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The David Bowie Story
The Record Mirror Special: The David Bowie Story is one of the rarest of all David Bowie books and magazines. Published in late 1972 this A3-sized soft-cover magazine contains 28 pages of commentary illustrated with numerous photographs of David Bowie's career to this point. The following is a full reproduction of the words and images from this publication.
Record Mirror advert (13 January 1973)
"Hero From Mars" (pg. 3-5)
David Bowie said: "Musically and creatively, I have always been an instigator, rather than an artisan." Make of that what you will - but certainly David leads and lets lesser talents follow. And David Bowie said: "I want to retain the position of being a Photostat machine with an image, because I think most songwriters are anyway."
And even is it's sometimes hard to follow the exact meaning of a David Bowie quote, as it is sometimes hard to get the precise meaning of some of his song lyrics, you try hard to win that understanding. Because he is a superstar. There are others superstars in pop music of course, but David is different kind of superstar. They could make a movie of his life story, stick rigidly to the facts ... but the chances are that it would have to be watered down on the grounds that most people wouldn't believe it.
And many times in his checkered career, people haven't believed him. They talked of him finding stardom, but the talk fizzled out and the critics and the industry bosses turned to new young hopefuls and sometimes David thought he'd never make it. He dreamed of being a glossy, big-time, headlined, IMPORTANT star, but they can knock the stuffing out of you in pop music if they want, and they don't feel a moment's remorse. But they believe David Bowie now. They know he's a world star. The "photostat machine" is not only human, but he's freaky!
His whole world has been one of "ch-ch-ch-ch-changes," to take the title of one of his finest songs. He never was one for standing still and taking whatever happened to come his way. He believed in reaching out and grabbing and if people laughed at him, derided him ... well, what was that old nursery rhyme that went? ... sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.
Page 3 image
Break down the Bowie career and ... well, let's whet the appetite. Schooldays which were NOT the happiest days; playing tenor sax with a modern jazz group; into Buddhism, but seriously; into an advertising agency and all that kind of guff; into blues; into forming a Scottish monastery; into a mime company; into love; into a so-called Arts Lab; trying to promote the ideals and creative aspects of the underground.
Into chart stardom, in November 1970. And out of it again - a virtual disappearance from the pop world. And a re-emergence in 1972, presenting some of the most controversial sights and sounds ever witnessed in an industry which has always thrived on the controversial.
There's more, much more. We'll dig deeper as the story unfolds. Its the story of disappointment, allied to the occasional mind-warming deviation into other scenes, other places. Bowie never sounds bored, maybe because he's never given himself time to be bored.
But now he's a superstar, and he's one of that rare breed who has done it on the strength of his stage personality and his recorded talent. You don't ask David Bowie what his favourite food is, or his favourite colour, or his personal preference in night attire, or any of the damn-fool questions that are normally fired at upcoming pop stars. Take Paul McCartney. Now when the Beatles first hit the bemused eardrums of a fan-following fed up with a diet of boy-next-door lyrical rubbish, Paul was prepared to go along with the questioning. And it transpired that he was exceptionally fond of Kraft cheese slices, black socks - and jelly babies. He soon wished he hadn't been quite so flippant. After all, there is a limit to how many cheese slices you can eat, and for sure you can only wear, at best, two pairs of black socks at the same time. As for jelly babies, well ... if flung with sufficient power at a musician partly blinded by the spotlights, they could hurt like hell.
David Bowie, superstar, hasn't developed in that kind of scene. He's been carefully managed in his big-star days, and protected from the overexposure that so often hits the pop giants. Everybody writes about a certain star so that in the end the public are turned off where before they were turned on. So, the Bowie story is NOT studded with facts and figures about his personal life. But there's plenty to be said about his influence on the pop scene. And as he has so often behaved like a musical grasshopper in his own career, so his story is inevitably one of fits and starts, hops and jumps ... and the first point to take is what pop music was like when he first jumped into the charts.
November, 1970. The record was Space Oddity and it was backed by Wild Eyed Boy From Free Cloud and it was his first single for the Philips group, coming out on Mercury. And David said at the time that it was his first single he really wanted to release. He wrote both sides, and he co-arranged it with Paul Buckmaster, one of the world's finest arrangers of pop-type string sections. And it was produced by Gus Dudgeon, and recorded in Trident Studio's in London, and the engineer was one Barry Sheffield. All those "accessories" are on the cast list deserve mention, because they all kicked in various talents to create one of the finest singles of that year.
Actually it was a funny old year, 1970. The pop pundits kicked their heels and shuffled around and regretted the lack of activity on the part of the Beatles, who'd dominated the scene since 1962, and they wondered who, or what, was going to emerge to trigger off new sensations. So the pop world into which Space Oddity was launched was going round in circles, rather than being launched into new orbit.
Top artists of the previous year had been a pretty mixed bag. Fleetwood Mac were big, just a shade bigger than the arguing and slipping Beatles. Solo stars doing best in the charts were Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye - those old gentlemen Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra -the Hollies and the Bee Gees, Nothing new? Not much, to be honest. Peter Sarstedt had topped the charts with a beautiful song called "Where Do You Go To?", but he couldn't find the flair or the sound to follow it up. There was the odd outbreak of reggae, via Desmond Dekker and Johnny Nash and the like. Amen Corner, the Move, the Foundations, the Archies .... all with hit records, but just ponder where they are now.
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---This page last modified: 29 Jun 2002---