David Bowie and me

David Bowie in 1969 and 1995.

Ch-ch-ch-changes: David Bowie in 1969 and 1995. 
As Bowie releases his first album in 10 years, we find out what he’s really like from friends, lovers, bandmates… and the man who directed him in SpongeBob SquarePants

George Underwood, artist and lifelong friend

I met David when we were both nine, enrolling for St Mary’s boy scouts in Bromley. Even then he’d go in and out of things quickly: skiffle, hairstyles.

When we formed the King Bees, he wrote to John Bloom, the Richard Branson of his time, saying, “Brian Epstein‘s got the Beatles. You need us.” Anyone who’s got the guts to do that isn’t going to worry about dressing up as Ziggy Stardust.

At school, this kid, Brian Gill, had big sideburns and the headmaster told him to shave them off. Brian told him to “fuck off” and quit school. David was full of admiration and later it seeped into the “Weird and Gilly” line in Ziggy Stardust. And Jean Genie was from Jean Genet – I was strumming this John Lee Hooker riff on a bus and David said, “Pass the guitar over here”, reworked the riff and wrote Jean Genie just like that.

He took my wife and me on the QE2 when Ziggy went to America, and went to dinner in a Ziggy catsuit. After that, he wouldn’t come out of his cabin. He said, “They were all looking at me.” I said, “What do you expect?” Another time, he came out of the bathroom and he’d shaved off his eyebrows.

He’s an emotional, passionate person who put everything into the music. I’ve seen him in the studio burst out crying after finishing a song – Life On Mars springs to mind. After some gigs, he’d say, “The audience were a bit quiet.” I’d say, “David, they’re staring at you with their mouths open.”

He had created this fierce storm, but he was the only one in it. He felt as if everyone was feeding off him, like leeches. To me, he’s always been the same. I don’t see enough of him now. It’s mainly email, but he once said to me, “George, I might not see you for five years, but it doesn’t matter.”

We fell out once, when we were 15. David told me a date of mine had cancelled, so she waited for an hour. I punched him. A week later, my dad said, “You never told me you hit David Jones.” It turned out he’d been rushed to hospital and almost lost the sight in his eye. Instead, it turned a different colour. Years later he said, “You did me a favour.” People wrote to him saying, “I’m from the same planet as you, man, and it ain’t Earth.”

Ken Scott, produced several early Bowie albums

When David gets into a character, he gets into it 110%, for good and bad. When the drugs kicked in, he didn’t start slowly: he was up and running. With each one, he became the character he was trying to portray.

I’ve heard so many interpretations of that song The Bewlay Brothers – supposedly about his brother, Terry. He told me, “You won’t understand the lyrics. I wrote it for the American market. They’ll read so much into anything you give them.” You never quite knew when he was being honest. It’s not something I realised at the time, but seeing various different explanations in interviews of something I’d know about, I’d think, “Ah, so that’s what you’re like!”

I always email him on his birthday, to remind him he’s four months older than me.

Dana Gillespie, singer and teenage squeeze

I met David in 1962 when he played the Marquee. I was brushing my hair and he took the brush and carried on brushing. He asked if he could stay at my home – a way of saying he’d missed the last train. I had a single bed, so it was a tight squeeze. I introduced him to my parents the next morning. His hair was so long, they thought he was a girl.

People were interested in me because of how I looked – tits, skirt up to here – but David carried my ballet shoes, taught me guitar and was very encouraging. I visited his parents. I’d never been into a working-class household, where people sat in silence glued to the television set. His brother was in the mental hospital and we went to see him. One time David said, “Whatever I do, I want to get out of here. I do not want to live like this.”

We had a fling, but not really a love affair. One day he said, “I’d like you to meet somebody,” and that was Angie Bowie. One of the biographies says we were lesbians together, but we were just good mates. David was cool, calm, collected and cold, but after Angie had Zowie, she went to Italy with me and David was on the phone every day saying, “I miss you. Come back,” so there is emotion there.

When he fell out with the management company, he fled to Berlin. It’s sad when your best pals are too damaged to speak to you. I met [guitarist] Mick Ronson years later and he said, “David doesn’t speak to me.” I don’t think he wanted to face up to the hurt he’d caused by breaking up the Spiders From Mars, but he needed American musicians to do something different.

Lindsay Kemp, taught Bowie dance and mime

In 1967, a mutual friend told me about David and gave me his first album. I fell in love with his plaintive voice. I played When I Live My Dreambefore a show in London, and David was flattered, came backstage and fell in love with my world. He started dance classes with me the next day.

He often arrived for classes bleary-eyed, but was a very diligent student. I taught him to dance and mime. We both liked silent films – he’d impersonate Laurel and Hardy. I never saw David’s hard, ambitious side. He was always gentle.

We toured together in a theatrical show called Pierrot In Turquoise. It was love at first sight for me, but I found out he was seeing a dear friend of mine, Natasha Korniloff, the show’s costume designer, at the same time as having an affair with me. Of course I wasn’t the only love in his life. There were scores, even then. When the tour reached Whitehaven, I heard noises through the wall: it was David and Natasha, who hadn’t known I was seeing David. After that, he couldn’t go to Natasha’s bed and he certainly couldn’t go to mine, so he spent three nights sleeping in a chair, the tortured martyr. I drank a bottle of whiskey and rode my bicycle into the sea, but the water was so cold I staggered back to the theatre and cut my wrist. They found me slumped on the floor. A few hours after being taken to hospital, I was on stage, blood seeping through my Pierrot costume – a fabulous dramatic effect, but I’d been desperately in love.

Three years later, Angela [Bowie] told me David wanted me to direct theZiggy Stardust show at the Rainbow. After that, I saw him very rarely, the last time in Bologna about 15 years ago. He kept me waiting for hours and was surrounded by heavies. He seemed very detached, like an alien. I didn’t feel comfortable, but I’d love to see him again.

“Whispering” Bob Harris, DJ and friend in Bowie’s early days

I first saw David in a folky act called Feathers. He was very polite and surprisingly “English”. A couple of years earlier, he’d been interviewed when he’d founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men, but he’d just had a short back and sides for a bit part in a film.

It was a fantastic, creative time. I lived with a mobile DJ and he’d double-booked himself, so I took David with me to a college gig. I introduced him, he played Space Oddity and they started slow handclapping. I was so angry I took the microphone and said, “Remember this name: David Bowie. He’s going to be a star and you’ll remember the day you booed him off stage.”

Even then it struck me that while the surface David was very warm and exciting, he was closed off. He went behind some kind of mask: the make-up, the Lindsay Kemp mime thing. I counted him as one of the closest people in my life, but once he became successful, he was unreachable. I think to get to that level of stardom, you’ve got to have a very high degree of self-absorption. Recently, when I was involved with the Sound & Vision charity for Cancer Research, David immediately donated something. He can be very distant, but on this occasion he really wasn’t.

Mick “Woody” Woodmansey, Spiders From Mars drummer

When we met, he was wearing red trousers, red shoes with blue stars, a rainbow T-shirt and bangles. In Hull, where I’m from, even the girls didn’t wear bracelets. I saw him in the Man Who Sold The World dress once. He said it was a man’s dress. When he announced he was gay, we were all surprised. Angie was bisexual, but I never saw any evidence of it with David. But he was very good at creating in the moment. If he ever had an idea and we said, “We’re not doing that,” he’d push it until we did.

When we lived together in Beckenham, I never saw him do any household tasks and he wasn’t mechanically minded. His car, a Riley, was his pride and joy. He once left it in gear, turned the starting handle and it ran him over.

There was a lot of pressure on him. We went on holiday to Cyprus and the plane got hit by lightning. He went white and fainted. He was so emaciated from the hard work, you could see the veins on his face. He didn’t fly after that.

David Bowie with Geeling Ng in the China Girl videoDavid Bowie with Geeling Ng in the China Girl video in 1983In the early days, we’d have a laugh, go clubbing, but later on it became apparent that he’d gone into character. You’d come off stage and he’d do interviews as Ziggy – you’d be sat in a taxi with this alien. You’d ask a question and he’d look right through you. He had turned into Ziggy Stardust.

Geeling Ng, starred in the China Girl video

Acting opposite David was terrifying, because he had a long history as a performer and I was a model and waitress. And in the storyline we were meant to be intimate. The first album I’d ever bought was Ziggy Stardust and I owned all his others, so it was overawing, but he was really generous as a performer. There’s a scene where I sit up suddenly, as if woken from a dream, and David leaps on top of me, and I sat up and gave him a full Liverpool kiss in the face. “Oh my God, I’ve just killed David Bowie!” But he laughed and said, “I’ve got a hard head.”

He was unfailingly polite, charming and a gentleman. For us to act as boyfriend and girlfriend, we did the obvious thing in Sydney – purely as method acting. After the shoot, I got a call: “Do you want to come to Europe with me?” I became a bit of a groupie for two weeks. I knew it was a passing phase. I was 23, we lived in different worlds, but he gave me an experience that I’ll never forget. We were whisked out of back doors of hotels, flying in private jets, David hiding from fans under a rug in the limousine. It was like being in the movies.

Toni Basil, choreographed the Diamond Dogs and Glass Spider tours

David has the greatest work ethic. Other performers freak out and get unpleasant, but he has incredible fortitude. He had a fear of heights, but it didn’t stop him. He got in a cherry picker for Space Oddity, and managed to sing and dance. He’s very funny. He’s a fabulous actor. He knows what he’s capable of, and will suss it out and research it. And he’s drop-dead gorgeous. He’d have made a great James Bond.

Julien Temple, directed Bowie in pop videos and Absolute Beginners

He asked me to do the Jazzin’ For Blue Jean video. He had a funny perspective on rock stardom and wanted to take the piss out of himself, portraying a side of himself he’d kept hidden. It was risky, because part of Bowie’s power is mystique. One minute he’d be walking down Frith Street with people open-mouthed, touching him, then I’d be walking next to a very normal bloke. He took me to West End dive bars that had been there since the 60s, and everyone knew him from the old days.

I’m not sure how happy he is with fame and I think the 70s character roles were a way of dealing with it, in the same way Keith Richardsbecame a junkie. There is a normal version of David, but I’ve seen him before he goes on stage and he somehow has the ability to will himself into something magnetic and incandescent.

Roger Taylor, Queen drummer

I got to know David when he was living in Switzerland. He was the most charming man, probably one of the most talented, charismatic people I’ve ever been involved with: great company, very funny and a brilliantly dangerous mind – interesting dark corners. I haven’t seen him for years. I probably shouldn’t say this but – ha! – I remember him saying he was quite annoyed that the Spiders wouldn’t cut off their mullets.

Sterling Campbell, drummer

David doesn’t talk down to you – he makes you feel like an equal. But I didn’t meet Ziggy. I met him in another place. Working with David, there’s a lot of comedy. He was the first person to turn me on to The Office. He was getting it sent from England. He’s an extremely funny man. There’ll be an ongoing joke at dinner, or on stage he might be going up on the catwalk and, when no one can see, he’ll turn round and make a really funny face.

Tony Selznick, taught Bowie to roller-skate for the Day-In Day-Out video

David came across as very humble and in between careers, almost. He was disillusioned with the music industry. I taught him to skate in a parking lot. We shot the video on Hollywood Boulevard at night, with me in a wig and leather jacket as his double for some scenes. The only bad fall involved the instructor: my wheels came off, I was bleeding everywhere, and David helped me clean up. He was so nice, normal. A couple of years later I was driving down Sunset and he pulled up alongside. I rolled down the window and he was really approachable, just like any other dad in a Lexus.

Adrian Belew, guitarist

David knows so much, the conversation never gets dull. When I first worked with him in the late 1970s, I was a naive youngster from Kentucky and he was like a mentor to me. One time, we went to the Prado in Madrid and he amazed me with his knowledge of paintings and painters. He knew all this wonderful trivia that made my museum visit so much more interesting. David Bowie as museum tour guide! I tipped him at the end.

On the 1990 Sound And Vision tour, he was much less guarded and seemed to want to be the person diving in the pool with everyone else. We both had girl problems, so would sob on each other’s shoulders, but that tour was a life-changer for us both. I met my wife. On the plane he was looking through magazines and I heard him say to his assistant, “This girl’s interesting.” That was Iman. After the tour, I heard they were dating, and the rest is history.

Tim Pope, video director

I’d become friends with Iggy Pop and at one show he said, “I’ve got a couple of friends joining us.” I look around and it’s Bowie and Jagger. We went to this restaurant and when Iggy went for a pee, there was a space between us. He turned to me and said “Tim Pope. You’re a funny little arsehole, aren’t you?” and I went, “Yeah, David Bowie, and you’re a complete…” I won’t say the word. And that was the start of a beautiful relationship.

He’s incredibly physically strong, a muscly bloke, not a willowy thing. In one shot we tied a camera to him and if he had fallen over, it would have broken his back. He has a real commitment.

I worked with him for 15 years. For some reason I brought out this character I called the Guv, who was like a London cab driver. There’s the legend, but he has that person in him.

I was once in a studio with him and Lou Reed, and I saw them in the kitchen and just had to sneak in to hear what they were talking about. Lou was saying that he was going to Africa and David said, “The thing is, you go to these places and you forget the climate’s changed. I bought a bowl and by the time I got home it had cracked.” It was the least esoteric conversation I could imagine between Lou Reed and David Bowie.

Paul Tibbitt, recruited Bowie to provide a voice for animated TV series SpongeBob SquarePants

We asked David if he would be interested in voicing Lord Royal Highness. He jumped at the chance, because he and his daughter watched SpongeBob together. I flew to New York to direct him. Who in their right mind would pass up that opportunity? The next day on his blog he called the job “the Holy Grail of animation gigs”. Needless to say, that made my year.

Édouard Lock, choreographer and artistic director on world tours

I got to know David quite well, but there is a reserve, a part that isn’t for public consumption and doesn’t get revealed – or perhaps it does to people who know him much more than I do.

When he was feeling social, it almost felt like a triangle: you, him and this thing he wanted to talk about. He was fascinating and wanted to share his knowledge and educate. He liked logic, thought puzzles, memory stuff. The non-serious side to him came out when things seemed tense.

I don’t know if performing changed him. I think he went through what he had to to get at those performances. It’s partly losing your anonymity and also going into the most uncomfortable places in your psyche.

Kenneth Pitt, manager from 1966 to 1970

He had this marvellous way of bringing one of his legs up under him and rocking backwards and forwards, and he was doing this while we were working out what to do, and he got dreadfully excited. Then I had to live up to his excitement. We made life-size models of the Beatles, which he used for publicity. That didn’t last long. We were walking down Baker Street with them and who should approach us but one of the Beatles?

He used to rehearse late at night at home and because they lived in a tiny house, it was very bad for his father, who wasn’t well. David told me this and I said, “I think you’d better move in here,” and he burst into tears, saying, “May I? Really?” He lived at my place for about two years. My clothes were his clothes. I took a lot of pictures of him and there’s one where he’s wearing my lumber jacket and I just knew he was going to make it. He was very polite – splendid, really.

When Angie and David came to tell me they were firing me, he sat looking at the wall and again there were tears in his eyes. I’m 90 now and hadn’t seen him for years, but about four years ago there was a knock at my door and it was David. He didn’t seem too well, but we talked for over an hour. It was a lovely thing to do.

Geoff MacCormack, lifelong friend

David is a too-far person. He doesn’t drink any more because he took that too far. He lives a very clean life now, but I’m sure he’s obsessing about something else. When he moved to Switzerland for a while he started skiing. I remember thinking, “Bowie? Skiing?!”

David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Ricky GardinerOn stage with Iggy Pop (left) and Ricky Gardiner (centre) in 1978: ‘Back then he was very spontaneous.’ Photograph: Getty ImagesBut he’s a very normal, gracious person. People are surprised by that. When we went to the Museum of Modern Art, his instinct was to queue with everyone else. I saw him recently and it was the same old in-jokes, slight competitiveness on silly things. We went bowling with Iman and his daughter. Iman found it hilarious that we were so competitive. He’s got the time and money now to watch his child grow up, which he didn’t have with Duncan [Zowie], so he’s taking time to be a family man, walking around New York in a flat cap.

Ricky Gardiner, guitarist during the Berlin period

I remember David as being extremely well-read in the areas that interested him. His apartment had a well-stocked library on astrology, UFOs, oriental music and psychic phenomena. Nearby, there were bullet holes in the walls and David took us to a place where they ran the Nazi propaganda films 24/7. We rehearsed at the old UFA studios, where those films were made, and one could see guards pacing the wall atHansa studios. The atmosphere was laden with the resonance of the war. We stayed at the old Schlosshotel Gerhus, and one night we happened on this Nazi commemorative event. We must have seemed as odd to them as they did to us, in their Nazi regalia, dancing in formation like dummies.

David’s new single, Where Are We Now?, is just beautiful, and retrospectively captures the sentiments we felt then, which were not easy to express at the time. He was very spontaneous. Always Crashing In The Same Car is about him crashing his Mercedes in the hotel garage.

Mike Garson, keyboards, Bowie’s longest-serving musician

I was hired in 1972 for eight weeks, and for the next two years he had five different bands, all of whom were fired or left except me. Then, around 1975, after we’d finished the Young Americans tour, I was visiting him in New York and he said, “Mike, you’re going to be with me for the next 20 years.” And I don’t hear from him for 17 years. He gets on the phone in 1992 and asks me back for Black Tie, White Noise, and I stay for more albums and tours than I can remember.

I’ve seen him joyous over something he’s created and other times, just before going on stage, [full of] nerves and fear and vulnerability. When he played Glastonbury to 100,000 people, he sent me out first, to test the waters. He once told me, “You wouldn’t want to be in my shoes,” about fame and what it does to you. I don’t think he cares about the spotlight as much as people think.

After [his heart attack in 2004], I did the first performance with him and Alicia Keys. He said, “Thank you. If I hadn’t done this and got over the fear, I might not have been able to sing again.”

David has an extraordinary gift, but he’s basically a normal guy. We’re friends, but he’s an isolated person. With most big stars, the vanity and the power and the money take over. Maybe he’s experienced that and didn’t like that feeling.

Sometimes, others get left in the dust, but one always has the opportunity to fix that. We’ve never discussed this, but I could feel an undercurrent of regret. He did fix it with Mick Ronson before Mick’s death. In his own way, he does repair it. Underneath all the crap you read in books, David is a good guy.

Zachary Alford, drummer on recent tours and albums, including the forthcoming The Next Day

When I met David, I was starstruck. Our eyes met and I had to look down. But he puts you at ease. This wasn’t the version of him you hear about, high on cocaine. I felt safe. If you’re not partying, you have interesting conversations, usually around art or history. I was reading Roman Life In The Days Of Cicero, which he found interesting, but we could as soon be talking about Peter Cook or Spike Milligan. Until recently I hadn’t seen him in a decade. He called and asked, “Are you available? I can’t say what it’s about.” When we got together, I was amazed how good he looked, because I’d seen pictures of him. He’s stopped smoking. He works out. He looks better than he has in 15 years. When I heard Where Are We Now? I cried. It was a mixture of happiness that it was being released, that it sounded gorgeous, and hearing this vulnerability in a person that I know and think of as almost superhuman.

Trevor Bolder : Spiders from Mars / Uriah Heep Reveals Cancer Battle

Back in January, Uriah Heep bassist Trevor Bolder disclosed that he’d be taking a break from the band to undergo surgery. At the time his illness had not been publicly confirmed but online rumors pointed towards a heart attack. In a recent interview Bolder sets the record straight, confirming that the operation was actually for cancer, not for a heart attack.

“I had pancreas cancer so I had to have that removed. Not the entire pancreas — but still, it was bad news,” Bolder explained to Classic Rock magazine about the harrowing experience. “They’ve cut out the bad bit. I’ve had a bit of chemo, got to have that, which I’m doing now, in case there’s anything hanging about,” he continued. “Once that’s done, I should be back to doing what I do for a living.”

Although Bolder admits that the life-altering news originally left him “shell-shocked,” he’s already moved past that phase and is focusing on his continuing recovery. He hopes that can get into his home studio soon and write some new songs. But for right now he’s taking it easy, noting, “I need to get my concentration back, to be honest, because I get tired real quick at the moment.”

So the good news is that Bolder is on the mend and well on his way to getting back on the stage. “In a couple of months I should be back to normal and doing roadwork with Uriah Heep,” said Bolder. “Originally, I was told it would be nine months. I’ve gone private now and they say it should be four months – as long as I take it steady.”

In addition to rejoining Uriah Heep, Bolder also mentioned that there’s a possible Spiders From Mars reunion show in the works, with a Christmas timeframe in mind.

So here’s to taking it steady and a speedy recovery for Trevor!


Trevor . left at this pic ..

David Bowie : Usaba pulseras Peruanas en los 70’s

They were the exotic first couple of glam rock, dressed alike in silk kimonos with bleached hair, Angie and David Bowie shocked Britain in the Seventies with tales of cross-dressing, drugs and bisexual liaisons. But their often stormy life together informed the classic Bowie characters Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin sane and the Thin White Duke. Their marriage went on to collapse in acrimonious divorce but it was for Angie that Bowie wrote some of his most tender songs. Here Angie, now 63, shares her views on Bowie’s latest single and reveals the inspiration behind the music.

The fans would take everything they could. Even David’s pair of Peruvian wedding bands, which he wore on his wrists, were often taken from him.

ziggy cucho peñaloza


Bowie usando pulseras Peruanas como Ziggy Stradust 


After his self-imposed silence of the past decade, suddenly David Bowie fans are spoiled for choice.

Not only do we have David’s first new music for what seems like an age, but also a major retrospective exhibition opening next month at London’s V&A.

But as I listen to his new single Where Are We Now? I can’t help but wonder what happened to the musical innovator. I’m not trying to be unkind, but I can’t escape the feeling that the retro-introspective mood of the song has one message – ‘I’m not going to be here much longer, let’s talk about the past.’

Exotic: Angie and David Bowie, pictured in 1974, were known as the first couple of glam rock and shocked Seventies Britain with their wild anticsExotic: Angie and David Bowie, pictured in 1974, were known as the first couple of glam rock and shocked Seventies Britain with their wild antics

There’s nothing about the sound that’s new, either. The subject matter is tired – it’s a nostalgic look back to the last time he was at the forefront of pop music.

And, worst of all, the record romanticises and mythologises a period of David’s career I recall with distaste. What I remember of Berlin – where David lived for three years in the late Seventies – is lots of sitting around nightclubs, with David pretending he was an extra from Cabaret witnessing the rise of the Nazis.

His life then seemed to be all about Romy Haag, the transsexual cabaret singer then making a name for herself as a modern-day Sally Bowles.

To his fans, David was just being another of his characters. But I suspect the main audience for this latest performance was me.

Our marriage was over. My father had fought in the Second World War and David knew that I would have no truck with fascism.

David always pushed the boundaries and I think that by flirting with Nazi Germany, he was – if only subconsciously – pushing  me past the limits of what I considered acceptable.

Critique: Angie Bowie, pictured today, says her former husband's latest single has a 'retro-introspective' mood and the subject matter is 'tired'

In the years before, I had been not only his wife but his stage manager. I looked after security, the costumes, lighting, stage design and the sound. I wanted everything to be perfect to bring his creative vision to life.

Was I a trained professional? No. But I was smart and I was open to new ideas. We knew TV exposure was key if we wanted to sell out the big concert halls.

But the BBC didn’t know what to do with David. Eventually, Starman went up the charts and they had no choice but to put him on Top Of The Pops and the David Bowie phenomenon took off.

When I first met David, I was a student at Kingston Polytechnic. I was already friendly with Lou Reizner and Calvin Mark Lee of Mercury Records. Calvin was convinced David was a star and that his androgynous appeal was right for the times. Lou wasn’t so keen and it fell to me to convince the record label bosses to sign him. Which I did.

After the contract was signed, Calvin asked me to cheer up David, who was nursing a broken heart. We went to dinner and then danced to King Crimson at the Speakeasy Club.

The chemistry was there but I fought hard for months to stop it becoming a romantic relationship. David had lovers everywhere, yet our working relationship developed into something much more. We married in March 1970.

Our son Duncan was born in May 1971 and then we really got busy! We hired guitarist Mick Ronson and The Spiders From Mars came into being. We were on the road constantly and what a time we had!

David and I were fascinated by space travel. He had already written Space Oddity by the time we met and the record was released just in time for the Apollo 11 Moon landing. David, myself and a group of friends clustered around the black-and-white television set as Neil Armstrong made his giant step for mankind.

Space travel inspired much of David’s work. His big breakthrough came when he invented Ziggy Stardust, a character he said would look as if he came from Mars. Starman was the first single from the album The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, in July 1972.

While recording Ziggy Stardust, David decided he wanted to cut his hair. He said: ‘I want it to look different. What if I were to dye it red?’ I bought an armful of magazines and we went through them until David found one he liked. Suzie Fussey, who worked in a salon in Beckenham, Kent, did a lovely job, as you can see on the Ziggy Stardust cover. She later married Spiders guitarist Mick Ronson.

Creative: Angie and David's stormy life together informed many of his characters such as Aladdin SaneCreative: Angie and David’s stormy life together informed many of his characters such as Aladdin Sane
Star power: Davud Bowie's music career took off after he invented Ziggy Stardust, a character he said would look as if he came from MarsStar power: Davud Bowie’s music career took off after he invented Ziggy Stardust, a character he said would look as if he came from Mars

That hairstyle had a definite effect on David. It made him look stronger and wilder and, if possible, even more sexually ambivalent. It needed a lot of maintenance, making him become more self-conscious and narcissistic. It wasn’t long before David Jones had transformed himself into Ziggy, a lithe, red-headed, face-painted, polysexual alien.

The costume he wore on Top Of The Pops – and which will be a key exhibit in the V&A exhibition – was designed by Freddie Buretti, whom we had spotted at a gay disco in London. Freddie was so handsome, wearing white spandex hotpants and a short-sleeved sailor shirt. We quickly became friends and he made all the clothes for our various promotional campaigns.

To make life easier for all the fittings, Freddie came to live with us at Haddon Hall, an Edwardian mansion in Beckenham, converted into apartments. It was David and my first real home together and we transformed it into a grand living space. We decorated it with Burmese sideboards, a Japanese jigsaw desk, and a piano. We went to the docks and bought wonderful silk Chinese and Persian rugs.

At the local antique store on Beckenham High Street, I bought a walnut bed from France with a marquetry headboard. It was a great place to sit and work. David wrote the lyrics for Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust sitting cross-legged on that bed in his yellow Stirling Cooper sailor pants.

Come back: After his self-imposed silence of the past decade David Bowie fans have been treated to new music from the starCome back: After his self-imposed silence of the past decade David Bowie fans have been treated to new music from the star

Watching David write was inspiring to me. He was at his most content composing. Music floated from his mind and fingertips. He would strum the 11 strings on his 12-string Harptone guitar and wander to the piano and play a few bars, then off to forage for rice pudding in the kitchen. After some run-throughs, he would pad into wherever I was and say: ‘Come hear this.’

The tall ceilings and plaster and wood of Haddon Hall complemented the sound of all musical instruments. I felt like we were in a magical place and the melodies and ideas filled us with resolve to be totally successful. Haddon Hall was always full of people. Musicians, artists, designers all gathered.

We had some wonderful, crazy times. One of my best memories was a dinner party with Lionel Bart, the legendary composer of Oliver! David played early studio mixes from Ziggy Stardust. Lionel proclaimed it a rock opera.

I’ll never forget David’s stunned and delighted face as he absorbed the consequences of the compliment. I shopped at Liberty and at Brick Lane in the East End for fabrics. For David’s clothes, I went to Sloane Street and places in Chelsea,  New York – a clothing store called Vintage Hallowe’en and Paradise Bootery.

The Mary Quant lamé  T-shirts in every colour were available at any department store.Strangely enough, I received my greatest compliment at this time. David’s manager Tony Defries noticed that many of the girl fans were copying the way I dressed.

One night, he said: ‘We’ve got seven or eight Angies sitting out in the audience.’ I was astounded. And so was David. I caught sight of one girl. A platinum-haired teenager who was very pretty and had got herself a dark-green woollen dress like the one I had been seen out in only a week before. Even her hairstyle and make-up were identical.

Kansai Yamamoto was one of Japan’s top avant-garde designers. David loved his costumes and insisted on several for the Ziggy tour of Japan and Europe in 1973.

David’s shows were received ecstatically everywhere we went, which was wonderful for him, but very hard on the costumes.

After every show, it had to be rushed back to Kansai’s studio and painstakingly repaired and beads re-attached. The black-and-red leather, hand-painted, short-legged jump suit was a big favourite of David’s.

Costumes have a short life and David needed 30 pairs of trousers and as many jackets at the start of his tours and sometimes even that wasn’t enough. Shirts were lost by the hundreds. The fans would take everything they could. Even David’s pair of Peruvian wedding bands, which he wore on his wrists, were often taken from him.

Outrageous: Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto designed this striped vuinyl bodysuit for the singerOutrageous: Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto designed this striped vuinyl bodysuit for the singer

David was fascinated by people who had explored the depths of human experience. He was curious about everything and inspired by George Orwell’s 1984 and Beat Generation author William Burroughs’s The Wild Boys. David met Burroughs in New York, along with Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and Andy Warhol.

In New York, all the components of the Diamond Dogs tour – models and story, stage show and the songs – transformed our hotel suites into studios of theatrical production and design. The lyrics for the Diamond Dogs album were inspired by Burroughs. I wasn’t there when Burroughs showed David how he wrote prose and then cut up each line, throwing them into the air to see where they landed.

David wrote many of the songs for Aladdin Sane on his 1972 tour of America but The Prettiest Star dates back to Christmas 1969. I was staying with my parents in Cyprus when he phoned and sang it down the phone to me. Two days later, I was back in London and our first stop was the recording studio, where Marc Bolan was adding the guitar solo. I was crazy about Aladdin Sane, loved the songs, especially The Prettiest Star. That was the most personal. He wrote it for me.

bowie outfits

But as David became more successful, it also became hard to feel that I was in a relationship with him. He found it difficult to express his feelings. He began behaving increasingly badly and that’s when I began to plot my escape. In the years that followed, David seemed to deny I had any part in his success.

Despite my misgivings about his single, I’m delighted about the Bowie exhibition. The V&A show is an extraordinary collection of more than 300 artifacts – his flamboyant costumes, handwritten lyrics, stage sets and more – and will confirm David’s towering influence over British fashion, art and music during the last four decades.

For six or seven years, we were in it together. It was a quite extraordinary time and such good fun. I’m still very proud to have been involved. I’d never take any credit for David’s music – that’s all his. But the exhibition shows how I helped him deliver his dream.

David Bowie no permite a Morrissey usar la foto de él en su nuevo disco, Jajaja

David Bowie blocks Morrissey from using photograph on record sleeve

David Bowie has reportedly ordered EMI not to feature snap of himself and Morrissey on cover of 8 April reissue of The Last of the Famous International Playboys

  • Morrissey and David Bowie
Schism … it’s not clear why David Bowie is against Morrissey’s use of the picture. Photograph: Rex Features

Morrissey has been forced to change the cover of a forthcoming single after David Bowie reportedly blocked the use of a photo featuring both men.

This isn’t a new record: on 8 April, Morrissey is reissuing his 1989 singleThe Last of the Famous International Playboys. And this isn’t a new photograph: in 1992, Linder Sterling snapped the unseen shot of Bowie and the Smiths’ former singer in New York. But it would constitute a new use of Sterling’s photo: Morrissey planned to swap out the single’s original artwork, an image of seven-year-old Moz climbing a tree.

“Bowie refusal,” runs the headline for the following post on True to You, a fansite Morrissey uses as a mouthpiece: “David Bowie has ordered EMIUK not to run the proposed artwork for … The Last of the Famous International Playboys single and CD … Although Bowie has no legal rights to the photograph, most of his back catalogue is presently licensed to EMI.”

It is not certain why Bowie may have leaned on EMI to block the photo’s publication. The two men were friendly at the time the photo was taken, uniting on stage for a performance of Cosmic Dancer. But the intervening years have clearly brought a schism. “[Bowie’s] a business, you know. He’s not really a person,” Morrissey told Jonathon Ross in 2004. “I could tell you stories … and you’d never listen to Let’s Dance again.”

Morrissey was even more cutting in a 2004 interview with GQ. “Bowie is not the person he was,” he said. “Now he gives people what he thinks will make them happy and they’re yawning their heads off. And by doing that, he is not relevant. He was only relevant by accident.”

With or without Bowie’s face, Morrissey will still reissue his 24-year-old single. He is also reissuing his second solo album, Kill Uncle, with bonus songs and a reordered tracklist. The 53-year-old is currently recovering from a bleeding ulcer and hopes to resume a US tour tomorrow night. “The reports of my death have been greatly understated,” Morrissey quipped last week.

Bowie’s first album in 10 years, The Next Day, is released on 11 March. and will be a BLAST !

David Bowie ‘Likes the Struggle’ of Winning Fans, Says Drummer Zack Alford

Onetime Springsteen sideman reveals more about secret ‘The Next Day’ sessions

Zachary Alford, David Bowie
Zachary Alford and David Bowie

For the past year and a half drummer Zachary Alford has been forced to walk around with the secret that he plays on David Bowie‘s new album. “It’s been torture,” he says. “Everyone always says to me, ‘So, what’s David up to?’ I just had to shrug my shoulders and say, ‘I wish I knew.'”

Now that the secret is out, Zachary is finally able to talk to us about the secretive recording sessions for The Next Day. We also spoke with him about his tenure in Bruce Springsteen‘s “Other Band” in 1992-’93.

Let’s start at the very beginning. Tell me how you first heard about this new Bowie album?
David sent me an email asking if I was available in the first two weeks of May of 2011. It was out of the blue. I mean, we’d been in email contact, but there was never any talk about work.

What was your first reaction?
I said yes. [Laughs] Luckily I was available, so I was just really happy about that. But I didn’t know what it was. But whatever it was, I’m available. [Laughs]


He asked if you were available, but he didn’t tell you it was for a new album?
There was a time where I didn’t know what it was. He wouldn’t even say where it was or what it was. I remember [bassist] Gail [Ann Dorsey] and I talking about it, like, “Oh, did he contact you too?” “Yeah, he contacted me.” “What’s it for?” “I don’t know.”

We didn’t know if it was a performance or a recording or anything. It wasn’t until maybe a week before that he said, “Yes, be here at this studio on this day.” Then somehow it leaked out.

What do you mean?
Well, I got an email from David saying, “Do you know a photographer named so and so?” I could find the name, but I don’t remember offhand. I said, “No.” It’s a good thing I didn’t know him. [Laughs] Apparently this photographer had called someone from David’s office and asked if it was OK for him to take pictures of David at the studio. They were like, “What? Who told you there was even a session?” Obviously, someone from the studio leaked it out. We got an email after that saying, “OK, change of plan. We’re doing it at Magic Shop.”

By this point, are you shocked to learn that he’s making a new album?
Um . . . I’d say I was relieved that he’s finally back in the saddle, and I was relieved that I got the call.

Tell me about the first day of recording. Did he lay out his vision for the album, or did you just start cutting tracks?
It was all very matter-of-fact. We weren’t allowed to hear any of the songs before that, because he didn’t want anything out there circulating. So we basically walked in, and there wasn’t much discussion. It’s like, “Here’s the first tune.” Usually he’d play us a demo. It would be a home demo with a drum machine and a synth. Then he’d play a rehearsal demo, because they had actually rehearsed some of the material up from the initial demo stage in November. I guess that was in 2010. And so we listened to both, and then we’d go in the room and start playing it.

Is this you, Gail, Gerry Leonard and David?
Yes, and David Torn. The first week in May we actually had both guitar players, David Torn and Gerry Leonard. Gail was on bass and David was on either synths or he’d play acoustic guitar or piano, depending on the song.

Gerry would hand out charts while we listened to the song so we’d have something to follow, and we could make any notes we needed. We listened to the songs about two or three times, and then it was time to go play it. That was the drill.

I assume David told you that you couldn’t tell a soul about the sessions.
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. He handed out nondisclosure forms for everyone to sign.

Did you even tell your family?
Yes. I told my wife and my kids. But we home-school, so I didn’t have to worry about them blabbing it all over school.

It’s pretty amazing in this day and age that it didn’t get out there.
Yeah. I think it’s a real testament to the value of privacy. This is zero promotion. Basically, him saying nothing is almost promoting the record itself.

Being quiet a whole decade and doing no interviews makes him this real mysterious character. It’s almost like he’s this ghost, and I can understand why he’s reluctant to give that up.
In this day and age, people are so distracted that it’s hard to show them anything they’ll pay attention to. By actually giving them nothing, they want to know more.

I’ve only heard the single, but everyone keeps telling me the rest of the album sounds much different than that song.
Oh yeah. There’s definitely a lot of up-tempo material. That’s some kind of Sixties doo-wop-ish material. Although I don’t remember a lot of the songs. I mean, it’ll be two years in May since we did it. I haven’t heard any of it since. I hope to have the chance to hear it soon myself.

bowie 2013 cucho peñaloza

So you basically only spent three total weeks working on the album?

Can you walk me through your average day of recording? What was the routine?
Well, the routine was very much like going to work. It was a lot of fun for me, because I don’t live in the city anymore, but I grew up there. This was a nice way to come back. Every morning I’d stroll through Soho to go to the Magic Shop. I’d show up around 10:30 a.m. David was almost always already there. He’d be in the control room strumming away on something. Then he’d come back when we were all gathered and drinking our coffees. He’d then throw on a demo. Gerry would hand out charts, we’d take notes, and after hearing it two or three times he’d say, “Everybody ready?” We’d say “Yeah,” and we’d go in and play it through. We’d only do two or three takes and he’d say, “Either we’ve got it or we don’t.”

On one occasion I recall we came back in and he still wasn’t happy, so he wanted us to move on. He’d rather keep the momentum going and keep the juices flowing than sit there and hammer out a tune until it’s perfect.

So we’d do the first one, then we would break for lunch. Then the same drill. We’d listen to another one, takes notes, go in . . . Usually we’d finish by five or six.

Roughly how many takes do you think you did of most of the songs?
I would say between two and five takes for all the songs.

Is that sort of low in your experience?
That is low, actually. It may not sound like it, but you can do a lot of takes in no time. Because they’re all rehearsals. I can’t tell you how many sessions I go to and I say, “Oh, wow, let’s listen to the third take. That was the best one.” And someone will say, “That was actually the sixth take.” You forget how many times you’ve done something. So this was pretty low. On a couple of occasions it was only one take.

You said some of the songs were sort of doo-wop. Earl Slick told me some were Rolling Stones-esque. Can you describe the sound of the songs a little more?
There are a couple that remind me of the Scary Monsters period, because they’re a bit more angular and aggressive-sounding, so I would approach them that way, because naturally I’m trying to tie the material into my association of what Bowie music sounds like.

There’s another number that’s a straight-up country song. There was another one that was based on a blues riff, but we had specific instructions to not make it sound like the blues. There were two songs that sort of had a Bo Diddley feel. I remember specifically shying away from that because I didn’t want it to sound like “Panic in Detroit.”

Do you know any of the songs titles?
They’ve changed. The only ones that have remained from my initial days are “The Stars (Are Out Tonight) and . . . is there one called “Ya Ya?”

I don’t think so.
I remember “Boss of Me.” We cut that with Tony Levin on bass. I remember specifically thinking, “Oh, this one sounds kind of funky. Wouldn’t it be great if he played the [Chapman] Stick?” I suggested that, and Tony wasn’t thrilled with that, because there were a lot of chord changes. He doesn’t like to do songs with chord changes on the Stick, but everybody thought it sounded great. That sounded almost Peter Gabriel-like, like something from the “Big Time” era.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/david-bowie-likes-the-struggle-of-winning-fans-says-drummer-zack-alford-20130201#ixzz2JerTKKli

David Bowie : Está sería la carátula de The Next Day

bowie 2013 cucho peñaloza

Why David Bowie’s new album cover is a masterstroke

So it’s just a white square with text over an old image, is it? Think again – The Next Day’s cover makes you use your mind

Cover story … David Bowie’s The Next Day

This is a RECORD COVER. This writing is the DESIGN upon the record cover. The DESIGN is to help SELL the record. We hope to draw your attention to it and encourage you to pick it up. When you have done that maybe you’ll be persuaded to listen to the music – in this case XTC’s Go 2 album.

The Hipgnosis-designed sleeve for XTC’s Go 2 album is, famously, an essay about the design of the cover itself, and how it is intended as a marketing trick. As the music industry has shifted from analogue to digital, the words have subtly shifted. “This is a CASSETTE COVER” was joined by “This is a COMPACT DISC COVER”.

The digital edition in iTunes? It says “This is a RECORD COVER”. It ought to have said something like: “This is an IMAGE EMBEDDED WITHIN AN BINARY AUDIO FILE.”

I mention it because I think it is one of the titles that illustrates how weirdly our analogue industries represent their products within a digital world. I’ve always said I’ll know that ebooks have come of age when the images on your computer or device to represent them aren’t artificially constrained by the shape that printed books are. There is no need for ebook covers to be tall and thin and hard to fit text on.

The album sleeve that has prompted me to write about this, of course, isDavid Bowie‘s The Next Day. Jonathan Barnbrook has written about his design, and it contains what I think is a beautiful sentence:

“We know it is only an album cover with a white square on it but often in design it can be a long journey to get at something quite simple which works and that simplicity can work on many levels – often the most simple ideas can be the most radical.”

I’ve seen criticism, of course, that you could knock up the final design in five minutes, but the process of getting there is intriguing to me. I can’t think of another artist who has taken one of their own iconic album artworks, and subverted it in this way. It is more usual to recreate the image, as the Beatles did with the 1969 photographs in Manchester Square, which echoed the cover of Please Please Me and which were used for the Red and Blue albums, or as Sir Peter Blake did with a 2010 version of Sgt Pepper.

Another criticism I’ve seen is the harsh contrast between “the fine-grain mono background and harsh ‘paint’ foreground”. Again I think this is an interesting mix of the analogue and digital. Let us not forget that Bowie’s 70s artwork wasn’t perfect in itself. The original UK vinyl issue of Ziggy Stardust featured a horribly obvious ugly cut-and-paste to change the catalogue number from the US edition – the production method encroaching upon design.

Whether this design thinking translates to mass appeal is another matter. Barnbrook says “we worked on hundreds of designs using the concept of obscuring this cover” but admits that “we understand that many would have preferred a nice new picture of Bowie”. The risk for older artists is that new material can never recapture their glory years – and choosing such an odd and aesthetically unappealing final image for The Next Day’s sleeve risks the accusation that the sleeve is as bland as the new material might be.

The fact that I still keep referring to it as a “sleeve” is telling. While there may still be a physical release of the album, many people will this week be listening to lead single Where Are We Now? on devices that represent the “sleeve” as a static image behind glass. There has been precious little innovation in the way that artwork is presented alongside digital records or books. Hack the Cover by Craig Mod was a fascinating essay looking at how to subvert the traditional expectations of the ebook cover, but few artists seem to be exploring similar possibilities with digital music files. Even the fact that most albums feature exactly the same artwork for every track seems a wasted opportunity.

Only time will tell how well the design and the album itself stand up against the rest of Bowie’s impressive catalogue. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if an artist who had spent so many years reinventing his image, helped us to reinvent our expectations of what album covers could be in a digital era?