David Bowie










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L I F E


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'We should all be a bit more Bowie' - Unknown.

david bowie nothing has changed

david bowie black star cd


February 2016 -Baal Petition

I read recently that the BBC no longer have a copy of Baal (1982) and, as such, no visual evidence exists of this, one of Bowie's finest performances on TV or Film...More on The Baal Petition to the BBC

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18th January 2016 -The Overload

Well it's a week since the news of his passing broke and the written media have been all over it (a flavour of the newspaper coverage can be found here). Perfect understandable and yet, and yet, there is nothing that leads us any nearer to understanding the phenomenon that was Bowie. Maybe it's just me, maybe it's because there is so little info. coming out from his camp about the events leading up to his death and the papers, subsequently, have to fill the void with speculation to satisfy their readers. Whatever the reason after a while there is only so much of the tribute pages you can take in. There's alot on the albums he released but even the casual fan would already know that Ziggy Stardust was iconic, Let's Dance was commercial, and Tin Machine was, well, Tin Machine. Black Star was the one album that didn't feature his face - I must confess that was something I hadn't realised until I read it.

There has been plenty of tributes from celebrities but they tell me more about the individual rather than Bowie. But, and again it could be just me, the more I read the further away David Bowie and David Jones are to me.

I guess I'll never understand who he was. But Heroes remains Heroes.

Perhaps that is all there can be; perhaps we have a right to no more.

"With John Lennon it was more the influence of having him in the studio that helped. There's always a lot of adrenalin flowing when John is around, but his chief addition to it was the high pitched singing of 'Fame'. The riff came from Carlos, and the melody and most of the lyrics came from me, but it wouldn't have happened if John hadn't been there. He was the energy, and that's why he's got a cresit for writing it; he was the inspiration." - David Bowie, November 1977, from Bowie in His Own Words Book.

Random Bowie Fact: In 1958 he performed his first live show with schoolfriend George Underwood at a cub scout summer camp on the Isle of Wight. Bowie plays ukulele.

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11th January, 2016: Two days after the release of his latest album, it's been announced Bowie has died after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. No-one outside the inner circle knew about it which makes the shock for all us all the more acute. Words, or my words, can't possibly convey what it means to so many of us who never met the man but whom meant so much to us. I just cannot fathom a world without Bowie in it.

14th January 2016: it's been heavily repoted that Bowie has been cremated in New York without family and friends present at his own request. Black star. Lone star, travelling between this world and the next.

I've never known any star who managed to have so much control right up to the end (or the beginning depending on your viewpoint). Everything, and I mean everything, done with class and privacy right up to his last moments on this mortal coil. It's astonishing, and Black Star, his last album, was what he gave us, the fans, to remember him by. That and his body of work, is ours and is what he bequeathed to us. Nothing more, nothing less.

Still, the shock of how events unfolded is unabated. Those hours between the release of Black Star and his death. That and that video and the lack of info. from anyone close to him as they remained loyal to him right up to the last moment and beyond. It was an extraordinary time. A cold time, a numb time for those looking upon events from the outside just had that shock announcement. Without warning, without even a whisper.

Here one moment and then gone the next. I say 'here' when I should really say 'there' as he was somewhere to most os us though we didn't know him. Just the work. But that was more than enough. Black Star has so much in it to last a lifetime. Sublimal messages from inside and out. Words and pictures of what was to come, has come and will come to us all one day.

'Closing time comes soon enough', Leonard Cohen once said. 69 is no age to join the stars.

Prepations for the journey.

Home.

With the lack of any concrete news of his last few months, I wonder about the reported last visit by Bowie with his daughter to the haunts of his times in South London. I would love to know from a local perspective all the places he went to but know I have no right to know. Doesn't stop me wondering though. Where did he visit in Beckenham? Wonder if he visited Kelsey Park. Did anyone recognise him?

A friend was telling me that when he played the Isle of Wight Festival over a decade ago now, he crossed on a Wightlink ferry. Can you imagine seeing Bowie on the ferry?? No flying in by helicopter or, as some of us believe with Bowie, walking across the water.

He was one of us at the end of the day. But, of course, he wasn't.

"'Low' is my reaction to certain places ... 'Art Decade' is West Berlin - a city cut off from the world, art and culture, dying with no hope of retribution. 'Weeping Wall' is about the Berlin Wall - the misery of it. And 'Subterraneans' is about the people that got caught in East Berlin after the separation - hence the faint jazz saxophones representing the memory of what it was." - David Bowie, September 1977, from Bowie in His Own Words Book.

Albums You Must Listen to Before You Die: Low CD @ amazon.co.uk (direct link to CD)

Lists: Bowie World Tour Lists

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For me, David Bowie is of equal importance as the Fab Four. After all, is he not the Elvis of his generation? By that I mean for those growing up in the 70s & 80s, Bowie spoke to us and touched us in a more profound way than the icons that came before. Especially for any of us growing up in the backwaters of South London where the great man grew up. It was hard to believe that such an icon grew up on those same drab streets. Bowie had been here! Can you believe that? Beckenham, Bromley, Brixton - it was all Bowieland. The genius who reinvented himself in the faraway metropolis of Berlin knew that Beckenham High Street existed! Remarkable when you think about it. You can walk down that High Street and look at all the things that Bowie had done.

Bowie, Beckenham, Bromley, Brixton, Berlin - it's all in the Bs...

To share the same postcode as him is reward enough!


South East London Years ~ Innit

I'm not sure you can say Bowie belonged anywhere in the same way as you could say the Beatles belonged to Liverpool, but if there is such a place it is South East London or Sarf London as we say in these parts.

Here is a list of the places from the times when The Man Who Fell to Beckenham.

Source: Croydon Guardian, 13th January, 2016. The best source for local news and propery on the market to buy or let.

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BRIXTON

40 Stansfield Road, Brixton - Bowie was born David Jones in January 1947.

Stockwell Infants' School - Started at Stockwell Infants' in 1951.

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BECKENHAM

24 Foxgrove Road, Beckenham - Now known as David Bowie, he moved to Beckenham from Kensington in March 1969, and lodged with Mary Finnigan.

The Three Tuns pub (now Zizzi), Beckenham High Street - Bowie and Finnigan set up a folk club, which later became Beckenham Arts Lab at the Three Tuns in May 1969.

Croydon Road Recreation Ground, Beckenham - Bowie and the Arts Lab hosted the first free festival as a fundraiser at the Croydon Road Recreation Ground on August 16.

Haddon Hall, 42 Southend Road, Beckenham - Bowie lived on the ground floor of the now-demolished building, between October 1969 and May 1972 when he moved to Maida Vale. He painted the ceilings silver. Among the fans who would gather outside Haddon Hall just to catch a glimpse of him was Boy George.

Bromley Registry Office, Beckenham Lane - Bowie married Angie on March 19, 1970. They divorced in 1980.

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GREENWICH

Underhill Studios, Blackheath Hill, Greenwich - Bowie began work on the album that would become The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in 1971 at Underhill Studios, Greenwich, now Gee-Pharm.

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BROMLEY

106 Canon Road, Bromley – Bowie’s family moved to Canon Road in 1953.

Clarence Road, Bromley – In 1954, his family moved to Clarence Road.

Raglan Infants' School, Clarence Road – David studied here from January 1953 until 1955.

4 Plaistow Grove, Bromley – The family moved to Plaistow Grove in June 1955.

Burnt Ash Junior School, Rangefield Road – While at Burnt Ash Junior School from 1955 to 1958, David was in the school choir and played the recorder.

Bromley Technical High School, Oakley Road, Keston - Now known as Ravens Wood School, a young David studied here from 1958 to 1963 and particularly enjoyed art classes (and gained his only O Level in the subject) under teacher Owen Frampton, the father of rock musician Peter Frampton.

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CROYDON

School of Art, Croydon – Bowie briefly studied at School of Art in Croydon (now part of Croydon College) after leaving school.

The Greyhound, Park Lane, Croydon – The Ziggy Stardust tour came to Croydon’s Greyhound on June 25, 1972.

Fairfield Halls, Croydon – After touring in the US and Europe, the Ziggy Stardust tour played two shows at Fairfield Halls on June 24, 1973.

I was just speaking to someone who attended one of the Fairfield Halls' shows. She would have been 16 or 17 at the time and remebers just what a buzz it was. Not just from Bowie being on stage but the energy generated from the audience. It was packed and she remembers so many of the audience had made such an effort with Ziggy make up and clothes. Her and her friend had great seats and it's a concert that remains to her to this day in terms of just being there, witnessing it.

Fairfield Halls still attracts some big stars but not stars like Bowie! Stars who were enormous. But Elton John also played there and the same friend remembers seeing Rod Stewart at The Greyhound.

So Bowie belonged to Croydon for three nights. Other than David Lean being born there and when Croydon Airport was the most important airport in the UK between the wars, has it a greater claim to fame?

"I did a lot of Newley things on the very first album I made 'Love You Till Tuesday'. That's a very strange album." - David Bowie, 1972, from Bowie in His Own Words Book.

Love You Till Tuesday: CD @ amazon.co.uk (direct link to CD)

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The Best Beckenham & Bowie book - The best book, or account of Bowie's Beckenham years is Psychedelic Suburbia: David Bowie and the Beckenham Arts Lab (direct link to book @ amazon.co.uk). It's by Mary Finnigan who was actually there when the events unfolded (she lved and worked on the Beckenham Arts Lab with Bowie) and really is a must read for anyone interested in Bowie and those times. There are also never before published photos of Bowie which are just fascinating to behold.

I for one loved reading about staging the UK’s first Free Festival in Croydon Road Recreation Ground in Beckenham.


Biography

Born David Robert Jones in Brixton, South London on 8 January 1947. At 13 he was playing the saxophone and three years later he was singing and playing with rock bands as well as woring as a commercial artist. I think that background in commercial art is crucial to the enduring legacy of Bowie's work - the iconography of the album covers is so powerful that not only does it reflect the music on the albums but it visualises the music. That is rare.

At 19, he had already recorded singles with three different groups. It was the year he began a solo career. David Bowie was born, a name he chose to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of The Monkees.

It wasn't plain sailing. His first solo album was so unsuccessful he dropped out of the music business, and began to study mime. His own mime troupe, Feathers,was formed in 1969 and he started an experimental art ensemble - neither would prove commercially successful. But in the same year he signed a deal to record another album, and from that was born the top five British hit, Space oddity.

A legend was born.

The album The Man Who Sold the World came in 1970 and in 1972 the breakthrough The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars. Glam rock scene was beginning to peak and on the back of that Ziggy Stardust made Bowie a rock-God not only in England but also in the US. Bowie became the figure for an age - cross-dressing and those different coloured eyes which were the result of a schoolyard fight that left one pupil permanently enlarged - he personified the early to mid-1970s. If you think of those times a picture of Bowie as Ziggy may well settle in your mind's eye.

Bowie became famous for constantly re-inventing himself, I say 're-inventing' but I think it would be more accurate to say his gift has always been to absorb influences and make them his own. Whether that be Kraftwerk, American soul or whatever - when it has been through the Bowie filter it has come out his own, unique to him. No more so than with Brian Eno and the Berlin years. After this came the album which I and many fans consider his most important, Scary Monsters. Out of all those Berlin years came a work which made him the biggest cult in the business.

Meanwhile in 1976, the director Nicolas Roeg cast Bowie in his first leading role, as the alien in The Man Who Fell to Earth. Seemingly, Bowie was reluctant to take on the role and he tells the tale of Roeg waiting for hours in his house for him to return so he could convince him to take the part. Though the film was a modest box-office success it became a cult over the years and the minimalistic requirements for the 'alien' role suited Bowie the actor. That being said, I have to say the film has some of the worst continuity gaffes I have seen since Night of the Demon. There is one shot where the camera is hed-on and Bowie has a centre parting: the very next shot in the same scene Bowie has a side parting! Still, it remains for me Bowie's best piece of work in a movie.

In 1983, Bowie's album Let's Dance brought him the commercial success that put him on a financial par with the likes of Phil Collins & Dire Straits but at what cost artistically? Bowie himself was well aware it had to reach the masses for he was famously on a beach in Australia and 48 hours later was centre stage at a huge press conference in London announcing its arrival. Let's Dance was as accessible as Scary Monsters had been cutting edge - it served as kind of antithesis to all that had gone before. But the public couldn't get enough of it - it sold like there was no tomorrow. Stadium anthems revebrated around the world. Seemingly, to pardon the pun, these were golden years.

So golden in fact that it took him over 10 years with the release of Outside to restore his credibilty. Bowie has since talked about his regret for the kind of work that came after Let's Dance and from the outside it does look as though his muse had temporarily flown. 1987's Never Let Me Down is my least favourite Bowie album.

Interestingly, the 80s saw his roles in film more satisfying than the music. After the glorious debacle that was Just A Gigolo at the tale end of the 70s, he was good in The Hunger (what a cast: Bowie, Deneuve & Sarandon). Nagisa Oshima's Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence and what was a disappointing film, Absolute Beginners but he was even better in the leading role in Labyrinth. There was also Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ. Quite a body of work.

Musically speaking, the 90s saw a return to form culminating in the reunion with Eno on Outside. What an album! It takes you on a journey that at times is just plain disquietening. This is the album that should have followed Scary Monsters. Bowie should have chained Eno to the producing studio throughout his career.

1997, David Bowie saw Bowie pioneering again with the Internet-only release of his single Telling Lies. A world tour followed. He recorded a duet with Brian Molko on the Placebo track Without You I'm Nothing in 1999 before he returned back to the studio to record an album.

On 15 August 2001, Alexandria Zahra Jones was born. She was the first child of Bowie's with his second wife Iman Abdulmajid, who he married in 1992. With his first wife, Angie Bowie he had Duncan Jones, now a famous film director.

2001 also saw him opening the Concert for New York City, held to benefit the victims of the 11 September attacks in the US. The following year saw the album Heathen, then an album and tour called Reality. The following year, whilst he was performing in Oslo a lollipop hit him in the eye and a week later he suffered chest pains, which was later diagnosed as a blocked artery. Bowie had heart surgery and cancelled the last 15 dates of his tour.

Since then his output has understandably slowed down Stage appearances have been few and far between. He did take part in a duet of Changes for the 2004 film Shrek 2. 2005 saw him perform on stage with Arcade Fire and he made a radio commercial with Snoop Dogg the same year.

The accolades which had decorated his work throughout his career culminated with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award on 8 February 2006. On 29 May he made a surprise appearance at David Gilmour's concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

2008 saw him perform on Scarlett Johansson's album of Tom Waits covers called Anywhere I Lay My Head. A double album of performances from Bowie's 2003 tour was released in January 2010.

His Heroes was used heavily at the 2012 London Olympics and the only thing missing from the whole event was an appearance from the great man. In some ways it would havebeen even bigger than McCartney appearing but it was not to be.

2013 saw the V&A exhibition as well as a new album, The Next Day, his 24th studio album. Both were met with acres of press coverage as well as both critical and public acclaim. The Living God had returned from what looked like retirement.


david bowie nothing has changed

david bowie black star cd




David Bowie Cds

David Bowie Dvds @ amazon.com (direct link)

David Bowie Books @ amazon.com (direct link)




David Bowie.

Biography   South East London Years

Psychedelic Suburbia: David Bowie and the Beckenham Arts Lab

Baal Petition

The Bowie Tours    Gallery

Record/CD Price Guide    Bowie Shop

Newspaper, Book & Magazine Covers

Search Site

Blackstar Review

Lazarus Video Review

Blackstar Video Review

Suffragette Poster

Stage Poster

Absolute Beginners Poster

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