Magazine article USA TODAY

Bowie Never Will Bow Out

Magazine article USA TODAY

Bowie Never Will Bow Out

Article excerpt

WHENEVER I see something written about David Bowie, I want to write more. Whenever I hear one of his songs I want to play more--and whenever I am reminded of his death, I want to remember more of his life. Because in that time and on this Earth, Bowie made a difference. He is the story of my life; he is about growing up and working with people whose records I had bought as a kid. He is about some wonderful memories and he is about some very special moments.

My earliest recollections date back to February 1969 in my old hometown of Manchester in the north of England. I was a teenager and took a train into the city with my girlfriend to go to The Magic Village, one of the coolest places for bands to play and a regular haunt for us kids to congregate. That day, we arrived a little earlier than usual and, as she had run out of cigarettes, I offered to pop down the street and buy her a pack. While she stood around waiting, this guy came over; they started talking and he invited her inside for a drink. She smiled, "No thanks, I'm with someone."

The following day, we found out his name: David Bowie. He was due to appear with Tyrannosaurus Rex and had turned up at The Magic Village the night before with just his acoustic guitar. That evening, he played an intimate gig to 30 people at the bar... and I was not one of them. We were hungry and had gone down the road for a kebab; it started to rain, so we decided to take the train home. I may have missed out on that magical evening, but took some solace in knowing that she had turned down Bowie's advances for me.

Over the years and as a fan, I attended many of his shows and enjoyed each and every one. You never knew what to expect when Bowie came to town; he always would push the boundaries and create a live show that was very special. What made it even it better was you could see how much Bowie and the band were enjoying themselves. Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars at The Hard Rock Cafe in Manchester in 1972 still remains as one of the best live shows I ever have seen.

After a few quiet years with just one hit, "Space Oddity," he created the myth of an alien rock star and put on a show to match that fantasy. Before long, he was everywhere; the kids had started to dress and wear makeup like him, and were fast becoming Ziggy caricatures. He became a cultural and fashion icon. If you wanted to be in a band, you wanted to be him.

Over the next couple of years, though, and much to his detriment, he became that alter ego, the very thing he had created. Fortunately for us all, he saw the damage that the drugs were doing to him and decided to do something about it. Ziggy was dead but Bowie lived on. His career flourished as he propelled himself forward, constantly reinventing himself while remaining the creative chameleon to the mass of people who followed his every move. Fast forward to the 1990s: I had been running my own public relations company, handling all the regional promotion for a number of well-known acts, one of whom was Bowie. Our job was to get radio play but, as he was not akin to doing any local radio interviews, I never really had the opportunity to meet him. All of that changed when, one afternoon in the summer of 1997, I got a message from the Outside Organization, Bowie's management company, to call them.

Naturally, I assumed there was something wrong, but had no inclination of what that might be. Bowie was on tour but, as far as I was concerned, we were on top of everything. We were extending invites to the media and gathering whatever on-the-road promotion we could by way of getting local television to air his video and promote the shows. I called them back and spoke to his PR lady, Roxy Meade. The first thing she said was, "What are you doing tomorrow? We're not going to be able to cover the Bowie tour and we'd like you to do it. Can you meet us at the Manchester show at 4 p.m. tomorrow? David likes to meet everyone he is going to be working with personally. …

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