69!

It’s David Bowies 69th Birthday today, Happy Birthday David.

It’s also 44-years since a 1972, a wet evening photo-shoot in Heddon Street in London gave us one of the more iconic album covers ever; and finally, it’s the release date for Bowies 28th studio album, Blackstar.

He was hugely influential on me in my early teens. I saw him live a few times, including during the first Spiders from Mars Tour in 1972 at his second gig that year in High Wycombe. I also saw Bowie at the Milton Keynes bowl in 1990 as the UK Leg of the Sound+Vision Tour, which famously was the last outing of his back catalog. The concert was overshadowed though by a car crash on our way home, when another driver ran a red-light and very nearly killed both me and my wife Wendy.

Asides from trying to copy his style in the early 1970’s, I used used many lines and couplets from David Bowie lyrics in my English language course work. Sadly I don’t have any of that now but can recall getting A’s for some of the submissions. Mr (Paul) Coffman must have known, but I assume since I could actually explain the structure that was good enough.

YoungerTowards the end of 1974, the end of Ziggy Stardusts 5-Years, I started working on Wembley Market, selling pub mirrors and 7-inch singles on two stalls(Proprietor: Tony Clifford),  as Bowie switched to a more soulful music direction, so did I.

Robert Elms on BBC Radio London featured Bowie today in his “fourfer” weekly segment, where listeners call-up and request their favorite four tracks. You can hear the whole program here, the fourfer starts at 1:05:00.

The foufer featured only 1-track I would have chosen, but it did make me think what my personal fourfer would be. Enjoy.

“And it was Stalking time
for the Moonboys, the Bewley Brothers”


And it was cold and it rained so I felt like an actor
And I thought of Ma and I wanted to get back there
Your face, your race, the way that you talk
I kiss you, you’re beautiful, I want you to walk

Bowie – Changes

Today mark’s the release of a new David Bowie single, Blackstar, also the title track of his 25th Studio album to be released on Bowie’s birthday next year.

dare-death-of-rock-n-roll600-1[1]The Fred Perry Subculture website has an extract from a David Laurie book, called Dare. I have to admit, I found a couple of the claims somewhat troubling.

How Bowie & Kraftwerk Inspired The Death of Rock’N’Roll

Screams the subhead, and book cover, along with

[David Bowie and Kraftwerk] invented modern pop music

I admit, I have not read the book. While I can see some validity in the death claim, except I doubt anyone in the US would actually agree Rock and Roll is dead, even today. I just don’t agree that Kraftwerk, and/or Bowie invented modern pop music.

David Lauire says of himself “David Laurie was 14 in 1982, living in an endlessly damp, grey South Wales”. Coincidentally, 10-years before that, as a 14-year old, in April of 1972, I was watching David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars in High Wycombe.

There is no doubt about his influence then, but I do think this is taking what Bowie did, and fitting it to a chosen narrative. ie “Can you write about how Bowie invented modern pop music?”.

Rather than Bowie being and driving the change, what he really did, more than possibly anyone else, was make the changes to himself, his own music, to stay relevant. The changes would have happened without him, it was his realization and ability to move with the changes that set him aside from his peers… The Soul diva persona was a direct response to the dance music revolution that had started in earnest in 1972 in London and was growing rapidly through the mid-70’s. Glam Rock was dead…

I’d argue, somewhat more tenuously, that his electronic music, and man who fell to earth period was little more than Bowie thrashing around trying to find a way to be relevant with the emergence of punk, and equally more electronic music, along with Eno two guys with history, trying to find a future. The Berlin Trilogy a good justification for this, it wasn’t until the b-side of Lodger, with it’s more traditional Alomar guitar riffs, and more regular beat that Bowie found his rhythm again, and this continued on Scary Monsters.

So, yes no one predicted his new personas, because at the time, only the people dependent on the Bowie income stream cared. Pop culture, fashion and youth movements wait for no man…

“Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time”