In recent month's, Uncut has taken over from Q in the "Music Mag That Most Resembles a Bowie Fanzine" stakes.
PAGE 9: A piece called "Smack My Sketch Up":
"Paintings and sketches by John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Ronnie Wood, David Bowie and Miles Davis went on show last month, at an exhibition entitled Musicians As Artists. Both Lennon's and Wood's work has been seen extensively over the years (John's sketches of himself and Yoko have been on a "world tour" since the late Eighties), but the exhibition, at the Cork Street Gallery in London, is thought to be the biggest ever in the country to feature the work of a group of musicians. Whereas Lennon's offerings are almost all self-portraits, Wood concentrates on painting his musical heroes and chums, and his contribution to the exhibition includes paintings of Mick Jagger, Keith Richard, Eric Clapton and Marvin Gaye. Likewise, Bowie's collection includes two paintings of Iggy Pop."
PAGE 54: An 8 pager on Velvet Goldmine entitled "Scary Monsters Super
Freaks". Bowie extracts:
"Scary Monsters, Super Freaks
Velvet Goldmine, US cult director Todd Haynes' fantastic take on the Seventies Glam era, is set to be one of the most controversial films of the year. In this Uncut special, Stephen Dalton traces its troubled history and we talk to its star, Ewan McGregor, producer Michael Stipe, and Haynes, while Chris Roberts charts the spectacular rise and fall of Glam Rock and its major icons.
But word from the Cannes screenings has been mixed, to say the least. The press conference was full of bafflement and veiled criticism. Some reviewers have already drawn parallels with Absolute Beginners, that nadir of vacuous Eighties style-whore cinema. All the young dudes carry the news, but the news is not always good.
Velvet Goldmine gives a sexy Citizen Kane remix to the early Seventies career of Bowie-esque rocker Brian Slade. In his Glam Rock prime, Bowie was a polysexual peacock and inspiration to suburban escapists everywhere. Shedding identities and shamelessly stealing those of others, Bowie was the most heroically ambitious, subversive, progressive, audaciously intelligent and life-affirmingly ridiculous rock icon ever constructed. He was a penis in furs, and he dared to dream.
Writer/director Haynes weaves a kaleidoscopic fantasia of wiggy starlust from the rich mythology of Glam Rock. David Bowie, Angie Bowie, Iggy Pop, Marc Bolan and Brian Eno are all here, half-concealed behind flimsy disguises. It's the past as fantasy, an ultra-camp alternative history dressed in Biba and photographed by Helmut Newton. A big lie, in other words, but a lie that tells the truth. The very definition of camp. David Bowie acted and sang in Absolute Beginners, of course, but has publicly snubbed Velvet Goldmine. While William Randolph Hearst used his publishing empire to attack Citizen Kane, Bowie simply declined to let his music be used in the movie named after one of his songs and inspired by his life. In Cannes to promote his latest film role alongside Goldie in the gay gangster drama, Everybody Loves Sunshine, Bowie is rumoured to be heading for the party. He never arrives.
Although no stranger to scandal and critical revulsion in the past, Haynes wonders, and not for the first time, whether he might just have bitten off more than he can chew on this occasion.
REWIND THREE YEARS TO MAY, 1995 and Todd Haynes is at an earlier Cannes festival, on this occasion promoting Safe, his eerily open-ended fable about an LA housewife who becomes allergic to modern life. But his mind is already fiercely focused on the Glam Rock project and former college mate, Christine Vachon, for at least five years. One sideways glance at Haynes betrays his current obsession; he sports electric orange Ziggy hair, stack heels and skinny-rib glitter top. Oh, you pretty thing.
Haynes is reading Richard Ellman's stupendous biography of Oscar Wilde, finding parallels with Glam's gleefully artificial world of bisexual dandyism and constructed identities. As with all his projects, he is compiling scrapbooks of reference images which will eventually inform the film's highly stylised look. He is also studying the movies which fuelled his teenage dreams, from Performance to A Clockwork Orange, soaking up their trippy visuals and sinister glamour.
But he is tuned into contemporary pop currents too: 1995 is the high water mark of Britpop, with bands like Suede, Pulp and Blur drawing heavily on the polysexual art-school posturing of early Bowie and Roxy Music. The fop is back in pop, while Bowie and Eno have reunited for the first time in 15 years for their neo-Glam album project, Outside. Meanwhile, an obscure young actor named Ewan McGregor is in the midst of shooting a hugely stylised, low-budget rock'n'roll movie which will blast Britpop fashion back onto the global map. It's called Trainspotting.
Irish unknown Jonathan Rhys Meyers is cast as Brian Slade, the drama's Bowie-esque protagonist, with Ewan McGregor playing his Iggy Pop-derived lover, Curt Wild. In the preface to his Velvet Goldmine screenplay, published this month by Faber, Haynes describes his allegorical affair as "a love story between New York and London, between contrasting traditions in music and style"
WITH FILMING SCHEDULED FOR EARLY 1997, two mighty spanners are tossed into the Velvet Goldmine machinery. David Bowie, whose life and work form the backbone of the movie's plot, refuses permission for six of his songs to be used on the soundtrack after lengthy deliberation. More seriously, the film's main financiers, CiBy 2000 (a French pun on Cecil B DeMille), suddenly fold, forcing Haynes and Vachon to shave at least a million dollars from their budget and several weeks from an already tight shooting schedule. The official line on the Bowie dilemma is that the veteran rocker politely declined to co-operate because he intends to use these songs for his own Ziggy Stardust revival project. Haynes is similarly diplomatic, painting the loss as a healthy creative challenge rather than a crisis. "David has been only professional about the entire thing, and he actually put a great deal of time and thought into his decision not to give us the music" the director reflects. "I was told he read the script three times and saw all my films, and he talked to people about it. He's a smart man. And although at the time, of course, I was really disappointed, I think the film actually benefits from it not being Bowie music. Because if there is ever a chance to read the Brian Slade character a little bit more fluidly, having him sing Bowie songs would have sealed that off completely. In his screenplay preface, Haynes strikes a sadder note over the superstar snub: "I really hope Bowie can see in the film the affection and respect I have for him."
Stipe even relaxes his self-imposed boundaries as executive producer by penning some songs himself, period pastiche collaborations with Grant Lee Buffalo. Not all of this music will make the final score, but at least the Bowie-sized gap has been filled.
After the nine-week Velvet Goldmine shoot wraps, this nebulous distinction becomes the post-production party line. All the film's characters are fictions, we are told, not brazen impersonations of Bowie and Iggy at all. Ooh, no.
The film is not about the real Eighties at all, it's about the future as seen from the Seventies," insists Haynes. "Bowie's Diamond Dogs is about this very Orwellian, conservative and repressive future and that has obvious resonances for what would later occur both in the States and in Britain."
"But even beyond the sexual agenda, what's so brilliant about Glam Rock to me is that it extends to identity itself. The idea of dressing up, putting on a wig and eye shadow - to me, that's what kids experience at that age! That's what their life is! Everyone else is telling them to turn into something stable and consistent and organised, and this Ziggy character tells them completely the opposite! That's a radical opening!"
Did you never feel you were taking too many liberties by mirroring Bowie's life so intimately, fabricating affairs he probably never had?
"Bowie was flirting with the constructed persona of Ziggy Strardust in ways which toppled over into his real life, so I felt what I had as raw material was already fictionalised," argues Haynes. "That was the spirit of it: I was just fictionalising the fictions, taking them further. "My feeling is you never know what anybody does in bed, behind closed doors. You know two people are married, but you don't ever know if they even fuck! You only know the stuff they do publicly. So, if they're choosing to have pictures of Bowie and Lou Reed snogging at parties published and distributed, that's not necessarily true, but it's real. It exists in the imagination of the people who see it."
Isn't it just possible that Bowie refused to allow the use of his music because you paint the Ziggy character as a shallow plagiarist who later turns into a conformist, corporate whore?
"If that's true, he is obviously not reading his own quotes from the time, when he defined himself brilliantly as a human Xerox machine," says Haynes. "All artists draw from the culture around them, he just admitted it in a really brazen way that was brilliant and strong and bold. I think that is genius, not derivative and weak. And also, if Bowie's sensitive about the Eighties scenes, he's also someone who talks disparagingly about his Serious Moonlight phase today. He himself is least interested in his most commercially successful period, so again he beats everybody to his own self-criticism."
Has Iggy Pop responded to the movie?
"He hasn't yet seen it. We contacted each other before, because I wanted him to hear it from me, and I described the character that he inspired to a large degree. He called me up and was just so incredibly cool, he just wanted to give the film his blessing, he didn't want to know anything more about it than what I'd already said. He's amazing, such a sweet-hearted guy. I think he's gonna dig it, actually."
Did you pre-warn him about the implied affair between his character and the Bowie figure?
"Not explicitly, but I said if the wanted to read the script, he could. He's probably heard already, but you know Iggy's famous line about all men being gay? Hahaha! He seems like a pretty secure guy."
All the young pseuds...
Who's really who in Velvet Golmine
David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust phase, a pointedly manufactured bisexual alien rock messiah who stages his own onstage death, just as Bowie "retired" Ziggy at the Hammersmith Odeon on July 3, 1973. Slade's Ziggy-style persona of Maxwell Demon is actually derived from Brian Eno, however. Slade later morphs into a besuited corporate rocker, rather as Bowie did for much of the Eighties.
Nine-tenths Iggy Pop to one-tenth Lou Reed. Wild shares Iggy's Michigan trailer-park upbringing, sexually charged performance style and fondness for full-frontal nudity. Like both Iggy and Lou, his career is salvaged from drugs and self-abuse by the Bowie character. He mirrors Iggy's move to Berlin in the post-Glam mid-Seventies, but he also restages an infamous public kiss between Reed and Bowie.
Slade's bisexual American spouse and soul mate is closely modelled on Bowie's first wife, Angie. Slowly frozen out by her husband's outlandish affairs and spiralling stardom, just like Angie, she ends up as an embittered novelty act on the cabaret circuit.
Bowie's manager for the first half of the Seventies was dapper former litigation clerk Tony DeFries. He promised to make Bowie a superstar though his MainMan management company, and duly did so. But after finding himself almost broke in January, 1975, Bowie severed all ties with DeFries and referred thereafter to him as "DeFreak".
Playing a John The Baptist role to Slade's leper messiah of Glam, Fairy is a hybrid of pioneering Roxy Music founders Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno, both of whom have songs covered on the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack. In the movie, Fairy leaves Glam with Iggy/Wild. In reality, Eno collaborated there with Bowie.
Modelled on Kenneth Pitt, an old--school showbiz dandy and Bowie's manager for most of the late Sixties. Bowie shared Pitt's flat and, according to some biographers, his bed, too, before the star signed with Tony DeFries in 1970. Another former mentor and alleged lover of Bowie's, Lindsay Kemp, also has a cameo role in Velvet Goldmine."
PAGE 62: A 10 pager by Chris Roberts entitled "Stardust Memories - The rise and fall of Glam". The first twp pages are a close-up of Ziggy fellating Ronson's guitar (caption: "Bowie and Ronson: moving like tigers on Vaseline".) Other photos include a half pager of "Glam's Big Three: Bowie, Iggy and Lou". Bowie extracts:
Hang On To Yourself
...Todd Haynes' magical Velvet Goldmine, a Nic Roeg/Ken Russell fantasy, is blatantly based on Ziggy and Iggy and Showy Bowie and Loopy Lou, whatever the director's opt-out disclaimers. By accident or design (I only suspect the former because his previous, critically-acclaimed films, such as Safe and Poison, have been so unutterably atrocious), and greatly assisted by the flawlessly contrived music (Shudder To Think, sodden with the spirit, sing of "starships over Venus"), Haynes catches the trippy, tricksy essence of Glam: the often ham-fished flirting with issues of identity and gender, the hatred of all things worthy-but-dull, the denial of any social, economic or theological cause but self-promotion and astral ego-protection, the greedy needy lust for fame.
It may have been punk that said never trust a hippie, but it was Glam that said never even be seen in the same building as one, it's bad for your image.
It's a shame that Haynes overindulges his own sexual preferences in the
film, with all the main characters unequivocally gay or bisexual (as far as
you can be unequivocally bisexual). The funniest and perhaps most radical
thing about the Glam Rock era, which, coming several years before the mass
advent of video, made Top Of The Pops an indecently powerful parochial
semiotic, was the way in which it influenced a generation of heterosexual
boys and men to dress up like moist and fragrant gardenias.
Ridicule, as Adam Ant later whooped, was nothing to be scared of.
It's difficult now to gauge how sensational David Bowie's declaration of bisexuality to Melody Maker ("Hi I'm Bi!") seemed at the time, with subsequent generations of stars adopting the ploy as an industry standard. Madonna has claimed to possess the soul of a gay man inside a woman's body; Suede's Brett Anderson equally hilariously touted himself as "a bisexual who's never had an homosexual experience". The gay male is a common enough cuddly uncle/flatmate figure in mainstream movies and sit-coms; the gay female, even if she has to go through Ellen high water, will catch up. But back then, Bowie's arch scam (for scam if chiefly was) probed under rocks, tapped into international fears, taboos and sinister psychological hang-ups. For most impressionable fans and camp (sorry) followers, it was an insincere handle, a 'mere' style statement on which to hang the fun-fuelled desire to dress up like a peacock on LSD.
Lou Reed, who with The Velvet Underground had always worn black so that films could be projected onto him, was urged by Bowie's wife Angie to dress more adventurously to promote the aptly-named album, Transformer. He threw himself into the challenge, adopting an alabaster-faced, black-eyelinered "phantom of rock" persona.
At the tail end of '71, T-Rex's Electric Warrior went to Number One. Although it was replaced after six weeks by Concert For Bangladesh, the hippies' death throe, it regained pole position, and in '72 T-Rex became the first band since the Beatles to achieve three Number One albums in the same year. The next 18 months saw these charts dominated by Bolan, David Bowie, Roxy Music, Slade, Rod Stewart, Elton John and Alice Cooper, all of whom were either kooky-monsters of Glam Rock or shrewd enough to cruise in its slipstream.
The triumvirate, though, was Bowie, Bolan and Ferry. There'll always be some debate over which of prettiest stars Bolan and Bowie was the father of Glam, which the son, but Ferry was definitely the holy ghost. Academics will continue to overstate the significance of Brian Eno's contribution to Roxy Music. I can assure you that the average sparkle-magnetised youth at the time of their '72 debut album was no more fascinated by the fringe keyboard player's twiddling of knobs than by Andy Mackay's innovative use of saxophone reeds. Eno dressed the part, but so did Manzanera and the rest. Ferry, however, sang of the future and the past, of sci-fi and romance, of something wished-for and something lost, in the voice of F Scott Fitzgerald starring in Casablanca.
You have to remember the teenage fan leaps insatiably on illusion and fantasy - especially when it mythologises love and sex - like a starving piranha with seven thousand deadly fangs. We wanted swooning, not science. Experimental synthesiser sound? Maybe we'd get into them when we were all growed up.
As these artists were deconstructing the stage act and rehabilitating the
album - Bowie realigning the relationship between Star (exhibitionist/actor)
and Fan (voyeur/inventor) - the 45rpm pop single became a vessel of buzzy
adrenaline and swagger not glimpsed for years. Serious rock giants like Led
Zeppelin had decreed that the mere single was for pop tarts. A new breed
agreed heartily, thanked them for their diagnosis, and proceeded to shake
their tinselled tushes to three glorious minutes of crass, flashy sass.
The Sweet brought some high comedy to Glam's history by not only plagiariing the same Yardbirds riff for "Blockbuster" as Bowie did for "Jean Genie", but also keeping the hipper record from the Number One spot in January '73.
By the time the Chinnichap combos were burning out (reduced to heavy metal pastiches or scampi-in-a-basket cabaret), Bowie and Roxy had moved on to other, resiliently ambitious, modes of expression. Mixed-ability cash-in movies such as Born To Boogie (Bolan), Slade In Flame, That'll Be The Day and Stardust (Essex), Remember Me This Way (Glitter), Never Too Young To Rock (Mud, Hello, Rubettes, Glitter Band) and DA Pennebaker's Ziggy Stardust concert film had sped up the process. Glam, nothing if not voracious, was devouring itself. Even Bolan, in late '73, was declaring "Glam Rock is dead. It was a great thing, but now you have your Sweet, your Chicory Tip, your Gary Glitter. What they're doing is circus and comedy."
The Bogus Man
In Velvet Goldmine, Christian Bale gamely plays Arthur Stuart, an ex-pat reporter who's researching an anniversary article on the faked assassination of rock star Brian Slade's alter ego, Maxwell Demon. While Haynes says this isn't "necessarily" based on Bowie's killing-off Ziggy Stardust: hey, let's get real. Just this once. Arthur is compelled to excavate a past he's left behind.
Still, the experience of meeting and interviewing David Bowie in LA gave me rare case of pre-match nerves. Both times. He was in the event(s) charming and unaffected (unless he affects unaffectedness, which is, of course, very likely), and a little verbose, which is fine by any interviewer. Naturally, I interrupted him long enough to press a copy of my own recently-recorded album into his palm.
Iggy Pop is an absolute diamond, who stunned me with his intellect, then turned up at my birthday party within seconds was chatting up girls with the killer line, "Hi, I'm James".
There's a blind-spot part of everybody, however sentient, however cynical, which thinks they could make it all worthwhile, could play the wild mutation, could fall asleep at night, as a rock'n'roll star. To a certain generation this is because Ziggy Stardust told us it was so.
The King Of The Mountain Cometh
Head of Creation, Alan McGee, says that "the reason I got into rock'n'roll is because I saw David Bowie on Top Of The Pops with a bright blue acoustic guitar playing "Starman" in July 1972, and Mick Ronson on 10-inch platforms, bending over, giving the guitar fellatio. I was gobsmacked. My reaction was part wanting to be David Bowie and part sexual arousal, I have since discovered my sexuality, and bizarrely it's not towards men. I can honestly say the first person who turned me on was David Bowie. Respect to Ziggy Stardust."
On June 6, 1972, curiously enough my 12th birthday, David Bowie released The Rise And The Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars. It go to Number Five. It was the first record I ever bought. My dad embarrassed me by coming with me to the shop. With hindsight, he may have been concerned. Imagine: your boy suddenly becomes obsessed with a gay Martian in a green jump-suit who hangs out in phone boxes - like, what's that about? Certainly, he seemed relieved when pictures of Suzi Quatro and Liverpool FC joined those of Bowie, Bolan, Ferry and Co on my bedroom wall. Next, I bought scratchy second-hand copies of Bolan Boogie and Electric Warrior, the two albums which confirmed T-Rex as a crackling, ecstatic pop entity, no longer hippie warblers. T-Rex sold 16 million records in their first 14 months (The Beatles, in the equivalent period at the beginning of their success, sold five million). At one stage, four in every hundred singles sold in Britain were by T-Rex. They had wonderful blue labels with a picture of Marc and the T-Rex logo in red. My friends and I would believe that in buying them, we were helping Marc get to Number One. We didn't then know that the records that sell the most are the ones which the record companies have decided will sell the most. This was something we wanted, something we cared about. For one thing, if he was number one, he had to be on Top Of The Pops.
Bolan and Ziggy killed the Sixties for us. They killed them good'n'dead until the majors' business acumen brought them back. They charted a map of style and technique for white rock bands that was still being consulted, with equal degrees of reverence and shock, in the early Nineties. The Sixties meant nothing to us. We didn't remember them and we weren't there. I have never fully got over this prejudice. Dylan, "the artist of the century, our Keats", looked and sounded like exactly what Glam Rock, with its breaths of fresh hair, had come to blow away.
Ziggy Stardust was, according to Cashbox magazine, "an electric age nightmare, a cold hard beauty. An album to take with you into the 1980's." Charles Shaar Murray wrote that, "as an object lesson in media manipulation it eerily presaged Malcom McLaren's Sex Pistols adventure, and as a blueprint for a generation's capacity for self-reinvention, it marked the turning point between the worlds of hippie and punk". For David Frickie it was "a marvel of genetic pop engineering, a brilliant and authentic collision of classic rock'n'roll extremes - erotic frenzy, gender confusion, celebrity arrogance, private dread, apocalyptic fear", and featured "Bowie's star-crossed glam-Christ". The NME reckoned: "Bowie is our most futuristic songwriter, and sometimes what he sees is just a little scary." Bowie himself later said, "I wasn't at all surprised that Ziggy Stardust made my career. I packaged a totally credible plastic rock star - much better than any sort of Monkees fabrication. My plastic rocker was much more plastic than anybody's."
It was what ironic icon Ziggy suggested that rocked our world. That first song, "Five Years", where the news had just come over that earth was really dying... what a way to start! The beginning of your love affair with music is the end of the world. Now that's guaranteed to give the listener a grandiose sense of self-importance. This melodrama carried through, past the queer throwing up (my, how we analysed that), to the line that coloured your solitude for the rest of your life: "And it was cold and it rained, so I felt like an actor..."
Over ascending chords, this had such an overwhelming effect on my peer group that we were all instantly the stars of the movies in our heads and frankly, Yes, Genesis, ELP, Pink Floyd and all Americans never stood a chance. Sure, if you liked them, you didn't get called a poof. They were "proper" musicians. But who could like them? We were too busy making love with our embryonic egos, or buying 20 Embassy between four of us so that time could take a cigarette and put it in our mouths. And when your head got "all tangled up", as it does at that (and, let's face it, any) age you were "not alone", because Ziggy said so. Which pretty much made Ziggy God in a godless world, I guess.
Interesting factual aside: most of the album was recorded live in Autumn, '72, before the release of Hunky Dory. Bowie planned ahead. Originally it wasn't going to include "Starman", "Suffragette City" or "Rock'n'Roll Suicide". It was going to include "Velvet Goldmine", which ended up on a B-side. Bowie has refused the use of any of his songs for Haynes' movie, preferring to keep them in stock for his own planned Ziggy revival film, 25 years on from the "retirement" of the persona which gave him the springboard to shuffle and search through some of the most incisive, cold, scorched music and imagery of our times.
The ICA in London staged, this July, a tribute to the quarter-century anniversary of that "Rock'n'Roll Suicide". They had the gall to present this as conceptual art. It wasn't. It was bollocks, after which it was funny. But I liked this, from the programme: "Ziggy bore himself, defined himself, faked himself and killed himself in surge of creative excess. Nothing related to a reality anyone knew, yet generations then and now bought in unconditionally to a way of life that can only be played out in full on= stage."
As the acid house decade has done away with stars (how the ravers need a crash course!), and Oasis and others have insisted that stars are just thick blokes in anoraks anyway, we've been shown the little old man working the levers behind the curtain in Oz. It's been of late a lean period for fantasy, mystery, the indefinable.
Ziggy really was something else.
For those of us who "never got off on that revolution stuff" and invented the term "dad-rock" when referring to the Beatles, Stones and Beach Boys, Bowie had the nous to go on to be the single most important and influential rock performer. When he became a white soul boy, so, did we. Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogs could be considered Glam albums. The former filtered in wired impressions of cracked Americans while hooking us with that larger-than-life lighting-bolt make-up. Was he perhaps, we mused, Zeus? The latter moved towards an arch Gothic, was ambitious and spooky, threatened real emotion in bursts. Pin-Ups, a collection of Mod covers (The Who, The Kinks, The Merseys) invited us to accept that maybe the Sixties weren't complete bunk after all.
The worship of celebrity is a substitute for romantic love, which has itself been defined as the need to evade the self and immerse in another, a projection, however deserving or unworthy. So you give the star your loyalty, your money. You pay your tithes. Bowie knew this, and stayed thin and hungry. Bolan did not. He drove a Rolls-Royce because it was good for his voice. As Mark Paytress wrote in his recent book, Ziggy Stardust, "Bolan enjoyed his stardom; Bowie (or Ziggy) critiqued his."
A week before his death, Bolan recorded the last in the series of amusing childrens' TV shows he'd been reduced to (although he salvaged some "credibility" by championing punk rock within its confines, and setting himself up as its "godfather", hanging out with The Banshees and Generation X and having The Damned support him on tour). This edition of Marc featured old friend/rival Bowie as guest star. Bowie, gaunt and clean-cut handsome, premiered the song "Heroes", demonstrating the healthy, advancing state of his art. Then the pair duetted on "Standing Next To You", a little (and to this day enigmatic) something they'd knocked together earlier. They were just into the first verse when Marc tripped on a cable and fell of the= stage.
"Could there have been a more painfully symbolic end to the Electric
Warrior's career?" asks Barney Hoskins. If Bowie attracted the cerebral (or
what passes for it in 12-years-olds: let's say he sparked imaginative
connections), Bolan aroused the physical. Though historians will tell you
his was standard three-chord rock played loud and in-your-face, I hear it as
pure funk. When T-Rex play, it's like tiny electrodes, fixed to my body by
crafty Lilliputians in 1972, causing my legs to suffer chronic delusions,
such as that they can groove foxily to music by white folk.
And if Bowie, Bolan and Ferry did change lives and attitudes, personally and demographically, this is where they played their strong suit. The Mods (among whom Bowie, with The Manish Boys, and Bolan, with John's Children, had flitted) had taken pride in appearance, and valued stylish self-betterment. The art-school crowd (Ferry, Eno, Harley, Sparks) had taken on board Pop Art's ice-cool reassessment of the validity of bold, glib marketing techniques. Now, with the "real" issues and campaigns that had so motivated the Sixties (between joints) seemingly resolved, and freedom of expression a pass=E9 given, the battlefield was a soft one, a matter of aesthetics. The twitches and traits of the theatre and art worlds entered the excitable realm of Hot Hits.
Bowie, for his part, had taken a number of cues from Andy Warhol's Factory scene (whereas Ferry's Pop Art references were the brasher, less nocturnal Rosenquist, Johns, and Dine - anyone who echoed the hyper-real, faintly twisted sexual veneer of Hollywood and The Jazz Age). Warhol's "superstars" - Jackie Curtis, Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling - used glitter and transvestism as weapons in their war against convention. Bowie is reported to have started painting nails and shaving eyebrows after meeting the crowd.
He'd been into The Velvet Underground (and their fixation with whips, furs and a shadowy cross-dressing demi-monde) as early as '66, and admired Warhol's toying with personae as puppets. On Hunky Dory he'd dedicated "Queen Bitch" to the Velvets ("white light returned with thanks"), who the New York Dolls were soon to replace as New York's local left-field =E9lite band. When he met Lou Reed, Bowie flirted and fawned. The habitually sarcastic Reed was sussed enough to realise that an artistic union between two self-confessed weird freaks might bear strange and wonderful fruit. Hence Transformer, produced by Bowie and Mick Ronson, and Reed's biggest commercial success, which included such declarations as, "We're coming out, out of our closets, out on the streets." In July, '72 Reed - and a similarly rehabilitated-by-Bowie's-adoration Iggy Pop - had been displayed as trophies at a Bowie press conference at the Dorchester.
Reed now denies that much ostentatious kissing took place. He also denies that he resented Bowie's taking the credit for much of Transformer, and bitched boisterously about this to the press. I know this because the sleevenotes I was asked to write for the current repacking of Transformer were vetoed by revisionist Reed himself on the grounds of "factual inaccuracies".
So he'll love Velvet Goldmine then, for the loose Curt Wild is as much based on Reed as on Iggy.
This Ig's unhinged stage performances (rolling around in gold body paint and broken glass) with The Stooges, the antithesis of Sixties feelgood surf music, had also caught Bowie's eye, and the hyperactive Englishman was soon involved with Raw Power. (Later work on The Idiot and Lust For Life was much more fruitful.) Bowie wished he had Iggy's carnal abandon, and found an element of it through playing Ziggy.
Tony DeFries, Bowie's MainMan manager, had the gumption to maximise Bowie's American obsessions, hiring a troupe of Warhol hangers-on and extras as "publicists". Their unorthodox demeanour fanned the forest fire of Bowie's mystique. And when he gave the song "All The Young Dudes" to Mott The Hoople, prior to this a run-of-the-mill West Country stodge-rock band, he conjured up Glam's international anthem. Young, foolish and slack, the glittering and priceless heard this as their very own jackboot-to-the-jacksy of "All You Need Is Love" and "Woodstock".
It even mentioned T-Rex. If Mott, who'd already turned down the gift of "Suffragette City", were in truth about as sexually ambivalent as Sid James (despite having one member called Ariel Bender), Ian Hunter at least had the grace, on their farewell single "Saturday Gig" (ironically their first with Mick Ronson) to croak: "Did you see the suits and the platform boots? Oh dear, oh gawd, oh my oh my! don't wanna be hip, but thanks for the great= trip.."
Children of The Revolution
So whatever did happen to the teenage dream? Is the world, as that notorious Glamster William Shakespeare put it, "still deceived with ornament"? Jobriath, groomed as the American Ziggy, retired in '75. He was a decade too soon for Middle America. Renamed Cole Berlin, he died of AIDS in Chelsea Hotel in 1983. Bolan died. Brian Connolly of The Sweet died. Alice Cooper plays golf. Gary Glitter became a crude joke, and then a really crude joke. Lou Reed is in denial. Steve Harley says he doesn't remember much because everyone was doing so much coke at the time. Queen saw a niche and cleaned up with "Bohemian Rhapsody", which many consider Glam's swansong. Freddie Mercury died. Mick Ronson died.
Glam Rock, for better or worse, taught me that you've got to jive to stay alive. That love is careless in its choosing; love descends on those defenceless. That the throne of time is a kingly thing, and the way somebody flips their hip can always make you weak. That it's from yourself you've got to hide, and that there'll always be a sheer, chic, teenage rebel of the week. That the one thing we shared was an ideal of beauty. And that life's a gas".
PAGE 72: A 2 pager on The 20 Best Glam Albums..Ever is naturally crawling
1 - DAVID BOWIE
THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS
If Hunky Dory cemented Bowie's reputation as the era's leading songwriter, Ziggy Stardust redefined the parameters within which such a creature could operate, an epic cycle of songs taking in imminent world destruction ("Five Years"), optimism about extraterrestrial intervention ("Starman") and emotional collapse under the pressure of stardom ('Rock And Roll Suicide"), Ziggy was a blueprint for generations past and yet to come: a concept that dared to address the fate of mankind. As superficially flash and heavy on the trash-Glam aesthetic as any of its peers, it remains the ultimate Glam document, while its serious intent makes it an anomaly in a period preoccupied with style over content. Highest UK chart position:5
Highest US chart position:75
4 - MOTT THE HOOPLE
Mott the Hoople had a life before their "discovery" by long-term fan David Bowie, who persuaded them to reform following their first split in 1972, but their records only began to reflect their stunning live shows following the injection of confidence they received with their first hit, the Bowie-penned "All The Young Dudes". Strangely obsessed with mythologising his own band, leader Ian Hunter produced this brilliant obituary as Mott disintegrated before his eyes. Most revealing of all is the terrifying confessional, "Marionette", wherein Hunter expresses eloquently the paranoiac horror of leading his band through their final dark days. Highest UK chart position: 11
Highest US chart position: 28
5 - IGGY AND THE STODGES
Iggy Pop, awakened from narcotic slumber for the first time by David Bowie following the disintegration of the original Stooges, took inspiration from Glam to produce his most extreme noise-fest to date. Originally mixed by Bowie on ropey, ageing equipment, the recent Iggy-supervised remaster blows away the original, leaving Raw Power as the mother of all heavy rock albums, as well as a punk rock primer - pinpointing the unease/disease at the heart of Glam. "Search And Destroy" espoused the nihilism of the late Vietnam Nixon years, while "Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell" is as close as the album gets to a love song. Who else but Iggy could end his greatest album with a ditty called "Death Trip"?
Highest UK chart position:44 (on re-issue in 1977) Highest US chart position:182
7 - LOU REED
David Bowie took over the producer's seat for Reed's second solo LP (whose rear sleeve featured an alleged Reed in full whore's regalia). These highly personal observations on the less salubrious aspects of New York life complemented perfectly the Glam androgynes of the UK scene. As a committed Velvets aficionado, Bowie took great delight in commercialising the sound of his hero, who even managed a Top 10 hit with the risqu=E9 "Walk On The Wild Side". The symbolic relationship between Bowie and Reed (mirroring the earlier turbulent relationship between Reed and Glam antecedent Andy Warhol) made it difficult to ascertain which was the mentor and which the prot=E9g= =E9
but, for a brief period, it was a marriage made in heaven. Highest UK chart position:13
Highest US chart position:29
8 - DAVID BOWIE
After the creative twin peaks of Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust, this one saw our hero treading water artistically. The sound was now more Stones than Velvets, and "Jean Genie", although inspired by both Iggy Pop and Jean Genet, sounded a little too close to The Sweet's "Blockbuster". However, "Time", the album's highpoint, was a Brechtian nightmare pulled from the same deep recesses of the psyche which had produced the darkly disturbing The Man Who Sold The World. Debate still rages as to the significance of the American cities that subtitled the 10 tracks on the original vinyl sleeve. One theory is that, as Bowie crossed the States, during the 1973 tour, he was possessed by visions of meltdown epitomised by the urban paranoia of "Panic In Detroit".
Highest UK chart position:1
Highest US chart position:17
9 - ROXY MUSIC
More importantly, it provided the band with a quirky hit single in "Virginia Plain" (added to the CD reissue), and an image to rival Bolan and Bowie. Highest UK chart position:10
Highest US chart position: none
11 - ENO
HERE COME THE WARM JETS
When Bowie declined the request to use his music in Velvet Goldmine, selections from this album (with its titular reference to urination) provided a more than adequate alternative. Highest UK chart position:26
Highest US chart position:151
12 - SLADE
SLADE ALIVE 12
Their longevity was assured when they secured the Christmas Number One slot in 1973 with "Merry Xmas Everybody", while the nation's rent-a-thugs ironically embraced guitarist Dave Hill's flirty androgyny just as readily as they did the more radically feminised Bowie. Highest UK chart position:2
Highest US chart position:158
13 - COCKNEY REBEL
Cockney Rebel arrived a little late in May, 1974 with their first hit, "Judy Teen", but by the time of this, their second album, had managed to fashion a collection of songs to rival the contemporaneous work of their inspirators, Bolan and Bowie.
Highest UK chart position:8
Highest US chart position: none
14 - DAVID BOWIE
By the time of this release, Glam was more or less dead. Not that you could tell from the polymorphously perverse gatefold sleeve, which had to be hurriedly amended following complaints about Bowie's clearly visible alien-canine genitalia. Bowie's descent into hermaphroditic exotica was complete. Musically, there's no shortage of classics here, but a sense of disorientation pervades, following Bowie's on-stage "retirement" at the Hammersmith Odeon on July 4, 1973 and the disbandment of The Spiders. Some of the material is left over from an abandoned project based on George Orwell's 1984. Diamond Dogs gave Bowie his first US Top 10 LP, and consequently the opportunity for the uncalm chameleon to spend more time in the US, plotting his next move: white soul. Highest UK chart position:1
Highest US chart position:5
15 - BRIAN FERRY
THESE FOOLISH THINGS
In contrast to his group activities, These Foolish Things relied exclusively on cover versions, paving the way for Bowie's Pin-Ups..... Highest UK chart position:5
Highest US chart position: none
18 - DAVID BOWIE
A mixed bag of Bowie's faves from his club days, but including at least a
couple of classics in remakes of The Mersey's "Sorrow" and The Easybeats'
"Friday On My Mind". The production on "See Emily Play" is OTT, but the
closing version of Ray Davies' "Where Have All The Good Times Gone?" alone
is worth the price of admission. Note that none of the originals were more
than eight years old at the time of the album's release, and yet they were
presented as relics from a long-forgotten age: an early sign of Eighties
post-modernism? Curiously, the definitive Glam-Bowie image of this period
was inspired by Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, whose 2001: A Space
Odyssey had earlier provided the motivation for "Space Oddity"
Highest UK chart position:1
Highest US chart position:23"
PAGE 74: A piece on Mott The Hoople:
"ALL THE YOUNG DUDES
Mott The Hoople were going nowhere in a rush, until David Bowie gave them the Glam Rock anthem that rescued their career and turned them into stars, IAN HUNTER looks back on the days of satin and tat...
Glam Rock and David Bowie saved Mott The Hoople from extinction. True or false?
"I really don't know if we were a Glam band. We were a rock'n'roll band that was very flashy. I thought we were more in the Stones tradition than the Glam tradition. But obviously because of 'All The Young Dudes', we became a part of it.
Mott had had three singles and four albums by that time and they'd all failed miserably. We were selling out every place in England, but it seemed we wouldn't be selling out much longer. We were really worried. Radio didn't want to play us, the albums hadn't done much. We didn't just need a hit - we needed a classic.
We split up in Switzerland and the bass player phoned David Bowie because he heard Bowie needed a bassist. Bowie explained that Mott shouldn't split up and he'd write a song immediately. I turned down the first one he offered us - 'Suffragette City'. He was small at the time and so were we, so it was just normal practice, I didn't think it was strong enough. I first met him in an office in Regent Street where he sat on the floor and played 'Dudes' on an acoustic guitar. He has a great way of charming you - at least he did at that time. He came to see us at Guildford Civic Hall. Every night on that tour he would send flowers to the dressing room."
He romanced you?
"In a way it was quite charming, but I found it strange. I'd been working in factories all me life and all of a sudden there were bunches of flowers all over the place. Angie told me it took four hours for him to get ready when he came to see us that night in Guildford. I remember thinking "Why?" He wasn't even playing."
Bowie's manager Tony DeFries soon took control of the band. How was that? "He managed Mott reluctantly. When David went for something, he went for it totally, and Tony had to go along with it. It was difficult for DeFries because all of a sudden, David was meteoric and we were getting big as well and he didn't have the hours in the day. We were both trying to move America as well and he was trying to keep the same crew for each band, so if one of us was working the other was sitting home.
It was pretty complicated, we weren't over keen on him. If he had control, he was a happy camper - there was nothing he wouldn't do for David. If David wanted an elephant outside his door in the morning, it would be there. But when he didn't have total control he was extremely destructive, and it was difficult for him with Mott because there was no leader, it was a viciously diplomatic group. I tried to be the leader, but they just told me to fuck off."
Success changed the way you wrote songs, too.
"I'd always thought there was more to it than just wandering in a studio and flapping about. With David and Mick Ronson we found that out to be true. So we started working really hard at it because now the story was that we couldn't do it without David. We lived with that for a year, it was scary but it drove me on at the same time. I guess we got serious, someone was going to have to write in Bowie's place and we all had a go. We had a guy called Bill Price working with us, a really underrated figure who worked with The Sex Pistols and The Clash later on. Roxy Music came by one night when we were in the studio and Eno said, 'You don't really need a producer, just carry on what you're doing with Bill.' He was right. Bill was the best there was. He was extremely fast and, like you can hear in The Clash's work, he had a variety of effects on hand to allow us chaps with no real musical ability or experience to just pull up a fader and go whooah! George Martin used to come and sit in and listen because it was his studio, but it never dawned on us to go anywhere near him. We regarded him like he was Sixties stuff - 'We're not touching that.'"
What are your memories of meeting Lou Reed?
"We didn't understand him and he didn't understand us. We were doing 'Sweet Jane', which was Bowie's idea. We hadn't a clue what this song was about. I hadn't even been to New York at the time. David suggested Lou come in to explain what it was about. I found him more than slightly affected. It was all a bit tiresome. He was in love with David, I think, and we were getting caught in whatever personal business arrangement they had at the time."
Did you feel like you were becoming Bowie's pawns?
"I was well aware of it. I knew David could eat people, so I wasn't going to go for that. We never signed our contracts with DeFries. I kept them all in a piano stool. We didn't want to get sucked in. It was all very wonderful and marvellous, but something held you back. It cost David dearly to find that one out."
PAGE 76: A two page feature focusing on musicians who were children in 1972:
"CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION
Who was where and what were they doing in 1972, the Year Of Glam
Mansun's visionary singer, PAUL DRAPER, was just a bundle of joy... "I WAS born in 1972, but I did catch late Gary Glitter on television. But it's Bowie who stands out for me. I had two older sisters who were massive Bowie fans, Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogs were Bowie at his peak. Although it was way after the actual period, I did get into make-up a bit. There were some dodgy fashion mistakes.
All that Glam look influenced punk. I've never met a punk who wasn't a Bowie fan - even Johnny Rotten's orange hair was a throwback to Ziggy Stardust. The only contemporary group to bring all that Glam ethic togather is the Manics, especially during the early Nineties."
In 1972, BILLY BRAGG was 14 years old and living in Barking... "IT was T-Rex for me in '72, that was when they had their own label, the blue label with Marc Bolan's face on it. The following year, it was all Slade, they were the lads' Glam band. There was always that distinction between the art school lot and the rest of us, but art school is where Glam came from. The art school lot had heard The Velvet Underground, the rest of us didn't know Lou Reed from fuck.
By 1974, it was clear to us where the girls were going at lunch time. They were all round each other's houses near the school listening to David Bowie. So we had to overcome our initial feelings about David Bowie being 'not as other men', and accept the fact that you couldn't catch homosexuality from listening to records.
Otherwise we couldn't hang out with the girls. My strongest memory is not being able to get a ticket to see Bowie on the Ziggy tour at Romford Odeon. I realised then that I'd really fucking missed the boat, that I was not part of the cool crowd. It was so seldom that any of the people we worshipped came anywhere near our school, and there was Bowie - Romford! It's fuckin' incredible. Couldn't get a ticket, and my parents probably wouldn't have taken me anyway."
PHIL MANZANERA found himself at the forefront of glam when he joined Roxy Music as a guitarist... "In 1972 it was like Christmas every day. We played with Bowie at The Greyhound in Croydon and later on the Ziggy Stardust tour."
GARY NUMAN was a 14-year-old student called Gary Webb at Ashford Grammar
School in Middlesex...
"I WAS going through puberty and I was into a girl called Shelly Brookes. But I bottled out completely when I got the chance. Typical. At that time I was a huge T-Rex fan, and when David Bowie came out there seemed to be a bit of friction between the two - and if you were a T-Rex fan you didn't get into David Bowie, and vice versa. I got into David Bowie much later. I never saw T-Rex live, but I went to see Born To Boogie about 20 times. When I got expelled from the grammar school and finally got to go to a few discos, I was the wallflower in his best Marc Bolan outfit. In 1972, I had a haircut like Dave Hill out of Slade with the really high fringe. I didn't want it, but I was particularly badly behaved that year, so my mum did it to punish me. Shortly after that I got into David Bowie, so I had it dyed and spiked as best I could, but it never really went right."
Flamboyant diva-to-be (BOY) GEORGE O'DOWD was at school in south London
suffering from awful Bowie haircuts...
"I THINK '72 and '73 blended into one for me. I saw Bowie for the first time on The Old Greay Whistle Test singing 'Starman' in a snakeskin catsuit, and then went to see him on the Ziggy Stardust tour at Lewisham Odeon. My Auntie Joan tried to give me a Bowie haircut, but it went horribly wrong and I ended up looking like Dave Hill from Slade. Glam caught on very quickly in Britain because we're a small island and we have a long history of drag. Look at our judges, our priests and our old Kings and Queens. You have to remember that America was founded on puritanism. They don't understand camp. I'll explain it like this: England spawned Bowie and America spawned Kiss."
Sigue Sigue Sputnik's future-terrorist, MARTIN DEGVILLE, was studying Hotel
Management in Birmingham.
"Before Culture Club formed, Boy George used to stay with me in Birmingham and once he bleached his hair in an attempt to look like Ziggy Stardust. But he fell asleep with the bleach still on and his hair dropped out. It was hilarious. We called him Wiggy Stardust."
Saint Etienne's synth-maestro, BOB STANLEY, was a young kid being scared by
"I REMEMBER being frightened by 'Starman' on Top Of The Pops and my Mum thought he was horrible."
Ex-Frankie Goes To Hollywood singer, WILLIAM 'HOLLY' JOHNSON, was about to shock Liverpool with his Bolan-to-Bowie metamorphosis... "I WAS living in Penny Lane attending the Collegiate Grammar School For Boys and transforming from pre-pubescent schoolboy through Marc Bolan wannabe to David Bowie devotee. They made my favourite records - such as 'Electric Warrior', 'Metal Guru', 'Telegram Sam', '20th Century Boy', 'Ziggy Stardust', 'Aladdin Sane', 'Drive In Saturday' and 'Starman'. Bowie was great because he was the first to declare publicly his bisexuality - at least I think he was. There are still no 'out' pop stars in America, are there? Only female ones who don't threaten the male-dominated music industry. I had a whole list of icons: Bolan, Bowie, Lou Reed, Andy Warhol, Jean Genet, William Burroughs, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich. All my life-changing moments occurred on The Old Grey Whistle Test. I remember seeing The New York Dolls, Roxy Music, Bowie and Klaus Nomi on there."
In 1972, Duran Duran's NICK RHODES was a fresh-faced Brummie schoolboy about
to be transformed by Bowie...
"I BOUGHT Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars when I was 10, and that is when my life began to be engulfed by music. I was at junior school in Hollywood, Birmingham and all the groovy kids were into Bowie, Roxy and T-Rex. There were loads of horrible kids who wore parkas and listened to noisy prog rock and heavy metal. Slade were OK. They came from Birmingham, bless 'em, so I can't be too nasty about them. Roxy were great. They just looked so different on television. I loved Phil Manzanera's sunglasses - straight out of a bug horror movie. They always put on huge productions live and you knew it would be special. Duran Duran were certainly influened stylistically by Roxy. They were always so detailed, and, as we all know, God hides in the details. But other Glam-related stuff like Sparks, Lou Reed and Iggy influenced me as wll. John Taylor was two years older than me, but I used to take him to gigs. We saw Mick Ronson together once he'd gone solo. He really is a forgotten icon of that period. I started wearing make-up when I was a bit older. I would've used my Mum's make-up box, but she probably didn't have the colours I was after. So I always used my girlfriend's make-up instead. I wore anything that glittered and shone."
ABC's bruised Casanova, MARTIN FRY, was being entranced by Bowie in Stockport... "I REMEMBER eating beans on toast watching Bowie on television and nearly spilling my dinner. I think it weas on Lift Off With Ayshea, which was this brilliant Granada programme. It was during Glam Rock that I realised that I was a square peg in a round hole. But Glam was everywhere. I used to go and watch Manchester United and stand on the Stretford End where all these hooligans would wear mascara on one eye, copying A Clockwork Orange. I wore eyeliner to my first gig, which was Steve Harley And Cockney Rebel, and there were loads of Ferry lookalikes on the train with me. It was wonderful."
PAGE 78: A one pager on "Why the frightening prospect of a full-scale Glam
revival fills David Stubbs with dread...":
"At the age of 10, I thought it was impossible to make a heavier record than "Ballroom Blitz" by The Sweet, that it was impossible to look cooler than David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust phase, that Gary Glitter was the hardest man in rock and Marc Bolan the scariest.
The period tends to be looked back on with a laboured irony, a joke that's long curdled into Hale & Pace-style tedium, that appeals to that rather feeble British sensibility that can't help but smile when the words "Tom Jones" are mentioned. But from Bowie through to Brian Connolly, Glam was undertaken in a spirit of deadly earnestness, 4 Real. To have said that David Bowie looked silly in his Ziggy period would have marked you out as a clueless reactionary."
PAGE 92: A 3-star review of the new Mott The Hoople anthology:
"Mott were facing oblivion in 1972 when Bowie gave them "All The Young Dudes". The kick this gave to their career carried them into 1974, whereupon they, like many other old Sixties lags, hit the wall..... Bowie fans, too, will have to buy it for the curiosity of hearing His Nibs' faintly cerebral demo vocal for "All The Young Dudes".
PAGE 98: 5-star review of Lou Reed's "Transformer":
"HE'D just turned 30, and Lou Reed's post-Velvets solo career was proving frustrating. One admirer, finding himself the hottest thing of 1972, offered to produce his next album and drag the grumpy guru kicking and screaming into the Glam Rock revolution. Bowie's (and Mick Ronson's) contributions to Reed's most successful work, now repackaged for a 25th anniversary waltz, are evident in abundance, from the gorgeous trademark backing vocal on "Satellite Of Love" to the satin-and-tat swagger of "Hangin' Round" and "Vicious".
His dark wit and Bowie's pop charm, make this ode to flux a durable, sneering classic which smiles despite itself."
PAGE 100: A 4-star review of Placebo's "Without You I'm Nothing":
"They played up a storm with an excellent debut that mixed classic US alt-rock with the glittery swagger of T-Rex and David Bowie. Not only were they influenced by Bowie, they were befriended by him."
PAGE 104: a 4-star review of Marilyn Manson's Mechanical Animals:
"This is an unrepentant Glam album, drawing heavily on Marc Bolan's high-pitched and heavily overlaid choruses and, in particular, Bowie's Ziggy stomp. It's metal-infused, of course, and frighteningly well-produced, and Manson, dealing lyrically with faithlessness, narcissism and therapy culture, intelligently combines Bowie's space-age alienation with Cobain's pained listlessness to produce an LP that's absolutely state-of-the-art."
PAGE 113: a 5-star review of Velvet Goldmine:
"This wonderful hymn to youthful ebullience, excess and the perennial posturing of pop examines the case history of Brian Slade (Meyers), aka Maxwell Demon, early Seventies Glam Rock pioneer and, by any other name, Ziggy Stardust. That's some legend to live up to, particularly without Bowie's support, yet Haynes carries off a multi-layered film of kaleidoscopic pizzazz and wit.
On his quest he meets managers Cecil (Michael Feast) and Jerry Devine (Eddie Izzard as Tony DeFries), and Slade's ex-wife, Mandy, as whom Toni Collette approximates Angie Bowie brilliantly, with a bomb disposal expert's pinpoint grasp of the brittle nuances beneath bravado."
PAGE 126: A review of Stella Street:
"INSIDE a sedate suburban tennis club in west London, bizarre transformations are taking place. Michael Caine is slowly morphing into David Bowie, shedding his sober Sleuth-era blazer and donning his even sillier Serious Moonlight threads.
Arch impressionists John Sessions and Phil Cornwell provide his cast of thousands, slipping from Bowie to Brando to Bogarde with just a dab of make-up, a change of jacket and an obvious wig. .....
Do they argue over who gets to be Bowie or Pacino? "No, it's very democratically decided," says Sessions."
PAGE 131: A 4-star review of Barney Hoskyns' new book, "Glam! Bowie, Bolan
And The Glitter Rock Revolution".
PAGE 138: Uncut's editor, Allan Jones, revives his now infamous "Lou bops
This remixed version is somewhat different from the original (which you can read in full at Bassman's site at http://www.algonet.se/~bassman/articles/1979/lou%20bops%20bowie.html):
"April, 1979, Lou Reed's just played a famously cantankerous show at the Hammersmith Odeon, half the audience walking out when he announces he's not going to play "Heroin", which he does as soon as they're off the premises, the set ending with a 45-minute version of "You Keep Me Hanging On", sung by his bass player and played at excruciating volume.
My ears are still ringing on the way out, when I get word that Lou wants to see me backstage for a drink. When I get there, Lou's already split with David Bowie, for dinner at the Chelsea Rendezvous in Sydney Street, South Kensington. Lou's left an invitation for me to join them there. Dinner with Lou and The Thin White Duke? I'm off to South Ken like a shot.
This is what I find at the Chelsea Rendezvous: Lou and David in a huddle at the head of their table. Lou's got his arm around David's shoulder. David is smiling, Lou's laughing, slapping the table. I'm called over by Lou. Bowie looks up at me.
"Allan," he says, extending a hand.
"David," I say, taking it.
"Nice to see you," says David. "How are you?"
His charm is overwhelming.
"ALLAN!," roars Lou.
"Lou," I reply, less raucously.
Lou grabs my hand, nearly breaking a finger in the process. He yanks me across the table. I almost end up in Bowie's lap. I have an elbow in the remains of Lou's dinner.
"Do you know Allan?" Lou asks Bowie.
"We meet occasionally," he tells Lou.
"Did you see the show tonight?" Lou asks me. I tell him I'm still recovering, which makes him laugh.
"Good," he says. "What did you think of it?"
"I felt like I was being given a good pistol-whipping."
"You probably deserved it," Lou snaps.
I decide to leave them to their supper.
"Yeah," says Lou. "Go."
I go. Lou turns back to David, they get their heads down, the old pals' act well under way. Lou gets up and waddles down the restaurant to talk to some people at a nearby table. He grabs a chair for Bowie, who's followed him. There's a great deal of mutual backslapping, good times remembered. Lou orders Irish coffee. Lou and David raise their glasses in a toast.
It's a touching scene.
They resume their original places, resume their conversation. Five minutes later, the place is in uproar. Bowie's said something to Lou. Lou isn't amused. He fetches David a smart crack about the head. Fists are flying. Most of them are Lou's and they're being aimed in violence at Bowie. David ducks, tries to protect himself. Lou is on his feet, screaming furiously at Bowie, still lashing out. "Don't you EVER say that to me!" he bellows hysterically, "Don't you EVER fucken say that to ME!"
About nine people pile on Lou, wrestle him away from Bowie. There's an arm around his throat. He continues to spit insults at Bowie, who sits at the table staring impassively, clearly hoping Lou will go away, fuck off and calm down. Lou shrugs off his minders (or are they Bowie's?). There's a terrible silence. People are watching open-mouthed, incredulous.
Lou sits down next to Bowie. They embrace, there's a massive sigh of relief. Lou and David kiss and make up. Meals are resumed. More wine is brought to the tables. It looks as if the tiff has blown over.
The next thing I know, Lou is dragging Bowie across the table by the front of his shirt and smacking him in the face. The place explodes in chaos again. Whatever David had said to precipitate the first frank exchange of conflicting opinions, he's obviously rather foolishly repeated. Lou is besides himself with rage and rains slaps down upon Bowie's head before anyone can drag him off.
"I told you NEVER to say that," Lou screeches, fetching the hapless Bowie another backhander, another furry of blows follows in hot pursuit. Lou is batting David about the top of his head. David cowers. Lou gets in a few more solid punches before he's hauled off the whimpering Bowie. Lou struggles with the minders, tries again to launch himself at Bowie.
The silence that follows is ghastly. Lou's party decide it's time to leave. Lou is escorted from the restaurant by an especially burly minder, who frogmarches him to the exit, a restraining arm around his shoulders. Lou's face is set in a demented scowl. He doesn't look back. Bowie is left at the head of the table, which is covered in debris. He's sitting with his head in his hands and appears to be sobbing. I wander over. Bowie asks me to join him.
"There isn't a chair," I tell him.
"Then sit on the table," he replies, a little testily.
I sit on the table, tell him I'm sorry that his reunion with Lou seems to have ended so disastrously. "I couldn't hear what was going on ... Lou seemed very upset ..."
"Yes," says Bowie, wearily. He seems close to tears.
"It was nothing. It's all over," says Bowie's female companion, looking at me suspiciously.
"It isn't," says Bowie, hands clenched, eyes glaring.
"Are you a reporter?" someone asks.
I admit I am and I'm told to leave.
"David's just invited me to stay," I protest quietly. "I was just wondering what happened."
This does it. Bowie leaps to his feet. "FUCK OFF!" he shouts. He means me. "If you want to know what happened, you'll have to ask Lou Reed. Don't bother me with your fucking questions. Ask fucking Lou. He knows what fucking happened. He'll tell you."
"But he's gone," I tell Bowie.
Bowie, angry now and showing it, turns on me, grabs me by the lapels and starts shaking me. I think for a minute of headbutting the little squirt, but don't.
"Just FUCK OFF!" Bowie swears, shoving me back. "You're a journalist - go and f***ing find him. Ask him what happened. I don't know."
He pushes me again, turns away, knocking chairs out of his way. I'm grabbed from behind and dragged back to my table. Bowie sits down again. Then he stands up. He starts throwing the furniture around.
"Ahhhh FUCK!" he declares. He pushes his way down the restaurant, kicking chairs out of the way. He begins to climb the stairs to the street. Most of the steps on the stairway are decorated with potted plants and small shrubs, and a palm tree or two. Bowie smashes most of them on his way out. He kicks a few, up-ends the others.
There's a most terrible mess on the stairs. The remaining guests are speechless at this further outburst. The waiters look on, astonished. We share their amazement, my companion and I.
"I think you've just upset The Thin White Duke," she says.
"I think perhaps I have," I reply.
A couple of days later, I'm talking to the manager of the Chelsea Rendezvous. He tells met Bowie has already sent "a bodyguard" to the restaurant to pay for the damage. The cause of the altercation remains obscure, however. Lou's not talking. In fact, he'd flown out early the next morning to Dublin, cancelling all engagements.
What seems to have happened is this: Bowie had volunteered to produce Lou's next album, but only on the condition that Lou cleaned up his act, goet himself together, off drugs, booze, whatever. At the suggestion that he was too untogether, Lou blew up. Fists flew. Punches were thrown.
A further irony is added to the tale when it's announced at the end of the week that Bowie's new single is called "Boys Keep Swinging".
Oh, how we laughed.