David Bowie - Blackstar
Blackstar really is the greatest title. Like Lemmy a few days before, he made it to his birthday then switched out the light forever. I try not to cry but what do you know, it’s going to happen anyway. Like it’s going to happen anyway that if you saw him live you will be speechless. Because he was the brightest star and lit up the whole building the moment he walked on stage.
Some people just switch on the moment they are public. They are very rare those top level ones. You didn’t even have to know the songs, they work on you immediately, his timing, passion in voice and most of all, that face it all gripped you like looking at the Gorgon’s eyes. You were transfixed. Not by evil but by absolute class with a bit of fun thrown in.
Like for example Miles Davis, David Bowie borrowed and equally added. He loved music and composed music. He would not stay in one place creatively just because it worked once. He thought it fun to reference Kraftwerk or Drum and Bass or Scott Walker, Brel, you name it, he name checked it. He appreciated.
I saw the Serious Moonlight tour. For many this was a low point. For me it was shockingly good. I didn’t quite get Bowie as Ziggy but jumped around to the Jean Genie, I liked but not till the Heroes period did I love. When I saw that Wembley show I got It, he was the most charismatic individual I have ever seen on a stage, I was gobsmacked.
He projected something it’s hard to put into words, you never forget what you witnessed. A mutual excitement that seemed so genuine, the atmosphere he created was so charged with human electricity. I realised I hadn’t taken my hand out of my hair for an hour and my mouth was just gawping. A true and very human superstar.
I first met David Bowie when he was looking for backing musicians
I first met David Bowie when he was looking for backing musicians to mime in his ‘Jazzin’ for Blue Jean’ video. Turned out he was personally overseeing the cast, I was 24 and had just recently started The Woodentops and begun singing.
I was led into a dark room and he was sat next to Julien Temple. He eyed me up as I entered the room, he just stared at me and smiled.
“Hello, what’s your name?”
“Wow that’s a great name” he said, ”what do you play?”
I accidentally said “I sing”. It sounded so cheeky. He laughed, not a belly laugh more a chuckle between friends. Warm and not mocking in any way, “Well I think that’s my job here” he said, still fixing me with those unmistakable eyes and grinning.
I couldn’t believe I had just said that. Had it not been for the fact I was a bit out of it already at 11am I perhaps would have been embarrassed by my cheek, but I had been put up for the job by my dancer girlfriend at the time who was already in it, we needed the cash! I had been a bit dragged in there.
“Oh I play bass as well.”
“Ah! I see yes we need one of those, I am looking for musicians to make up a band. Thanks very much for coming in could you wait around a few minutes.”
I left somewhat amazed by the experience and had got a really good feeling from him, “nice guy” I thought. I did get a job in it, got paid but I admit I hid from the camera best I could, making up the number. You can’t see me.
Then a couple of years later David Bowie invited The Woodentops to perform with him in London at the Dominion Tottenham Court Road, for the ICA. I wondered did he remember me or something? I can’t remember if he asked me if I had a band and its name.
At soundcheck there he was at the side of the stage watching and jiggling about, loving it. I thought I was seeing things, nope, it was him. A bit later the keyboard player burst into the dressing room vibrating and hardly able to speak. She choked out “I just bumped into David Bowie in the corridor, he told me to tell you something. “Please tell Rolo I’ve got all the records, I mean all of them, I love it, I’m your greatest fan, thanks for doing the show”. “
I am now his fan more than I ever knew I was, I’ve been gutted all day so far. I know how sweet a character he was and how deeply destroyed those close to him must be. We are teary eyed around the world because we all have a song or two at least, that we always love to hear. Some of us loved the entire catalogue, some since he first appeared on the scene. The voice of our generation or two or three!
Bright Star now Black Star, gone forever. A proper Artist with a voice and a presence you will always recognise and never forget and a funny gentleman. The best you can get.