#2 in a series....Bowie and I

I was a musical kid of the late 60's and early 70's. It's hard to describe how much impact music has had on my life. When I was 10 I joined the David Cassidy Fan Club. Yes, sadly you read that correctly. More on that a bit further down. 

I can still  remember the news on the black and white tv showing The Beatles playing on the roof of Abby Rd. I was 5 or 6 years old at the time. When I was 9- 10 myself and a couple of my friends used to hold "concerts" for the local kids where we'd mime to the records of the day. We'd even go as far as putting on motorcycle helmets to mime along with Gary Glitters "I'm The Leader Of The Gang". Our "guitars" were tennis rackets, buckets for drums etc. It cost a sixpence to join our audience and watch our, probably horrific/hysterically embarrassing performance.

The other lads were older than I was by a couple of years each. I was looking to spend my split of the money on either a new 45rpm vynl single or sweets but I think the band broke up over the assignation of our earnings being spent on fireworks which they bought for themselves and I wasn't old enough for.

One of these older lads had a copy of Ziggy Stardust. He also had "Starman" on single with a version of Chuck Berry's "Round And Round" on the B-Side. I was semi hooked at this amazing rock and roll tune and Bowie entered my radar big time.

Around that time there was ad advert for a weekly magazine called I think the History Of Rock. They had a very brief shot of Bowie singing something that really grooved which I thought, incorrectly, was the song "Changes" (but turns out to have been a clip of Bowie doing Lou Reeds "White Light White Heat". Hooked a little bit more now. With my confirmation money I went out and bought "Hunky Dory" because, duh me, I thought the song "Changes" was the track I was trying to get from the advert!

Given my age I was very interested in the bubble gum pop of the day (Glitter, Suzi Quatro, 10cc, T.Rex etc). But having said that my ear was always drawn to the more arty stuff. My first single was Roxy Music's "Streetlife", still a huge favourite to this day. 

Of course the impact "Top Of The Pops" had on anyone who ever either picked up a hairbrush microphone or air guitar is beyond measurement. It was the holy grail of tv viewing. The great the good and the often  bad every week. That and the announcement of the new record single charts at Tuesday lunchtime was the other unmissable event. Technology had progressed during a short few years and most of us pre teens had access to someone who had a small transistor radio. We'd all be crowded around the chart announcements hearing where our favourite songs had placed that week and hearing what was new. Although looking back a lot of the sexual politics of the day went way over our heads. Bowie's ambiguous androgyny, men wearing pastel satin, mascara, feather boa's etc meant nothing to us. The furthest it went was trying to figure out if the bass player in Mud was a girl (he wasn't) and was the lead vocal on "Donna" by 10cc sung  by another girl? It wasn't either (that was Lol Cremes brilliant falsetto). It was an innocent time in so many ways. 

So. David Cassidy. He was a less feminine pin up compared to the girls other favourite, Donny Osmond, and star of tv's The Partridge Family. So, how come David Cassidy? One afternoon my sister Angela announced SHE was joining the Bowie fan club. You sent off 0.35p postal order and received a type written bio of DB, a typed welcome letter, a lyric sheet and a badge. In a fit of pique that she had joined MY stars fan club, I decided to immediately turn the tables so I joined HER favourite star's fan club. Oh. Yeah. Didn't think that through did I :)

After realising the error of my ways when I received a "personalised" letter from young Mr Cassidy, I took evasive action, and immediately went out and joined the "Geordie" fan club (a north eastern rock n roll group led by the eventual AC DC front man Brian Johnson). They had a great stompy single called "All Because Of You". That love affair didn't last long. Still listen to that song though, it's on my iPod.

But my love affair with Bowie endured. It went a lot deeper than the image etc I, like a lot of people, kept hearing new sounds, new styles, new links to different music and art through Bowie - Lou Reed and the Velvets, Iggy Pop, Kraftwerk, Dylan, Kubrick, Warhol, Oshima, Roeg  etc. When we're about 15 or 16 our teenage impulses tend to over amplify certain things around us and for me I took solace from teenage angst in music. I became a sponge and a lot of that focus was given to all things Bowie. I still have my Bowie scrapbooks with articles from magazines as varied as The Radio Times, Smash Hits (before it stank!) the NME, Record Mirror etc. 

My favourite Bowie records are the ones that stood out from everything else at that time - Low, Hunky Dory, Stationtostation, Heroes, Diamond Dogs etc. I've continued to be a huge fan. I've seen him live 9 times and that includes the Olympia Theatre in Dublin which remains one of my best memories ever given the intimate nature of that venue. I have his autograph, one on the cover of the "Santa Monica 72" live album which I won on the Bowie fan web site and one on a piece of poster art I bought - a limited edition of Ziggy 2000 signed by DB. 

So. January 8th 2013 and the announcement of a new Bowie single and pending album due in March. Given the amount of years away in seclusion (and I think spending time with his per teen daughter Alexandra was a prime driver in this withdrawal from the public view) this news and re-emergence was such a lift and welcome bit of news to me. It made me feel...happy. 

I stood beside his son Duncan in a Munich department store a few years ago ( his film "Moon" was showing at the Munich film festival). I deliberated about asking him how his Dad was. But, decided against it. I figured it'd be a bit too rude to be asking about his auld fella, and that he must have been fed up of that question, given he was finding his own way in the world. It was nice to see him though and looking so well and a normal sort of bloke, given he'd once been Zowie Bowie a little angelic blonde kid in my scrapbook. 

Bowie will be recognised as one of histories great artists and an influence on so many people. It's been a marvellous journey. The only points of reference in my life that have lasted over 40 years are Bowie and Everton. It's that ingrained. 

Thanks DB