Paul Morley talking so eloquently about David Bowie: Morley's biography of The Dame, 'The Age Of Bowie', has just been published and it's Morley's very personal take on probably one of the most influential players in the history of popular music.

The Bowie section on my bookshelves is very minimalist. I bought George Tremlett's sketchy paperback, 'The David Bowie Story', whilst still at school and not long out of short trousers. Tremelett's tome was quite literally a snapshot in time, ending as it does with Ziggy's retirement bash at Hammersmith Odeon in '73.

Sitting alongside Tremlett is 'Any Day Now - The London Years: 1947-1974'. And it is just that. Kevin Cann has put together an exhaustive encyclopedia of Bowie documenting what he was doing - and who he was doing it with - every single day between being born in January1947 and the day he left Britain in March 1974.

Whilst Bowie's influences are as far reaching today as they ever were and his stock, since his demise earlier this year, has never been so high, it's the years 1971-1973 when, for me, Bowie was most exciting. Seeing him on Top of the Pops playing Starman with his blue acoustic guitar, hearing Hunky Dory for the first time and getting giddy when Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars took rock and roll into a new theatrical dimension, is a unique sequence of events I feel privileged to have witnessed first hand.

Picking out random October days from these special years you can see the speed at which he was gaining traction. Space Oddity would not become a novelty hit ball and chain he would forever drag around and he was still a million miles away from Berlin. So, with the Beatles now safely in their grave, the stage was set for Bowie's grand entrance.

1971

The Man Who Sold The World is finally released and his song Oh You Pretty Thing is released by Peter Noone. His son Zowie (Duncan Jones) is born and he meets Andy Warhol for the first time in New York. He also plays Glastonbury Fayre - just as the sun is coming up.

Tuesday 19 October. Preview copies of the new album, Hunky Dory, are pressed with a final track listing and mix.

1972

Hunky Dory charts in the US and Ziggy is unveiled for the first time. He gifts All the Young Dudes to Mott The Hoople and produces Lou Reed's Transformer.

Friday 6 October. The Jean Genie (or 'Dream Genie' as its called on the tape box) is recorded in RCA's Studio D.

1973

A year bookended by Aladdin Sane and Pin Ups with Drive in Saturday and the death of Ziggy somewhere in the middle. By now he's huge - both over here and, all importantly, over there. Over there being America and Japan and most of the English speaking world.


Thursday 18 October. Filming of the The 1980 Floor Show, a Bowie live extravaganza, begins at London's Marquee Club - to be broadcast the following month in the US on NBC's Midnight Special.

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