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David Bowie - The Elvis Of the Seventies

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by Lillian Roxon - New York Sunday News (1972)

It was just after the Elvis concert and David Bowie and I were sitting in his suite at Park Lane Hotel (that's where record companies put people when they think they're going to make money for them) discussing how primitive the by-products of rock business are.

Toys, for instance.  Columbia once put out a Sly doll for promotion.  It was just horrible. Atlantic had a Flip Wilson-Geraldine one that said "What you see is what you get" if you pulled a cord.  But that was it.

Yet Marc Bolan once showed me a doll of himself someone sent him and it was just brilliant, a work of art.

"If you put out a David Bowie doll with seven changes of wardrobe, I'd buy it," I told David.  Imagine what a collector's item that would be, long after Ken and Barbie are forgotten.

"I am a David Bowie doll," he said, jumping up and down and letting his hands flop loosely by his sides.  Actually, he is planning to have one out for Christmas.  Would it have dresses and Lauren Bacall hair as well as an orange crewcut and a dozen paisley stretch jumpsuits, so it could be the old David as well as the new? NO, he said absently fondling an orange-haired Christie doll he'd just bought, but probably it would have hair that grew (the Christie doll did) and it would probably say things like "I love you" and "I like to dress up" and I hope it would have a wardrobe of things like the sequined battle jacket and satin knickers and high laced boots that David and his band wear on stage.

In England, where he is incredibly popular (he's still just an in-group cult figure here but wait till "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust" LP takes off) amd fans have already designed Ziggy Stardust stationery for themselves.

David's wife Angela likes the idea of sheets and pillows, and maybe an inflatable Ziggy doll that "moves and grooves with you."

I happen to think that, at least from where the audience sits, all rock n roll stars look like dolls, and that there are a lot of people who'd rather collect well-made and designed rock n roll dolls than those tacky posters that are nothing more than a bad enlargement of what was never a very good picture right from the beginning.

I also think if the garment industry is really in the doldrums, that they might look a little more closely at the world of music and instead of pirating from it, very clumsily at that, enlist some of its more original spirits to design not just the clothing but an entirely new environment for buying and selling it.  I think everything David Bowie has ever worn has been a creative masterpiece right down to the red vinyl clog boots with the sky-high cork soles.  He told me he's always getting ideas from drawings kids send him in the mail.  One kid sent him sketches for a whole wardrobe that were just, he paused for the right word, exquisite.

He already has plans to put out a whole sheet of Ziggy Stardust decals with his next album.  I saw them and they're really beautiful.

About the only things I've seen rock stars put out are embroidered patches which stupidly are given out to people like disc jockeys instead of fans.   The best in my collection is the Allman Brother's "Eat a Peach" one with a huge embroidered peach.  I have it on my upper elbow, next to Quicksilver Messenger Service's "Eagle" and Art Deco "The Who" and Island Record's great "Palm Tree."

The there are the Rolling Stone's postcards (you get them in the new album, as you probably know).  A whole set, expensively designed, but missing the whole point, that they should look like real postcards.  A line of rock n roll postcards would be just fabulous.  I can't think  why no one has thought of it.

I know what some of you are thinking now, that all this has very little to do with music, that David Bowie is a bigger talent than his theatrics and his wardrobe and that the success of "Ziggy Stardust" which is probably (now that I've heard the Stones) the best album to come out this year, especially in terms of the way it has completely defined what we can expect from the '70sm, should not depend on how many patches it sells.

Still, buying and selling is part of our everyday reality and it has always surprised me that I can't lose weight at a Cass Elliot spa, have my hair cut at a Rod Stewart barber, learn tie dye at a John Sebastian school, and dry myself down with a Tom Jones towel.  I'm not kidding, if its good enough for Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, why not Ziggy Stardust, Ruby Tuesday, Eleanor Rigby and the rest of the gang?

---This page last modified: 13 Dec 2018---

Ziggy Stardust Scarf (1973)