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David Bowie 1947-2016. My Memories. January 12, 2016

Posted by Richard Foote in Oracle Indexes.
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In mid-April 1979, as a nerdy 13 year old, I sat in my bedroom in Sale, North England listening to the radio when a song called “Boys Keep Swinging” came on by an singer called David Bowie who I never heard of before. I instantly loved it and taped it next time it came on the radio via my cheap radio-cassette recorder. A few weeks later I saw David Bowie for the first time on TV performing this song on the Kenny Everett Video Show and from that moment on I was hooked. His performance was not only funny, but the song rocked and Bowie had a swagger that I just thought was instantly cool. OK, I can never be as cool as Bowie but perhaps I can be cool just by being a fan of Bowie.

I had little money but saved my pennies and eventually bought the “Best of Bowie” K-tel album on cassette (which I still have) to check out his previous work and just couldn’t believe that I loved each and every track. Space Oddity, Life on Mars, Jean Genie, Sound and Vision, “Heroes”, etc. etc. How can one person have so many great songs ?? So began the thrilling journey during the following years of slowly buying his back catalogue, album by album. Hunky Dory, “Heroes”, Diamond Dogs, his first “David Bowie” album, each and every one of them brilliant and I can still remember that feeling of sitting in my bedroom or in the family room back in Sale, listening to each of them for the first time.

In 1980, Bowie released “Scary Monsters and Super Creeps”, his first album release while a Bowie fan. It was stunning and watching the “Ashes to Ashes” video for the first time was an amazing experience. It felt more like a movie than a music video. I was excited that the single made No 1 in the UK charts, a bit like my football team winning a match.

In 1981, my parents bought a record player and the first album I bought on record (previously they had all been on cassette) was “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars”. I remember mum being cranky for playing it so loud but I said I had to, look, it says so on the back cover: “To be played at maximum volume”.

That year , I got my first book on David Bowie for my birthday “David Bowie: An Illustrated Record” by Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray. I treasure it still, even though I now have over 70 books on Bowie. Yes, I love music and I love to read.

In 1982, we moved to Canberra Australia but my Bowie odyssey continued. The first album I bought soon after our move was Station to Station. What an album. That first Aussie Christmas, I got the “really” expensive “David Live” double-album and just played it to death. What a great time.

In 1983, Bowie toured Australia during the huge “Let’s Dance” world tour and my parents bought me a ticket and bus ride to see him live in Sydney. I couldn’t sleep the night before and after getting to the Sydney Show Grounds nice and early, managed to get myself to the second front row. I spent hours in eager excitement, reading through the program (they were like mini books in those days) and then the moment when I saw him live for the first time. I was THAT close to him and I know he looked at me several times during the show.

As the years passed, I finally bought all his albums and started making enough money that I didn’t have to sell some books or whatever in order to afford the latest magazine that featured Bowie on the cover. Having some money came particularly useful as his music got re-released on CD format !!

1987, Bowie toured Australia again, this time as part of the “Glass Spiders” world tour. I had my first full-time job but no leave. Tricky, especially as Bowie was playing 8 shows at the Sydney Entertainment Arena.  So I bought 2 tickets to each show and spent one of the most wonderful weeks of my life going to work, leaving at around 4pm, driving to Sydney with someone different at most shows and then driving home afterwards to be in bed by 2am to do it all again the next day. Yes, I’m a fully fledged David Bowie fan and yes I loved each and every show🙂

While many people stopped following Bowie after his Tin Machine period (which I of course loved), I continue to follow his career keenly and just couldn’t wait to buy his latest album, be it “Black Tie White Noise”, “The Buddha of Suburbia” and one of my all-time favorites, “Outside”. The great albums continued on into the 2000’s when he joined forces again with the great Tony Visconti as record producer.

And so came February 2004 and Bowie’s last tour of Australia during his “Reality” world tour. This time I went to both of his concerts again at the Sydney Entertainment arena, now some 17 years since he last toured. He looked and sounded great and it was fantastic to have my wife with me this time to share the experience. I remember as he walked off after the final show I had a deep and sad feeling that I would never see him live again …

A few months later, he had a heart attack while on stage and the tour finished prematurely. Except for the odd single and public appearance he was rarely seen, before he finally disappeared from the scene in 2006. I continued to play and love his music but with rumours that he wasn’t well health wise, I really thought he had finally retired from making music. Or so it seemed.

While on holiday in Hawaii in January 2013, my son said “Hey Dad, Bowie’s releasing a new single”. I thought it was a joke but to my utter amazement and sheer joy, not only had he just released a new single “Where Are We Now?”, but also a new album “The Next Day”. Not only was Bowie back, but the album was just as good as anything he’s done. What a come back.

Last week on Friday (was it really just a few days ago !!), Bowie released his new album, Blackstar and again, I couldn’t contain my excitement. The Blackstar single and video were both stunning as was the follow-up single Lazarus. But I was a touch worried. He looked frail and thinner than he’d been for a while. But hey, this is Bowie, the Thin White Duke, he often looks thin and frail.

On Sunday night I had a dream about Bowie (not surprisingly really as his new songs were going through me mind), but I dreamt he had died (seriously). I was sooooo relived it was just a silly dream. But on Monday at 6pm, as I was leaving work in the car and the ABC news came on the radio, I was shocked, stunned, shattered to hear that David Bowie had indeed suddenly passed away. I just burst into tears in the car park (thankfully it was late and nobody was around) and then my wife rang and then messages from friends and colleagues come pouring in and so life post David Bowie began.

It’s funny how so many people have said to me how I was the first person they thought of after they heard the news David Bowie had passed away. Some people contacted me who I haven’t spoken to in years (and thank you, it really means a lot). I guess I wasn’t a closet fan. But that’s because David Bowie for the past 37 odd years has been a very real, important part of my life, one of my best ever friends even though I never actually (quite) met him in person. But I knew him like a best friend through his music and the incredible cultural influence he’s had on my life and those of so many many others. Hey, we were even both born in South London.

While it’s deeply sad that I’ll never again enjoy that new David Bowie album into the future, how lucky am I to have lived at the same time as the great genius that is/was David Bowie. And though he’s now gone, his music, legacy and wonderful memories will live on with me for the rest of my life. He was indeed the soundtrack of my life. The Starman is finally up among the stars.

Thank you David Bowie. RIP.

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Comments»

1. Sridhar Subramaniam - January 12, 2016

Commiserations Richard. You were indeed a very true fan of his. We all do have our idols but following them the way you did was indeed something else……

RIP David Bowie

Richard Foote - January 15, 2016

Thanks Sridhar🙂

2. Ajit - January 12, 2016

I first read the name Bowie in your blogs. You were naming so many tables,indexes Bowie. and then I came to know this was the same man who adorned your profile and that this was the man who sang “Cat People”. I remember hearing this stunning song so long ago when I was a kid.

when I heard the news I remembered you.

He was one of a kind.

“And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations”

Richard Foote - January 15, 2016

Thanks Ajit

Yes, Cat People is a great song, especially the original version he did with Giorgio Moroder🙂

3. Peter Moore - January 12, 2016

That’s the best tribute of all the dozens I’ve read in the past 24 hours. Nicely written and heartfelt. Sums up how I feel. Thank you, Richard.

Richard Foote - January 15, 2016

Thanks Peter, I really appreciate that🙂

4. John Hallas - January 13, 2016

Excellent summary and memories. My first album was Ziggy Stardust. Driving home last night the first 10 minutes of the BBC Radio 4 5 o’clock news was about Bowie and I felt quite emotional listening to it.
One thing that comes across in all the obituaries is that he marched to the sound of his own drum and constantly change direction.
I found this article on BBC – 69 facts about David Bowie very illuminating http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-20944291

Richard Foote - January 15, 2016

Thanks John. He certainly had a very rich and interesting life. He chased fame and commercial success for nearly 10 years and when you found it, didn’t like it too much and wasn’t afraid to lose it again. When he needed to financially make a hit album, he did so with Let’s Dance and then again spent much time trying to reverse things back to the edginess he was more comfortable in. He feared most being boring which he rarely ever was.

5. Marcelle Kratochvil - January 13, 2016

Nicely said Richard and heartfelt. I have been a good fan of Bowie since the 80s (it was his androgynous period that won me), never to the intensity you have, but it was good to see you have such passion and honesty, especially when you trained and presented. Am sure that will continue.

Richard Foote - January 15, 2016

Thanks Marcelle. A part of Bowie will always be there in any presentation I do🙂

6. Carol S - January 19, 2016

I fully understand your pain. Bowie entered my life in 1969, I was 18, and he never left until last week. He was a soundtrack that played through the tapestry that is my life. R.I.P. Starman and shine down brightly on us. It’s wonderful they gave him is own constellation🙂.

Far out in the red-sky
Far out from the sad eyes
Strange, mad celebration
So softly a supergod cries

Far out in the red-sky
Far out from the sad eyes
Strange, mad celebration
So softly a supergod dies

Richard Foote - January 21, 2016

Hi Carol

Thanks for sharing. Wow, at least how lucky are you to have experienced Bowie throughout his “Golden Years”. It’s been a very sad time.

BTW, love The Supermen and the whole Man Who Sold The World album. It’s in my top 10 I think.

7. Robert Klemme - February 4, 2016

I am late to the party – as so often. Richard, thank you for sharing your life with David Bowie with us! I notice I am a few months younger than you are so I share some of your experiences (K-Tel! Cassettes! Recording from the radio! Playing music loud – without earphones!) even though I grew up – and still live – in Germany. I never managed to be a fan of anything or anybody the wonderful way you were and that made Bowie a part of your life, so I adore your dedication.

I am not sure what the first time was that I got aware of David Bowie. I think it may have been as late as ’81 when “Under Pressure” was everywhere. That is really powerful and dramatic! I loved it and still think it’s a great song. Of course this is no surprise to you, but looking at his discography [1] I am really surprised how many great songs he released.

I can provide some additional fact that is remotely related to David Bowie and which you might not be aware of: near the city where I grew up there was a concert location and discotheque called “Hunky Dory Music Hall” in the small city Detmold. (You can still find traces of it on the web [2]). I discovered it pretty late and watched a show of “Uriah Heep” somewhere in the 90; “Nazareth” was supporting act and they were awful. But UH did pretty well despite some exchanged members of the band.

Now I like to imagine that David and Douglas (Adams, of course) are sitting somewhere up there and having lots of fun chatting about us poor buggers who did not make it there yet – and maybe even creating some new and fantastic novels and music.

[1] http://www.discogs.com/artist/10263-David-Bowie
[2] https://duckduckgo.com/?q=%22hunky+dory+music+hall%22+detmold&iac=1

8. Richard Foote - February 12, 2016

Hi Robert

Thanks for your comments, much appreciated🙂

I think David and Douglas would make a very interesting combination !!

9. Tom Swier - February 20, 2016

Richard,

Believe it or not, you were indeed the first person I thought of after hearing of David Bowie’s passing. Although I am not personally a huge fan of his music (I like his music but my tastes follow a different path), I knew from your website that you are probably his number one fan. I remember saying to myself when I heard the news “That’s going to be a real downer for Richard Foote”. We’ve lost some great ones over the past year.

Richard Foote - March 10, 2016

Thanks Tom.

We’ve today lost the great George Martin, so it’s certainly been a sad year musically this year😦


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