28.1.16

OMNIBUS PRESS – A Personal Choice


At the close of play tomorrow I retire as Senior Editor at Omnibus Press, a job that I have held for 33 years, although I have been asked to stay on for another two years as a consultant to Omnibus and its parent company Music Sales. It was towards the end of 1983 that my predecessor Miles, aka Barry Miles, rang to ask whether I wanted his job. Yes please, I said, never imagining for one minute that I’d devote the rest of my working life to commissioning and editing rock books for Omnibus.
          Earlier this week my friend Dave Lewis, who knew about my impending retirement, asked me to compile (for his Led Zeppelin fanzine/website Tight But Loose) a list of what I considered to be the 25 ‘best’ books that I had worked on (out of around 800). So I did just that, and added an intro to explain the criteria in a few cases.
          The Omnibus Press logo below was designed in 1990 by Lisa Pettibone when she worked in our art department. A year later she became Mrs Charlesworth. I still love the way it looks like a vinyl album with a musical note in the middle, yet suggests the initials OP at the same time.





The top ten is roughly in order of preference, thereafter in no particular order. I have restricted the list to books that I have personally worked on, as opposed to books bought in from packagers or US publishers. In almost every case I saw the books through from an initial meeting with the authors to discuss an idea right through to checking the final proofs before it was printed. The only real exception is Pete Frame’s Rock Family Trees where I had little to do as Pete delivers his ‘Trees’ as finished artwork. The first two Family Trees books were published before I arrived at Omnibus then compiled into one ‘Complete’ edition, and Pete has produced a further three books during my watch.
          In the case of Neal Preston’s Led Zeppelin photo book, I worked closely with Neal – an old friend – on a complete revision of the original Vision On book (which he hated), and although the Floyd Mind Over Matter book was originally published by Sanctuary this latest (2015) edition involved a good deal of delicate negotiation with the Floyd’s management and Peter Curzon who took over the Storm Thorgerson Hipgnosis Archive after Storm’s death in 2013.
          The oldest title on the list is Uptight! which was commissioned by Miles as a book with integrated illustrations but later republished and revised as text only, overseen by me. The Syd Barrett book came to me around 1990 as a typed manuscript on 200 sheets of A4 paper that had been rejected by dozens of publishers who probably didn’t know who Syd was. It’s been one of our best sellers, as has the Ian Dury biography which was also rejected by many others until Ian announced he had incurable cancer. To the disgust of author Richard Balls many of those who’d initially rejected it promptly changed their minds when this became known but by that time I’d signed him up so he could tell them all to make love elsewhere. I am pleased to report that Macmillan Cancer Support, which receives a proportion of the royalties, has now benefitted by over £12,000 from the sales of Richard’s book. 
          In the case of Timothy White’s Bob Marley bio, I noticed that the original edition had gone out of print and chased Timothy for a revised edition for Omnibus, thus initiating what turned out to be a close and valued friendship that endured until his sad and unexpected death in 2002. A few weeks before, Tim had been in London to appoint a new bureau chief for Billboard, of which he was editor, and we met to discuss his writing a joint biography of George Harrison and Eric Clapton – Tim was especially friendly with George – which would have traced their intermingling lives, loves and music. Alas, it never happened but if it had I’m pretty sure it would have made the list.
          I was quite proud of Bowiestyle but, unfortunately, David didn’t like it because, unbeknownst to me, an ‘expert’ I had contracted to help caption the photographs added his name as a co-author at the last minute in the designer’s studio before it went to press. It turned out this guy had somehow displeased DB over something to do with a fan club that he had run. When DB saw his name on it he went apeshit and instructed someone in his office to go through the book with a fine tooth comb to see if it breached his copyright in any way and thus give him reason to serve an injunction on it. We used one photograph for which he owned the copyright and also included some lyrics, so rather than risk a damaging fall-out we took it off the market. I waited about ten years, then removed the caption writer’s name, the photograph and the lyrics and we republished it. There was no more hassle.
          Happily, most of these have turned out to be among our best sellers, especially Dear Boy, The Severed Alliance and Uptight!, each of which has now exceeded 75,000 sales over various editions. I have good reason to believe that very few political biographies reach this sales level and some bottom out at less than 10,000, so it’s nice to know that Moonie, the Smiths and the Velvets are far more popular several of our Prime Ministers, quite right too.

Dear Boy: The Life of Keith Moon by Tony Fletcher
Morrissey & Marr: The Severed Alliance by Johnny Rogan
Uptight!: The Velvet Underground Story by Victor Bockris & Gerard Malanga
Bright Lights & Dark Shadows: The Real Story of Abba by Carl Magnus Palm
George Harrison: Behind The Locked Door by Graeme Thomson
Pete Frame’s Rock Family Trees (various editions)
Looking Through You: Rare & Unseen Photographs from The Beatles Monthly Archive
Kraftwerk: Publikation by David Buckley
Had Me A Real Good Time: The Faces, Before, During & After by Andy Neill
The Who Concert File by Joe McMichael and ‘Irish’ Jack Lyons
Led Zeppelin Concert File by Dave Lewis
Crazy Diamond: Syd Barrett & The Dawn of Pink Floyd by Mike Watkinson & Pete Anderson
Bowiestyle by Mark Paytress
Under The Ivy: The Life & Music of Kate Bush by Graeme Thomson
Led Zeppelin: Photographs by Neal Preston
Torn Apart: The Life of Ian Curtis by Mick Middles & Lindsay Reade
Sex & Drugs & Rock’n’roll: The Life of Ian Dury by Richard Balls
Catch A Fire: The Life of Bob Marley by Timothy White
Mind Over Matter: The Images of Pink Floyd (2015 Edition) by Storm Thorgerson
Hey Ho Let’s Go: The Story of The Ramones by Everett True
Perfect Circle: The Story of R.E.M. by Tony Fletcher
The Rolling Stone Years by Baron Wolman
Godspeed: The Kurt Cobain Graphic by Barnaby Legg, Jim McCarthy & Flameboy
Mods: The New Religion by Paul Anderson
You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks by Nick Hasted



27.1.16

LED ZEPPELIN - Peter Grant Writes...

Clearing out some old files the other day I came across this letter from Peter Grant, the formidable manager of Led Zeppelin, who died in 1995. (If you click on it, it will become clearer.)



Out of courtesy and, as ever, reluctant to arouse his indignation, I had written to Peter at his retirement home in Eastbourne to inform him that Omnibus Press was soon to publish a book about Led Zeppelin by Dave Lewis, the publisher of the Zep fanzine Tight But Loose. With only the slightest hint of the menace that characterised his tenure as Zeppelin’s manager, it seems the cantankerous old gentleman had mellowed a bit by 1990. The book in question was called Led Zeppelin – A Celebration and was designed by Lisa Pettibone who not long afterwards became my wife.

22.1.16

ABBA REUNITE! - To open Björn's restaurant

After a fortnight in which I seem to have done little else on Just Backdated but react to the work of the grim reaper, it’s time for some light relief and who better for this than Abba? On another post here I comment on how since they went their own ways in the early eighties the four members of the group seem to have adopted a policy of never having their photograph taken together. Well, that changed on Wednesday night at the opening an Abba themed restaurant in Stockholm, as can be seen from the two photographs below.





Björn, Anni-Frid, Agnetha and Benny

This is the first time all four have been seen together as a group since the opening of the Mama Mia! movie in Stockholm on July 4, 2008, when it seemed they deliberately avoided being photographed as a foursome by standing at opposite ends of a group photo that also included members of the film’s cast. According to my Stockholm-based Abba expert friend Magnus Palm, however, Meryl Streep grabbed a private shot of them together on her mobile phone that night.
          The new dining-entertainment venue, at the Tyrol restaurant in Grona Lund, Stockholm, is based on the Greek taverna featured in the film of Mamma Mia!, and is backed by Björn Ulvaeus. I suspect that diners will be encouraged to sing along to Abba songs as they chomp on their vine leaves and moussaka swilled down with retsina, not a prospect that fills me with delight to be honest. Nevertheless, fans and guests paid 1,340 kronor (£110) for a ticket to Wednesday’s opening night where they could rub shoulders with the four members of a group whose dignity in declining serious money offers to reunite professionally reflects a level of integrity that a few others I could name would do well to respect.


20.1.16

THE EAGLES – Glen Frey & Don Henley Interview, December 1976, Part 2


Part 2 of my 1976 Melody Maker interview with Eagles Glenn Frey and Don Henley.


Neither Glenn Frey nor Don Henley expected their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 album to do as well as it did. “I never expected it to do five million,” said Frey with genuine disbelief. “The numbers this year are staggering, and I try not to look at them anymore. It’s a different kind of person that buys ‘Greatest Hits’ albums... people who buy them for gifts for children and not the kind who buy regular albums. I think you reach more people with them... you reach the over 25’s and the under 15’s a lot.”
          Henley seemed vaguely embarrassed by the success of the record. “Let us say that we aren’t really advocates of ‘Greatest Hits’ albums,” he said. “They are more or less a ploy by the record company to get free sales. They don’t have to spend any money to make them and they get a lot of money back. We got a couple of hate letters after the Greatest Hits album came out that said we were selling out... they said that us and Steve Miller were the last bands who were holding off selling out this way.
          “But we didn’t have anything to do with it. The record company put it out and we couldn’t stop them. We had a say in picking the tracks, sequencing them and doing the graphics.”
          “I must say,” said Frey, “that the eagles’ skull which appeared on the sleeve is not very good karma in terms of the American Indian. By putting this shiny Eagles’ skull on the album we felt like we knew where the ‘Greatest Hits’ thing was at.”
          “That was what we looked like after writing all those songs,” quipped Henley. “But another reason why I didn’t feel bad about putting a ‘Greatest Hits’ album out was that it definitely marked the end of a phase for us. It marked the end of five years, and this new album opens up a whole new era for us.
          “Ever since ‘Best Of My Love’ kicked off a whole big thing for us, moving us from the top 90 per cent of bands in America to the top 10 per cent, we’ve been running and I never had time to stop and think about how well the Greatest Hits record did. We just wanted to stay busy.”
          A pattern, coincidence perhaps, seems to be emerging with the release of Hotel California. The Eagles’ first album contained three hit singles – ‘Take It Easy’, ‘Witchy Woman’ and ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ – and was followed by a concept album Desperado; the One Of These Nights album contained three hit singles – the title track, ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ and ‘Take It To The Limit’ – and is followed by their second concept approach.
          “Like Desperado it didn’t necessarily start out to be a concept album but it became one after all,” said Henley. “It’s a more urbane version of Desperado inasmuch as the symbolism isn’t set in the past but is here and now.”
          “We had all those hit singles off One Of These Nights and that gives you more room to breathe and make an album more like the kind of album we really want to make,” said Frey. “We took some artistic liberties with the new record which we hadn’t taken before, and part of it was because we felt a slight ease of pressure because the last album had done so damn well.”
          “Hit singles are no crime,” said Henley. “Some people view them to be something that can’t be good artistically and that’s total nonsense as far as I’m concerned. Paul Simon has hit singles, Bob Dylan has hit singles, Neil Young has hit singles, and the Beatles had lots of hit singles.
          “The way the record business is structured these days... if you don’t have singles you can forget it. You can work for 10 years making eclectic and artistic underground albums and maybe you’ll get the recognition you deserve when you’re half-dead.
          “But even the FM stations here are playing singles just to stay in business. Admittedly there’s a lot of fucking rubbish in the singles charts. I won’t mention any names though we all know who they are, so I think AM needs a shot in the arm and I am glad that we can contribute something that I consider quality music to the AM airwaves. God knows... it needs something.
`“There’ll be some singles off the new album, but they’ll be long songs. None of the tracks is much under five minutes long, but we’re going to release a double-sided single of ‘New Kid In Town’ and ‘Victim Of Love’.”
          A Hammond organ makes its first appearance on an Eagles’ album in Hotel California, and Walsh was also brought in on various synthesizers, a talent which came as a bonus surprise to the rest of the band. Extra keyboard instruments are now accompanying the Eagles on the road.
          “We have to beef up the act to stay in there,” said Henley. “We don’t want to beef it up with flash and meaningless theatrics like funny clothes and flashlights, or smokebombs or any crap like that. The group has to keep growing musically on stage, even though we do have to keep playing old material.
          “When Joe arrived, the older songs began sounding different. I think we were tighter and less cluttered on stage. I can still sing ‘Witchy Woman’ as inspired as the first time I ever sang it because people want to hear it, and that’s enough for me. Sure I can get tired of it after I’ve been out on the road for three weeks, but each night seems to bring out a little more inspiration in any particular song.”
          “For me this summer it was Joe’s stuff that excited me,” said Frey. “It was good to know that after three more Eagles songs we were going to do one of Joe’s. And, of course, the new stuff is always more interesting. It was good to see if we could pull off ‘Hotel California’ and ‘Wasted Time’, to see if we could make them happen and make the audience dig new tunes.
          “I guess ‘Take It To The Limit’ as well. Randy (Meisner) gets a standing ovation whenever he hits the high notes, and sometimes the applause goes on for two or three minutes. In the last year and a half Randy has really found himself as a vocalist. ‘Take It To The Limit’ and ‘Too Many Hands’ were sung with so much brilliance on the record that he is a changed singer in the solo vocalist category. In the group he’s always been phenomenal,” said Frey.
          “Randy has always been the ribbon on our package. He provides all the bottom and the top, but we have to find the right song for his high voice and that usually means it must be in the ballad category. He delivers on such high intensity too... he even sounds a little like Gene Pitney.”
          “He’s kind of a quiet, shy guy with a family, and he’s also been doing it longer than we have,” said Henley. “He was in a band called the Poor out here in 1968 and then in Poco, and he doesn’t care about interviews and so forth. As far as he’s concerned he’ll just let Glenn and me shoot off our mouths and make fools of ourselves. He does his job and goes home to Nebraska when it’s done.”
          “We’ve come to learn that we are different people,” said Frey. “We learned through the experience of this group that you can’t try to change people to the way you want them to be. Randy is a very dedicated musician and when he goes home he gets to work on new ideas for the next album in a little studio he has built. Felder lives here in Malibu and he stays there in his own studio recording like a madman. These things are going on all the time in this group. We have been together almost non-stop for the past 11 months.”
          “And that’s much too much togetherness,” said Henley. “When we do get away we like to get away properly. We all have ladies and other friends, and this year we’ve neglected our relationships with other musicians like Jackson Browne, J. D. Souther, Linda Ronstadt and other people we would like to hang out with and write songs with a little more. In the next two or three months we’d like to re-open all those doors and think about our next album.
          “John David had a great deal to do with Hotel California, and had Jackson Browne not been in the studio making The Pretender, I’m sure that he would have been involved as well. J. D. helped us do ‘New Kid In Town’ and he helped us finish ‘Victim Of Love’ too.”
          “Bill Szymczyk (the band’s producer) was also very instrumental in helping us with the musical side of this album,” said Frey. “He’s always influenced us in the R&B direction and in the rock’n’roll side. I think that the recording technique that we developed and perfected by the time we got to One Of These Nights reached a conceptual peak here.”
          Although it appears that, as almost always, the band are writing about the state of California, Henley insists that it is just a microcosm for the rest of the country. “It’s the Bicentennial Year, and this is our Bicentennial statement,” he said. “It’s kind of about the demise of the sixties and the decadence and escapism we are experiencing in the seventies. It’s also about the kind of limbo we’re experiencing in the music business while we’re waiting for the next big surge of inspiration, like The Beatles or whatever.
          “It’s an attempt to shake people out of the apathy they are going through, and also a comment on the destruction of the air and the planet and the ecology. I thank California represents all that because it is the vanguard of America, the farthest place you can go.”
          “We’ve often been criticised by people on the East Coast for marketing the Southern California lifestyle... the beautiful girls, the houses in the hills, the footloose people and all that kind of thing, but I think people have spoken too soon on that. We think that this album represents the whole worlds, not just California, as something elegant which has been corrupted,” said Frey.
          “This used to be a beautiful place and it still is fairly attractive, but America used to be too before we came over here and fucked it up,” said Henley. “We have a love-hate relationship with California. Like anything you love, you’re capable of hating it, too. On this album we’re simply holding California up as an example. I wouldn’t live anywhere else, though. I wouldn’t run away, I’d rather stand here and fight. The song ‘Hollywood Waltz’ was about people who came here and corrupted it then moved on somewhere else, but we’re not doing that.
          “This place has given us all we’ve got because we became successful here and we’re proud of it, but people from the East Coast have really nailed us to the wall for something that they think we represent. I think it’s really a personal vendetta rather than a criticism of the music.”
          Current plans are for the Eagles to play two dates in December – shows they had to cancel earlier this year because of recording commitments – and then take three months off before a European tour in April. “There needs to be a period of input after all the output,” said Henley.
          “Then we’re going to Europe to play various countries we haven’t played before,” said Frey. “We’ve never played in Germany and never played in France so that needs to be done. We’re also planning to play in Scotland this time around. The only time we ever did that before was with Neil Young. The last time we went to London was really the only time I could enjoy it properly.
          “We work so much because it’s therapeutic,” he added. “Sometimes it’s easier to be the underdog. We have to keep changing our goals so much now. What we have to look for, what I’m doing to keep me going, is to try and get better each time. I try to make my singing a little better, and my music a little better. At this point it’s either grow or stagnate, and we won’t do that.”

19.1.16

THE EAGLES – Glen Frey Interview, December 1976

I was never a huge fan of the Eagles but in the seventies they were impossible to ignore, so on behalf of Melody Maker I conducted a couple of very lengthy interviews with the group, mostly with Glen Frey, who died yesterday, and Don Henley. The first, in April 1975, can be found under ‘Interviews’ on this blog. The second, in December 1976, took place – appropriately enough – at the renowned Beverly Hills Hotel where Frey and Henley had set themselves up in one of the bungalows in the hotel’s grounds to talk about Joe Walsh joining the group and their soon to be released album Hotel California
          This interview is quite long so I’ve divided it up into two parts, second instalment tomorrow.



What’s it like, I asked, being an Eagle? Glenn Frey, a perpetual talker, paused to consider the question and the silence lasted almost a minute.
          “Oh well... it’s not unlike anything I’ve done all my life. It’s not unlike being in any other band, but the world around me seems to change its perspective on me as much as I change my perspective on it. So what it is really... it’s a pain in the ass.”
          Frey and Don Henley collapsed into laughter.
          “What he means by that,” said Henley, attempting to introduce an element of seriousness into an interview that had already lasted well over an hour, “is that especially over the past year we have felt a tremendous amount of pressure. It’s almost harder once you get to the top of the mountain than it is climbing it. It’s hard to stay up there and maintain it.
          “I admire the Stones, no matter what I think about their music, because they’ve stuck there. I admire Paul Simon and the Who simply because they’ve stuck around and not burned themselves out. It’s hard because you lose a lot of friends along the way.”
          “Being an Eagle can be a handicap,” said Frey, “but only because of what other people tend to think. Your life is not your own any more but that’s a concession I’m willing to make.”
          “But we asked for it,” added Henley.

The Beverly Hills Hotel sits elegantly at the junction of Sunset Boulevard and Beverly Drive, its pink rococo walls almost camouflaged by the pale green palm trees that have been planted in endless rows along the grassy sidewalks of this most sumptuous Los Angelean suburb.
          Stories concerning the hotel are legendary, principally because it has, over the years, housed rich and famous guests whose behaviour has made Hollywood synonymous with decadence. Nonetheless it is a discreet establishment: if the bellhops know anything they keep their lips sealed and conversations in the Polo Room Bar are deflected by the walls that surround the choice booths.
          The hotel itself is probably not the one directly referred to by the Eagles in the title track of their new album Hotel California, though the ambience of the establishment is neatly reflected in the song’s lyrics. Either way it was the location chosen by Glenn Frey and Don Henley for one of their rare interviews last week.
          Frey and Henley, the two main vocalists in the group, are the perennial spokesmen for the band, whose music has consistently reflected the sound of California in the Seventies as much as the Beach Boys represented the Golden State in the Sixties. The other longest serving member of the band, Nebraskan bass player Randy Meisner, whose soaring falsetto graces such tracks as ‘Take It To The Limit’ is a shy, retiring man who rushes home to his wife and three children, whenever the group have a free moment.
          Which isn’t very often these days. Throughout 1976 the Eagles have toured the US almost constantly, finally consolidating their position as one of the top few (regularly working) bands in the country. Their year began on a shaky note with Bernie Leadon’s departure and the simultaneous arrival of Joe Walsh, a partnership that seemed, on paper, to be a curious mixture of rock and harmony. It’s worked, though, and the Eagles are now bigger than ever. Their Greatest Hits album has notched up sales in the region of five million copies and, at the same time, introduced the band to a whole new audience. Joe Walsh, who doubtless had a following of his own, has probably done the same thing.
          Work on Hotel California began in March and ended in October. The sessions were crammed into spare days when the band wasn’t playing live and, like all their albums, it reflects the cautious approach that they have towards all their albums. It seems, at times, as if all the individual words and notes, all the intricate little harmonies and all the little background guitar chops, are carefully considered before insertion. Sometimes the results are almost too good to be true, but usually they produce the best floating harmonies, effortlessly easy-going music, since the Everly Brothers.
          The new album is based loosely around a concept in that the State of California represents a hotel whose guests have somehow reached the end of the day; somewhat vaguely it’s supposed to chronicle the decaying morals of the seventies. Frey and Henley don’t enjoy explaining the meaning which is far less obvious than the western concept of Desperado, their second album.
          Musically it features more extremes: the lusher cuts are as mellow as the Eagles have ever been, even to the point where one track is reprised as an instrumental with only a string section playing, while the up-tempo material bounces along with a harshness that must have come from Joe Walsh. Surprisingly Walsh’s only composer credit is a slow song he wrote some time ago with Joe Vitale, one time, drummer in Walsh’s defunct Barnstorm band.
          “A lot of the music on this album came very easy to us,” said Frey, sipping coffee in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel last week. “We worked up three of the songs for the October tour that we played and found them easy to do on stage. We have been playing the title track, ‘Wasted Time’ and ‘New Kid In Town’ but it’s difficult to do new tunes on stage. If the people haven’t heard them on the radio then they just don’t pay that much attention. There has to be a repetition factor for some reason. When we start touring again in March the album will have been out two months or so and by that time we’ll be playing it all or most of it.”
          Although it’s been almost a year and a half since the group’s last studio album, One Of These Nights, they didn’t have the usual wealth of spare material that most bands accumulate. “We hardly ever do,” said Henley. “We can usually tell when we start a song that if we get past an eighth of the way into finishing it, it’ll be worth doing. If we don’t get that far then we know it won’t be worth finishing.
          “The ones that get finished wind up on the record. I know some people write a lot of tunes, pick the best and throw the rest away but with us they never reach that far. We do save ideas though, especially ballads. We also try to balance an album because we believe it’s a work of art and it should have contrast and continuity at the same time.”
          “The rock and roll on this album came from Felder,” said Frey, who always refers to the band’s second guitarist by his surname as if to differentiate between him and Henley. “Strangely enough Joe wrote a ballad, but me and Joe and Don here collaborated on one track together. I think Joe was saving his song because he knew something like his joining the Eagles was coming up.”
          The circumstances surrounding Walsh’s entry into the group seemed to be almost too convenient to be true. Walsh, as a solo artist, was and is managed by Irving Azoff, who has run the Eagles since he quit as an employee of the Geffin-Roberts management team who handled the affairs of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young at one time. When Bernie Leadon quit the group, Walsh was between bands so his baptism as an Eagle was a natural business move even if some sceptics doubted his musical adaptability.
          “We actually knew some time before he joined,” said Frey. “Even while Bernie was still in the band we had a feeling that he might be a part of us before long. We had an indication a year and a half before Bernie left that he was planning to leave – or at least he wasn’t going to stay with us for the duration. The duration as we saw it was a much longer period of time than he wanted it to be.
          “We had talked to Joe as early as the beginning of 1975 and his attitude was that... ’If it ever happens give me a call.’ He’d spent a lot of time in his solo ballpark, but he also knew what it was like to be in a band. So we more or less knew which way things were going to go and it was more or less a matter of time. Even as far back as the last time we were in England, which was that Elton John concert, we knew something was going to happen although we didn’t want to talk about it.”
          “We knew for two years that Bernie wasn’t happy with the road,” said Henley. “He’d been doing it longer than the rest of us. He’d been in the Burrito Brothers, remember, and his road map started five or six years before we began travelling at all.
          “Besides, Joe was getting tired of being the leader of a group and feeling that he just wanted to be in a group for a change. He was to be a participant rather than a chief who hired and fired people. Writing all the songs gets to be a big burden on any solo artist.”
          “There was never any question of trying anybody else,” said Frey. “We never made any other calls because there really wasn’t anybody else who could join our band, and we wanted to keep it a five-piece group instead of going back down to four again. We like the advantages of a five-piece band. When we got Felder it allowed me to just play rhythm guitar and still there were two guitar players, so we could have two lead guitars playing with each other, yet there is still a rhythm instrument playing with the bass and drums.”
          According to Henley, Walsh fitted into the band much easier than doubters suggested. “Most of the media suggested he wouldn’t fit because we were a mellower band than anything he’d done before, but I read every review of our last tour and they all said how he didn’t clutter or get in the way of our music and how well we played his music. On stage we did ‘Rocky Mountain Way’ and ‘Funk 49’ and ‘Turn To Stone’. He’s capable of playing the stuff we do and we’re capable of playing his music.
          “Sure he introduced some harder guitar playing even though he didn’t put it on this album in the way of songwriting, but I think he and Felder played some killer guitar for us all. To me it’s like Duane Allman and Eric Clapton together.”
          Frey agreed. “Those boys (Felder and Walsh) really get on well together which didn’t happen with Bernie and Felder.”
          “Bernie had bluegrass roots,” continued Henley. “He’d never really messed with rock and roll guitar, and he never really understood how to get that dirty rock and roll sound. He was just not schooled or programmed in that area. We also knew that Joe was so controlled that he could play the ballads with no problem at all and a lot of people doubted that. Also Felder can play the banjo and a mean mandolin so we didn’t lose anything in that area when Bernie left.”
          The Eagles’ last concert with Leadon was in the fall of 1975 in front of 55,000 fans at Anaheim Stadium in California. Ten days later the remaining four Eagles were rehearsing with Walsh for a tour of Australia and New Zealand and Japan. “We didn’t want any rumours to get around that Bernie had left and that was it for the Eagles,” said Frey. “We wanted it out quickly that Bernie had been replaced by Joe and the group were on their way to New Zealand. Even so there were rumours that Joe wasn’t staying with us and that the group was going to split up.
“Joe’s contract with ABC had expired and Irving Azoff was shopping around the labels to get him another solo deal. First there was talk of Columbia, then staying with ABC and he finally wound up with Asylum, but because he was shopping for a solo deal people construed it as meaning that he couldn’t have been interested in recording with the Eagles and that this was a short term thing. All that was bullshit.”
          “The band is his first priority,” said Henley. “I don’t think he cares if he ever makes another solo album.” According to Frey, American audiences were quick to accept the new-look Eagles. “I received one letter from someone who wanted the old Eagles,” he said. “He wanted those mellow Eagles.”
          “And that,” said Henley, “was before he’d even heard the show with Joe in it. It said something like... how can you let Joe Walsh fuck up your harmonies, but that was before they’d even given us a chance. I don’t know whether we ever wrote him back or not but we don’t need those kind of people anyway.
          “Joe’s own songs proved to be showstoppers in the set and that was a great change for me. In fact they saved me because we’ve been playing ‘Witchy Woman’ and that stuff since 1972, and to do new songs was like a shot in the arm for us. We can play that kind of material and always have been able to.”
          “We were kind of reticent to play that music unless we could make it sound great,” said Frey. “We didn’t want to make a limp-wristed attempt because we didn’t have the right kind of guitar players before. We’ve been working on getting the right guitar line-up for the last three years and now we feel we’ve got it.”
          “We’re not about to change direction, though,” said Henley. “We’ll be keeping the best of the old style and not abandoning country rock or whatever you like to call it. We just want to stretch things out a little bit. On this album we get into r and b a little bit, which was something that we began on On The Border and developed further on One Of These Nights.
          “But on the tour there was a whole load of kids who were yelling for Joe and I think there was probably a whole load of them who’d never heard his material either. It was like new songs for them.”
          Leadon, meanwhile, has had an easy year, though he does have plans to record a solo album in the New Year. Glyn Johns, who produced the first two Eagles’ albums, will be producing the record in a studio that Leadon has built in his home. “We always knew that he wouldn’t just retire completely,” said Henley. “He just wanted to do things at his own pace while we were caught up in a momentum and had to take it to the limit, if you’ll pardon the expression.”

Part 2 tomorrow, with Glen and Don talking about the massive success of their Greatest Hits album, the ‘concept’ behind Hotel California and their Los Angeles singer-songwriter buddies.  


15.1.16

DAVID BOWIE 1947-2016 : AN APPRECIATION

Omnibus Press, of which I am senior editor, is part of Music Sales, Europe’s largest publisher of printed sheet music. From time to time I am called upon to contribute to this division of the company and within 24 hours of the death of David Bowie I was asked to write a tribute to his life and work that will appear in a soon-to-be-published memorial songbook.
          What I wrote on Just Backdated four days ago was done on the spur of the moment, my thoughts about the day after Bowie’s sad death. What follows is more considered and, in truth, I was delighted to be asked to write it. I hope I have done Bowie justice.






DAVID BOWIE
1947-2016

“I pour out what has already been fed in. I merely reflect what is going on around me.”
– David Bowie, July 1973.


David Bowie was the most charismatic popular musician of his generation, a cultural polymath and style icon whose artistic breadth also took in theatre, film, video, fashion, mime, fine art criticism and prose writing. Though hugely admired by vast numbers of fans throughout the world, he often seemed uncomfortable with mainstream recognition and throughout his long career made a habit of stepping back to experiment with genres of music and cultural expression unlikely to find commercial acceptance. By refusing to rest on his laurels and – apart from a misstep in the eighties when he courted the mass market to excess – recording a series of peerless albums at various times in his life, he maintained a consistent level of critical acclaim enjoyed by very few of his contemporaries.
Born David Robert Jones in Brixton in 1947, Bowie paid his dues in a number of groups and guises until his breakthrough in 1969 with the hit single ‘Space Oddity’, perfectly timed to coincide with the American moon landing that same year. The song’s theme of alienation and impending doom would be a recurrent motif of Bowie’s work, alongside a sense of otherworldliness on the part of its creator, as if David Bowie really was from another world, an alien being on a higher astral plane than mere mortals, someone who simply knew more than the rest of us.
The new decade brought a change in his business affairs with Bowie, perhaps frustrated by his lack of progress after two early albums, abandoning his dependable but old school manager Kenneth Pitt in favour of the more flamboyant but slightly Machiavellian Tony De Fries. Together they founded a company called Mainman and staffed it with colourful characters whose loyalty to David was never in doubt but whose spending habits would later come back to haunt him. De Fries encouraged his new client to act like a star before he actually was one, thus creating an illusion around Bowie that he was happy to go along with so long as it advanced his career. It turned out to be a Faustian pact but for the time being everyone was delighted with the new arrangement and, if nothing else, the Mainman crew certainly enlivened the London rock scene.
 Nevertheless, Bowie’s rise to stardom was not immediate. Though acclaimed by critics, his 1971 albums The Man The Who Sold The World, the cover of which saw him in a ‘man’s dress’, and Hunky Dory sold respectably if not spectacularly. An instinctive rather than virtuoso musician, Bowie played saxophone, guitar and keyboards but his greatest skill was in composition and finding the right collaborators to help realise his vision. During the making of these records he recruited a key early ally in guitarist Mick Ronson who joined his stage group shortly before Bowie renamed them The Spiders From Mars, its leader now restyled as Ziggy Stardust, the ensemble designed to perform his 1972 album named after themselves. This saw lift-off with Bowie as Ziggy, presenting himself in concert as an androgynous being, his spikey hair carrot red, his clothes more and more colourful, outré and revealing, his whole demeanour screaming ‘star’ from the highest pinnacle. 
Ushering in glam rock but always maintaining a rather aloof presence above the genre’s less cerebral acts like Slade, Sweet and his friend Marc Bolan’s T. Rex, Bowie’s elaborate costumes were all part of the same package, in hindsight a work of art in itself. Consciously or not, everything he did from that point onwards became part of his art and his life as an artist. Amongst his greatest achievements, therefore, was what he saw when he looked at himself in the mirror.
Crucially, he represented the outsider, positioning himself on the side of those ill-suited for conventional society. His lyrics, often elliptical, spoke to misfits and loners, the timid and the disconnected, enabling them to cast off inhibitions and paving the way for a less macho style of rock performer and performance. A skilled interviewee, he was quick to realise that absolute truth was of less significance that the effect his words might carry. When he did speak to the press he usually made headlines, not least in January 1972 when he announced, without foundation[1], that he was gay or, at the very least, bisexual[2]. Similarly, on a musical level he positioned himself outside the tried and tested blues rock formula typified by The Rolling Stones or more supercharged contemporaries like Led Zeppelin, his chief rival during the seventies. While songs such as ‘The Jean Genie’, ‘Suffragette City’ and ‘Rebel Rebel’ certainly rocked with the best of glam’s full-tilt explosions, others, like ‘Changes’, ‘Life On Mars’ and ‘Starman’, reflected a more ethereal quality, the latter borrowing Harold Arlen’s octave climb from ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ to startling effect. ‘Ziggy Stardust’ itself, of course, was assumed to be autobiographical.
By the end of 1972 Bowie was the biggest solo rock star in the UK, not to mention the most visually striking and controversial, and though America’s ingrained conservatism resisted him at first, the US fell the following year. He even found time to revive the careers of Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Mott The Hoople. Aladdin Sane (1973) attracted advance orders of 100,000 in the UK and was in many ways Ziggy Part II, another huge success, its striking cover of Bowie as Ziggy with a blue thunderbolt etched across his face solidifying his surreal image. Then, just as it seemed as if Bowie would eclipse all before him, he abandoned Ziggy completely, memorably making the announcement from the stage at Hammersmith Odeon, shocking fans and, so word had it, even his own group, and returned to the drawing board. It would not be the first time that Bowie would abruptly change tack, a career strategy that he maintained until the very end.
The patchy covers album Pin Ups (1973) was a holding manoeuvre but with Diamond Dogs (1974), and perhaps more importantly its concurrent stage show, Bowie invented rock theatre, a style of presentation that paid no lip service whatsoever to conventional rock concerts and instead relied purely on dramatic effect and elaborate stage props. The following year he discovered blue-eyed soul with Young Americans, its funked-up US No. 1 hit single ‘Fame’ a collaboration with John Lennon that savaged his relationship with manager Tony De Fries. He then stepped back from music to appear in Nicolas Roeg’s sci-fi film The Man Who Who Fell To Earth. It was astute casting, Bowie’s starring role as an extra-terrestrial sent to earth to save his own planet serving only to ramp up the impression of Bowie as a creature from beyond the stratosphere.
Bowie was on a roll though by his own volition it wasn’t to last. Station To Station (1976), which merged black funk with the emerging European electronic school, is widely regarded as his best album ever, as timeless as it is flawless; yet, after a thrillingly successful world arena tour, it would presage Bowie’s second retreat from the commercial sphere. Destabilized by a financially calamitous fall out with De Fries – henceforth he would largely manage his own business affairs in tandem with lawyers and personal assistant Corinne Coco Schwab – and an enervating cocaine habit, he wisely relocated to Berlin to work with producer/auteur Brian Eno on a trilogy of introverted experimental albums, thus not only avoiding the need to compete with punk rock but setting himself up as a genuine innovator. Although many tracks on these now highly acclaimed records were instrumental in character and perversely uncommercial, the Berlin period produced the stirring majesty of ‘Heroes’, a meditation on the futility of the Berlin Wall that is arguably the finest song he ever wrote and certainly the most popular.
After emerging from his German retreat for another arena tour, Scary Monsters (1980) saw Bowie move to more conventional ground, its most affecting track ‘Ashes To Ashes’ a revision of the Major Tom saga from ‘Space Oddity’. By this time videos – short films to promote singles – had arrived and few benefited more from this development than Bowie whose acting experience gave him the jump on less imaginative fellow travellers. The video for ‘Ashes To Ashes’, with Bowie in Pierrot costume, not only lit the touch paper beneath the New Romantic movement but ushered in an era when he consistently led the field in this new art form. As if to prove the point, his next move, again unexpected, was to appear on stage – bravely and with distinction – in Chicago and on Broadway in New York as the severely deformed John Merrick in The Elephant Man, a role that required him to contort his frame throughout the play’s duration.
A switch of record labels then saw Bowie pocket a reputed $17 million advance and move back into the musical mainstream, this time on his own terms. With EMI’s promotional muscle behind him, Let’s Dance (1983), produced by Nile Rodgers, became his best-selling album ever, its funk-driven title track a big hit with an even bigger hook. He was looking different now too, more mature and smartly turned out in stylish pastel suits, business-like yet as attractive as ever, his neatly coiffured blonde hair and easy smile as appealing as the sheen of Let’s Dance tracks like ‘Modern Love’ and ‘China Girl’. The Serious Moonlight tour that followed saw Bowie ever more accomplished on stage, his gift for presentation now executed with effortless panache, a crowd-pleasing spectacle of light, sound, movement and mime, all to accompany a catalogue of wonderful songs played by top class musicians led by guitarist Carlos Alomar. It was this vision of Bowie that in 1985 seduced a worldwide audience of millions at Live Aid, his four-song set during Bob Geldof’s all-star charity extravaganza a highlight of the event and a triumph of mass communication.
The momentum, however, was not to last. Tonight (1984) failed to match the sparkle of Let’s Dance, presaging an artistic decline that lasted for almost a decade, exacerbated by the disappointing Never Let Me Down (1987) which in the fullness of time Bowie himself would resoundingly disparage. The global success of the new ‘normal’ Bowie, and the less-than-radical musical soundtrack that accompanied this new model, proved to be his undoing. In distancing himself from the cutting edge, he fell between two stools, alienating both the new and less critical post-Let’s Dance audience that recoiled at his theatricality while at the same time disaffecting the more discerning long-term fans who were drawn to his visionary zeal. Matters weren’t helped by contractual obligations to a hungry new record label.
Bowie’s solution to this dilemma was to form a group, Tin Machine, in which he would claim to be ‘just another member’, an optimistic prospect to say the least. If nothing else the two heavy handed Tin Machine albums in 1989 and 1991 and subsequent live recording a year later moved Bowie away from the spotlight to lick his wounds. His commercial stock was now at its lowest point since before the Ziggy era but he surprised the world again, not with music but by marrying the Somalian model Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid[3]. Iman clearly inspired the romanticism of Black Tie White Noise (1993) and seemed to finally settle Bowie’s restless spirit and curb his occasional lapses into hedonism.
Thereafter Bowie’s muse would fluctuate across a series of thoughtful, occasionally acclaimed albums that were never quite as illustrious as those that preceded them but at the same time restored his reputation and sustained it for two further decades. There were tours in which he was never less than immaculately turned out, with favourite songs from the past judiciously blended with newer material and, like many of his peers, he made announcements to the effect that he would no longer play the hits, only to renege on the pledge a year or two later. How could he not perform songs that had become touchstones in so many lives? Some of these later records, Earthling (1997) in particular, were on the experimental side while others, notably hours… (1999) and the enjoyable Heathen (2002), were designed for mass consumption, as was the less successful Reality (2003). 
To promote Reality Bowie undertook a huge world tour that stretched from 2003 into 2004 but in June of ’04 was abruptly cancelled when he suffered heart problems at Scheeßel in Germany. It is understood that he underwent a heart bypass operation. After surgery, Bowie returned to New York, his home for the past decade and where he would continue to live in relative seclusion for the remainder of his life.
From that point on the public was told very little about what was happening in the world of David Bowie. He stopped giving interviews around 2006 and his official website remained silent for extended periods. It was reported that he had declined a knighthood. Although he made occasional guest appearances, notably with Arcade Fire, he was entering a long period of privacy during which rumours about his failing health – he’d been a heavy smoker for most of his life – proliferated. In the words of the noted music critic Charles Shaar Murray, we no longer knew who David Bowie was any more, even if we ever did.
Since presentation was so crucial to Bowie’s craft it is safe to assume that the reason the world henceforth saw so little of him was because he could no longer present himself on stage or elsewhere in the manner he would prefer. Bowie would no sooner appear as a shadow of his former self than reassume the character of Ziggy Stardust so, rather than appear as someone who no longer resembled the David Bowie that was universally adored, he chose not to appear at all. Age, it seemed, was the great leveller, even for David Bowie. Nevertheless, his absence created a vacuum in which his star continued to shine brightly: the exhibition of his stage outfits and other memorabilia at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum in 2013 attracted record crowds and would tour the world.
That same year Bowie’s silence was broken dramatically with the unexpected release of The Next Day which took fans and everyone else completely by surprise. In what in hindsight can be seen as another superb piece of media manipulation, as impressive as any in his entire career, its unheralded arrival was a front-page news story in itself, Bowie deriving more publicity by doing absolutely nothing than top flight acts receive from the massive advance promotion that is the norm in the 21st Century. A reflective, carefully crafted work, The Next Day won Bowie the Best British Male Solo Artist at the 2014 Brit Awards. The model Kate Moss, wearing one of Bowie’s original Ziggy costumes, picked up the award on his behalf while an enlarged 1973 photo of the real thing, in the identical costume, looked on beautifically.
Two years later, on January 8, his 69th birthday, came the elegiac, brooding Blackstar, a recording which in hindsight seems to have been deliberately designed as a requiem. With lyrics that vaguely referenced his rapidly approaching demise, it will remain a moving, emotional epitaph, intentional in design, a unique and strangely appropriate climax to an extraordinary life.
David Bowie passed away from cancer of the liver two days later. He’d evidently been diagnosed 18 months earlier and only a tight circle of family and friends knew the extent of his illness. Remarkably, it remained a close secret, so the announcement came as a profound shock to the world and inspired tributes from the high and mighty, fellow musicians and – most notably – multitudes of fans for whom David Bowie represented much more than simply a great rock star but an ideal, a way of life, an incentive to live as you choose and not be cowed by convention. Within hours of the news, these fans, many of them with thunderbolts painted on their faces, gathered in their thousands to sing his songs at locations associated with Bowie’s life and career where hastily erected shrines spoke far more about his impact on this world than any of the clichés uttered by the great and the good.
In the second decade of the 21st Century, when performers from rock and roll’s pioneering era seem to pass away with the inevitability of the changing seasons, the loss of David Bowie can be compared only to the deaths of Elvis Presley and John Lennon. “I am not a rock star,” he would repeatedly tell journalists. He was right. He was much more than that; untouchable, perhaps comparable to stars in the old Hollywood sense of the term, perhaps in his daring and ambition beyond compare, shining as brightly as any star on a cloudless night, truly one of the brightest we shall ever see. He’s up there now, looking down on us, and maybe, if you glance skywards and catch a comet flashing across the heavens, you might see David Bowie riding its fiery slipstream, laughing, singing and waving bye-bye, the prettiest pop star of them all. “If we sparkle he might land tonight…”



[1] In May of 1971 his wife Angela, nee Barnett, a Cypriot American model and fashion designer, produced their son whom they named Zowie. In the fullness of time he would alter his name to Duncan Jones. Angie and Bowie separated in the mid-seventies and were divorced in 1980.
[2] True or not, in the opinion of my friend Michael Watts, who conducted the interview for Melody Maker, this statement “changed the lifestyles of a generation and kick-started the LGBT movement”.
[3] Iman gave birth to their daughter, Alexandria Zahra Jones, known as Lexi, on 15 August, 2000.

11.1.16

DAVID BOWIE - BLACK MONDAY



The phone rang at 7.15 this morning, unusually early. I was just about to feed the dog. It was Paul, a local friend and writer of historical romances, telling me that BBC Radio Surrey had been on to him to ask if he knew how to get in touch with me. “Why?” I asked. “David Bowie is dead,” he replied.
         It took a moment to sink in and, truth be told, I thought he was saying something about his new record Blackstar, which I’d bought the previous day.
         “I know,” I said. Then I checked myself. “Dead? That can’t be.”
         “It is, and they want you to call them.”
         “James Cannon?”
         “Yes.”
         I’d met James fairly recently. He and Suzanne Bamborough present the 6am to 9am show on BBC Radio Surrey & Hampshire. I’d talked to him on air about John Lennon a few weeks ago.
         So I called James, and began to talk. I fact, I didn’t stop talking about David Bowie until 4 pm in the afternoon about eight hours later, aside from the time spent on the train to London when I tried to gather my thoughts, listening to a playlist of Bowie music that took me no time at all to compile as the train left Guildford station. By then my voice had been heard on BBC Breakfast TV over a series of still photographs. This was at 8.20 and I was still in a state of shock, trying hard to be articulate and not clichéd. Then, in London, I spoke to a score or more of BBC regional radio stations, firstly from my office and later from New Broadcasting House. I also did a few newspaper interviews and sent them the photo of David and I with Ava Cherry that can be found elsewhere on Just Backdated.
         “David Bowie was the most charismatic rock performer of his generation, a cultural polymath in every sense of the word,” I told everyone who was listening, or words to that effect. “Although best known for his music, he was a talented actor of both stage and screen, a mime, a writer, a painter and a fashion icon. He managed to bring together all these talents into a whole, creating ‘David Bowie’ as an artwork in itself, so that almost everything he did, consciously or not, became part of his work and his life as an artist. He was also beautiful to look at, so his greatest creation was actually ‘David Bowie’, an adjunct to his real self, to David Jones, born in Brixton 69 years ago. You have to separate the two, and although I knew only the David Bowie that he presented to me, that man was personally magnetic, charming, well-mannered, well-spoken, polite, very well read and, as an interviewee, simply terrific because he knew better than anyone how to manipulate the media to his advantage. Look at how, when he released The Next Dayin 2013, there was no publicity whatsoever – until it arrived. That was a superb piece of media manipulation, as great as any in the history of rock, and a news story in itself. In an era of mass communication and ever expanding hype, he got more publicity by doing nothing than all the advance promotion that someone like, say, Adele got with her recent album. He was a genius in this regard. The release of this new album just two days before he left us was his final, ultimate ‘David Bowie’ gesture. He kept us guessing right to the very end.
         “Presentation was his strongest point, crucial to his craft,” I continued, without being prompted, “and I believe that the reason why we have seen so little of him in recent years is because he realised that he could no longer present himself on stage in the manner he would choose. He didn’t want to appear as a shadow of his former self so rather than appear as someone who no longer resembled the David Bowie that was adored, he chose not to appear at all. I applaud him for this and it is a lesson that other rock stars would do well to heed.
         “He was the Hollywood rock star, as untouchable as the great movie stars of the thirties and forties, magnificent, superhuman. That is how he will be remembered.”
         This was the line I reiterated all day, over the phone to presenters up and down the country. After about five or six interviews it became strangely pat, like a mantra, and although I veered off line a bit with some personal reminiscences from my years on Melody Maker and working at RCA in the late seventies, it seemed to satisfy everyone.
         This hectic activity lasted from the moment I got up until 4 pm. I didn’t hesitate to consider whether talking about David was good thing to do or consider the integrity of what I was doing. I was a professional journalist, after all, and the media was my chosen path. It was my job, like it or not. I didn’t have a chance to think really, to sit back and let the news soak in. David Bowie was dead.

There was another, slightly surreal element to all this. Yesterday afternoon I bought Blackstar at Sainsbury’s, along with the week’s shopping. I played it in the car as I drove home, on the CD player in our living room as I read the paper and, having downloaded it on to my iPod, on the docking speaker as Lisa and I had our evening meal. We talked about it too, atmospheric I thought, not particular commercial, some lovely melodic moments, a bit jazzy if you consider a honking saxophone ‘jazz’, definitely the kind of album that will grow on me. It was my intention to listen to it more closely, on earphones so I could hear the lyrics, and do a review on this blog in a day or two’s time. I did catch something in the title track about a single candle, a bit elegiac I thought, but I hadn’t heard enough of the lyrics, some of which I’ve now read more closely, to deduce that it was a farewell letter.
         After we’d listened to it a couple of time I decided to stick with Bowie for the time being and played his achingly lovely version of Paul Simon’s ‘America’ from the Concert For New York City in 2001. He followed this with ‘Heroes’, of course, my favourite Bowie song, though ‘Starman’ runs it a close second. We listened to that too, enjoying it as ever. And then we did the washing up and watched War And Peace on TV. Apart from a bit of Talking Heads in the morning over breakfast I had listened to David Bowie all day. I didn’t know that David Bowie was dead.

As related elsewhere on Just Backdated I made the acquaintance of Bowie during my time on Melody Maker and, later, as PR for RCA Records in 1979 and ’80, during which period he released Lodger and Scary Monsters. I was at the 1973 concert at Hammersmith Odeon where he disbanded the Spiders – another flamboyant PR stunt – and also in Detroit with him during the Thin White Duke tour in March 1976 when I may have been sitting close to Madonna who has spoken about this as the first rock show she ever attended. She’d have been 17 at the time and probably took notes. In the interview I did with David on the afternoon of the show he told me he was broke, another great PR move, as I relate here: http://justbackdated.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/david-bowie-detroit-march-1975.html
I wrote about my experiences as his PR mixed up with a bit of Detroit and his stage role as The Elephant Man here:http://justbackdated.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/bowie-media-part-1.html
I was lucky enough to see his Diamond Dogs Review on Toronto in 1974, and my report for Melody Maker can be found here:http://justbackdated.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/david-bowie-birth-of-rock-theatre.html


Tomorrow's papers will be full of tributes, musical analysis and detailed obituaries, so there's little point me adding to them here. Sufficient to say that my daughter, who will turn 24 in a week’s time, called home during the day and told Lisa that she considers herself lucky to have been alive at the same time as David Bowie. Me too. Indeed, I consider myself immensely lucky to have had this brief acquaintanceship with David Bowie during the seventies. RIP David.