Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Star Man

I was first aware of David Bowie when watching an episode of Top of the Pops and seeing him, arm in arm with Mick Ronson, as they mimed to Starman. This being early 1972, an androgynous, orange-haired creature flouting sexual conformity was unusual to put it mildly. This was a time dominated by Benny Hill and Love thy Neighbour, neither paragons of acceptance of the rights of others to be, or express, who they were. My first purchase of his music was Aladdin Sane (on its release), but I cannot admit to having been an early adopter of all things Bowie. It was several years later that I quickly purchased his back catalogue and wondered how on earth I had existed without knowing the delights to be found there.

He wan't just a musical genius, he was also a whirlwind of productivity. Compared to artists of recent times, his album output in the early 1970s was staggering: Hunky Dory (released 17 December 1971), Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (released 16 June 1972), Aladdin Sane (released 13 April 1973), Pin Ups (released 19 October 1973) and Diamond Dogs (released 24 May 1974). Remember, apart from Pin Ups (a covers album), he wrote almost all of the songs, played and sang on every track and either produced, or joint produced them. During this spell he also co-produced Lou Reed's Transformer (another seminal album) and wrote and produced All the Young Dudes for Mott the Hoople. If all that wasn't enough, he toured from Jan 1972 until July 1973 playing a staggering 170 shows, taking in the UK, the USA and Japan. On some of these dates he played two shows. This doesn't take into account all of the TV and press commitments that he needed to do. Phenomenal. Just this select body of work, a mere three years in a 50+ year career, can stand alone as a towering monument to his ability. He had another burst of sublime creativity when he took himself off to Berlin and crafted three critically acclaimed albums. The terrific Low, Heroes and Lodger. The first two were released within nine months of each other.

Images released on his 69th birthday - just two days before his death - show a happy and vibrant man. And, considering all that was going on with him, looking undeniably cool. Maybe only Mr. David Jones of Brixton could pull off that particular feat. He certainly raged against the dying of the light...

13 comments:

  1. The last few days since D B's death have been strange for me because although I admired a couple of his songs, "Ashes to Ashes" being the best, I have never felt inspired enough to buy his stuff. However listening to the Bowie blitz on the radio on Monday I was surprised to find how many memories of particular times in my life that those songs recalled.
    Other than that, I "found" Bob Dylan in 1964 and despite other musical fads over the years, he still remains far above anybody else in my eyes and has been on his "Never Ending Tour" since the 1980's which is what can be called a real tour.

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    1. Derek, I admire Dylan the songwriter but could never get along with Dylan the performer. My loss.

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  2. I was terribly sad, he was an icon to me. BTW there are doubts those images were taken at the time some on twitter have claimed.

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    1. Thanks for pointing that out Simon, post amended accordingly.

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  3. Steve - Losing Lemmy was bad enough, now Ziggy - it's been a bad few weeks. My memories of Bowie are from a time when The Spiders from Mars were his band. Mick Ronson was at the top of his game and the music flowed. When Brian Eno and David Bowie collaborated to write Heroes - the rest could only ever be down-hill. I am so very lucky to have experienced this era, first hand, and seen the pitiful attempts to emulate such rock icons in this modern time.
    Steve we've been very fortunate to have been present during such wondrous musical, birding and angling periods of ground breaking discovery - Let's Dance!

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    1. Dyl, our era of 'life on Earth' has indeed coincided with much to be thankful for - and doubly lucky for where we were born and raised. Luck writ large!

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    2. Here, here lads, I was 'forced' to listen to Ziggy in 1972, aged 8 the year my mother died, by my sister. I used to lie on the bed, legs in the air up against the wall, reading the lyrics from the inner album sleeve, a fantastic album that stands the test even today...

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    3. Bittersweet memories there Stewart...

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  4. Steve, what a sad week. In case you missed it, Johnnie Walker dedicated the first hour of his Sunday afternoon show yesterday to the great man. It was a terrific appreciation of Bowie and definitely worth a listen on the iplayer.

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    1. Hi Paul. Funnily enough I listened to it as a drove back home from Pulborough Brooks. I didn't realise that 'All the Young Dudes' had been ear-marked to appear on the 'Ziggy Stardust' album. That album is almost perfect enough, but with the addition of that anthem... well. The best would have become even better.

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  5. Indeed, the depths of the mans talent showed no bounds

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