STAR MAN

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - WILDLIFE -

In the spring of 1972 when Dy­lan Jones was 12, he saw David Bowie per­form­ing Star­man on Top of the Pops. It was a life-chang­ing mo­ment, for him and for thou­sands of oth­ers. Over the next four decades Bowie went on to de­fine pop­u­lar cul­ture in a man­ner that pos­si­bly no­body else ever has, and Jones fol­lowed him ever y step of the way. Af­ter the singer’s death early last year, Jones doc­u­mented his life through the words of those who knew him best. He in­ter viewed more than 150 peo­ple, cast­ing the net as widely as pos­si­ble, from gui­tarists to girl­friends, groupies to neigh­bours. The re­sult is a vivid cat­a­logue of anec­dote, opin­ion, gos­sip and mem­oir. It’s a book Jones has been writ­ing for one year and all his life, he says. Th­ese ex­tracts from David Bowie: A Life are from the early ‘70s, when Bowie was just be­com­ing a star

THE MAK­ING OF AN ICON

WOODY WOODMANSEY (drum­mer, The Spi

ders from Mars) Com­ing from York­shire, we were mu­si­cian-mu­si­cians. We didn’t dress up. Meet­ing David, it was like, this guy dresses up! Even for break­fast! When I first met him he had a rain­bow T-shirt on, hair down his back, ban­gles on, red cor­duroy trousers. Shoes with red stars painted on them. I thought, bloomin’ ’eck, he’s more dressed up than my girl­friend. But we chat­ted for a few hours and he played stuff, and we thought this guy can write, and he means it. I had never re­ally met any­one that de­ter­mined. He was as­sum­ing he’d made it al­ready.

GLENN GORING (mu­si­cian) David and Angie [Bowie, his wife] rented a large ground-floor flat in Had­don Hall, Southend Road, Beck­en­ham. It was pretty much an open house… At that time Zowie [Dun­can] Bowie was an in­fant. So you would have this nappy-chang­ing, toy-rat­tling, baby-cry­ing, fam­ily en­vi­ron­ment woven into this bo­hemian, slightly crazy at­mos­phere.

RICK WAKEMAN (pi­anist) David used to call Had­don Hall ‘Beck­en­ham Palace’. The min­strels’ gallery was big­ger than my en­tire house. He also had a grand piano, which was un­usual in those days. He asked me to sit down, took out this bat­tered old 12-string gui­tar and said, ‘I want you to lis­ten to th­ese songs.’ Then he played Life on

Mars? and it was fan­tas­tic. It ticked ev­ery box. Great melody. Great chords, sur­prises, and then when you thought it was go­ing to go a cer­tain place it went some­where else. He was very good at that. When I asked him why he was play­ing his songs on a tatty gui­tar, he said, ‘If it sounds good on this, think about what it will sound like with good mu­si­cians on good in­stru­ments.’

ROY DAL­LEY (neigh­bour) I lived on a coun­cil es­tate on Beck­en­ham Hill Road, which was half a mile from Had­don Hall. I was 10 years old and when my friends and I dis­cov­ered that David Bowie lived down the road we’d go down there and hang out. Had­don Hall was a kind of dark, al­most scary-look­ing place. We knocked on the door at least six dif­fer­ent times be­fore any­one an­swered. One day Angie an­swered the door, and af­ter that she al­ways did. She was in­cred­i­bly gen­er­ous with her time, chat­ting to us all. She had a larger-thanlife per­son­al­ity. Her hair was some kind of tone be­tween sky blue and turquoise, and cut in the same style as Bowie’s. Bowie him­self would al­ways be in the back­ground. We saw him once, sit­ting at the win­dow, with the bright-red hair, but as soon as he saw us turn­ing into his drive he just shot away. You’d also see other kids hanging around, as he was be­com­ing fa­mous by then. We weren’t rude, we were just wide-eyed kids go­ing to see the weird pop star who lived up the road.

BOY GE­ORGE (singer) Angie had opened the win­dow at Had­don Hall when we were kids and shouted, ‘Why don’t you all just f— off ?’ We were de­lighted – it was an ac­knowl­edg­ment of sorts. We adored Angie just as much as we adored David.

SEX, DRUGS AND EARLY STAR­DOM

CHERRY VANILLA (ac­tress) The first time I met David was when I went with [pho­tog­ra­pher] Leee Black Childers and [singer] Jayne County to see him at the Coun­try Club on the out­skirts of Lon­don. We in­tro­duced our­selves to Angie, who in­tro duced us to David, and we all be­came friends. We all recog­nised some­thing in each other. I think he saw the roles we could play for him. We weren’t ser­vants, but we wanted to tell the world how fab­u­lous he was. Ev­ery­thing was sex­ual in those days. Time was go­ing fast. You just wanted to ac­com­plish some­thing and also have as much fun, and as much sex, as you could. We were all in love with him. He was our mis­sion. We just wanted to end up in bed with him at the end of a work­ing day.

ANGIE BOWIE (ex-wife) I would say that for quite a long time David had a sex ad­dic­tion. Even when he was in The Man­ish Boys [1964-5] he was ob­sessed with sex . Dana [Gille­spie, singer and Bowie’s girl­friend] said that back then the band used to have a hearse, which was ba­si­cally their booty buggy, you know. So yes, there was prob­a­bly a sex ad­dic­tion. We had an open re­la­tion­ship.

David was bi­sex­ual, I was bi­sex­ual. I wouldn’t have had any use for David if he hadn’t been bi­sex­ual. Be­ing bi­sex­ual ob­vi­ously helped his im­age; of course it did! How could you go to a dance club, and not un­der­stand or ap­pre­ci­ate all the fab­u­lous al­ter­na­tive so­ci­ety peo­ple who love your mu­sic! So it was very planned. I didn’t man­u­fac­ture his im­age though, I didn’t have to!

WENDY LEIGH (bi­og­ra­pher) One of the ways in which David made it in Amer­ica was by be­ing very English and hav­ing th­ese won­der­ful man­ners. Let’s not forget, he wasn’t a work­ing-class hero, in the same way that Mick Jag­ger wasn’t. He was mid­dle class to the core, and in the States he used to play on his English­ness. He would ro­mance women, sing to them, prop­erly se­duce them. He would talk and talk and talk un­til they were des­per­ate to sleep with him.

Af­ter a con­cert in LA in 1972, the DJ Wolf­man Jack threw a party at his home, with Bowie as the guest of hon­our. He spied a girl who was danc­ing with Kim Fow­ley [record pro­ducer and singer], who knew ev­ery­one. David asked Fow­ley if she was with him, and when Fow­ley said no, he walked across to her, and said, ‘My name is David Bowie. Would you like to ac­com­pany me to the bath­room?’ When they even­tu­ally came out, he kissed the girl on the cheek, shook her hand, and said, ‘Thank you.’ He played the English gen­tle­man to the hilt.

JOSETTE CARUSO (groupie) I went to see Bowie at Carnegie Hall in 1972 and it was un­like any­thing I had ever seen be­fore. The show it­self was

‘When I first met him he didn’t take many drugs, maybe a diet pill ev­ery now and then, and a glass of white wine to get him­self tipsy’

‘At the end of the party, ev­ery­one was gone apart from me and David and Mick Jag­ger, so it ended up with the three of us sleep­ing to­gether. And we had a won­der­ful time’

in­sane, as ev­ery­body just dressed up be­yond be­lief to see him. I was back­stage af­ter the gig, and David’s body­guard in­vited me to go back to the Plaza Ho­tel. So I went, and was stand­ing around in this amaz­ing sil­ver se­quinned mir­rored dress when David walks up to me and says, ‘I can see me in you.’ Which was the most flir­ta­tious thing to say. But that was very David. Very po­lite, very flir­ta­tious. Any­way, we were talk­ing and mak­ing out and then he whis­pered that Angie was start­ing to look at me and was prob­a­bly go­ing to throw a plate of cakes at me. So David in­vites me to the next gig, which was in Philadel­phia. I didn’t go to the show; I went straight up to his suite at the Ben­jamin Franklin Ho­tel and waited for him.

When he turned up he re­ally turned it on. He prop­erly se­duced me. I re­mem­ber we talked a lot about The Catcher in the Rye, as he seemed to iden­tify with the book’s pro­tag­o­nist, Holden Caulfield. We talked about Ni­et­zsche, Freud, Pi­casso, pae­dophiles, so many dif­fer­ent things.

We spoke for over an hour, as though he was ac­tu­ally try­ing to woo me. And then all this conversati­on ob­vi­ously led to bed, where he was won­der­ful. Just ter­rific. He was ver y well en­dowed – I mean, ab­so­lutely. He didn’t ap­pear to be on drugs, but he re­ally knew his way around a woman’s body. He was an English gen­tle­man, and it wasn’t just about him. He took con­trol in bed, and was very con­sid­er­ate, and very fo­cused on mak­ing love. Lots of kiss­ing, lots of hug­ging. The sex was won­der­ful. He was the ul­ti­mate rock’ n’roll lover.

Some­thing weird hap­pened later that night in Philadel­phia. Some­thing re­ally chilling. At one point there was a knock on the door, and, af­ter a while, one of his body­guards went to an­swer it, and then called for David. So David went off and came back a few min­utes later white as a sheet. He was vis­i­bly shocked. Some­one had just turned up and of­fered him a warm, dead body to have sex with. The town had never seen any­thing like David be­fore, and he ob­vi­ously looked like such a freak that some sick peo­ple thought he might be into necrophili­a. That was the per­cep­tion of Ziggy, and that’s how crazy that tour was, that’s how deca­dent it was. David was com­pletely hor­ri­fied. He said, ‘Who on earth do they think I am? Why would they think I’d be in­ter­ested in some­thing like that? Why would I be in­ter­ested in f—ing a dead body?’

CHERRY VANILLA When I first met him he didn’t take many drugs, maybe a diet pill ev­ery now and then, and a glass of white wine to get him­self tipsy. He didn’t re­ally get high un­til he started get­ting into co­caine, which I ac­tu­ally helped him get into. He went into co­caine re­ally fast, but then he came out of it quite quickly too. I helped him get the very best co­caine when he was do­ing it, but he only did it for 18 months or two years tops.

MARY FIN­NI­GAN (land­lady, lover) David was scared of LSD and hinted that he found the prospect of los­ing con­trol dur­ing the psychedeli­c ex­pe­ri­ence ter­ri­fy­ing. He talked about his half­brother Terry’s men­tal ill­ness. ‘He’s schiz­o­phrenic and it prob­a­bly runs in the fam­ily,’ he said.

AVA CHERRY (back­ing singer) Mick Jag­ger knew David, and I was friends with both of them. So all three of us used to hang out a lot, and, yes, we did have some fun to­gether. We were stay­ing at The Sherry-nether­land [Ho­tel] in New York one night, where David had given a party for Ru­dolf Nureyev. At the end of the party, ev­ery­one was gone apart from me and David and Mick, so it just ended up with the three of us sleep­ing to­gether. That was it. And we had a won­der­ful time.

THE ZIGGY STAR­DUST YEARS

DAVID BAI­LEY I took my first pic­tures of Bowie for Vogue in 1972. He came in full Ziggy Star­dust cos­tume. Act­ing al­ready. I said to him, ‘Who are you to­day? Lassie or f—ing Ham­let?’ But right then, right at that mo­ment, he was Ziggy Star­dust, and there was noth­ing I could do about it. You never know who you’re get­ting when you pho­to­graph an ac­tor, and he was al­ways an ac­tor.

TREVOR BOLDER (bassist, The Spi­ders from

Mars) When he wanted to de­scribe ex­actly how he wanted us to look, he took us to see A Clock­work

Or­ange. A lot of peo­ple thought it was Star Trek but it wasn’t. And we just dressed up. It was the makeup thing that was the big deal. [Mick] Ron­son [also a Spi­der] was def­i­nitely against it, but then we started us­ing it… It was more theatre make-up than any­thing glammy. He just wanted us to stand out. We went along with it, and all the girls liked [it].

I am enor­mously proud of what B owie achieved on our be­half, as it was like reach­ing the sum­mit of Ever­est.

KEN SCOTT (record pro­ducer) Tony [De­fries, mu­sic man­ager] told David that he was go­ing to

make him a star. And he did it by en­cour­ag­ing David to be­come quite dis­tant from ev­ery­one around him, by act­ing as though he was al­ready fa­mous. I’ve seen lots of peo­ple do this since, but David was the first time I’d seen this process in ac­tion. It was fas­ci­nat­ing to watch.

[He in­sisted] that Bowie sep­a­rate him­self from the rest of the band. I could never work out if the per­son­al­ity change was be­cause he was adopt­ing the Ziggy per­sona, or whether it was the re­sult of be­com­ing suc­cess­ful. Suc­cess changes ev­ery­one. The whole thing be­came in­ter­twined. He ba­si­cally be­came more dis­tant, which was a huge is­sue with the band. What you have to re­mem­ber is that when the band got to­gether, even though it was David who was steer­ing them, they were very much a band, very much a group of lads, but as soon as the suc­cess hap­pened, David’s as­cen­dancy was al­most ver­ti­cal. Up and up he went.

NICK KENT ( jour­nal­ist) When­ever I spoke to Iggy Pop about David Bowie he would al­ways say, ‘That guy is a white-hot tal­ent.’ Ev­ery­one I knew spoke about Bowie as a tal­ent.

IGGY POP (singer) David was worldly. I learned things that I still use to­day. I met The Bea­tles and The Stones, and this one and that one, and this ac­tress and this ac­tor and all th­ese pow­er­ful peo­ple through him. And I watched.

DANNY FIELDS (man­ager, pub­li­cist and

au­thor) David was very good at spotting tal­ent more cos­mic than his own, and very good at flat­ter­ing peo­ple. David was a vam­pire, but a good vam­pire, he did some­thing good with the blood. He shared the nu­tri­ents.

FAM­ILY, ROOTS AND MAD­NESS

DANA GILLE­SPIE (singer and girl­friend) I went once to his par­ents’ place in Brom­ley. I was 13 or 14, just af­ter we met. They’re in this tiny lit­tle work­ing-class house. I walk in and the par­ents are sit­ting there and there’s a tele­vi­sion blast­ing away in the cor­ner, and no­body spoke. I think we had lit­tle tuna sand­wiches. I came from a house where ev­ery­one chat­ted away and had a lot of so­cial in­ter­course, but his par­ents didn’t say any­thing. It was a re­ally cold house, a very chilly at­mos­phere. I could im­me­di­ately tell that David didn’t re­ally like living at home. He was un­com­fort­able dur­ing the en­tire visit. When his par­ents went out, David said to me, ‘I want to get out of here. I have to get out of here. I want to go up in the world.’ So he went up in the world.

DAVID BOWIE I had a brother, a half-brother, Terry, who was a jazz and soul fan and he would bring home al­bums by Tony Ben­nett. He al­ways thought Tony Ben­nett was bet­ter than Frank Si­na­tra; I think he was prob­a­bly right ac­tu­ally.

OLIVER JAMES (psy­chol­o­gist) Terry was an im­por­tant per­son in his child­hood, and in his teenage years, and he was a very cool guy. Him be­ing cool helped Bowie to de­velop his own cool. I guess he would have felt guilt… be­cause as Terry had a dif­fer­ent fa­ther, David’s fa­ther didn’t want Terry in the house. David was cer­tainly the cho­sen one. He was treated bet­ter, he was loved, and he ap­peared to have some con­trol over his life.

ANGIE BOWIE (ex-wife) I had Terry at Had­don Hall for a while, as I brought him from Cane Hill [hospi­tal, af­ter he was di­ag­nosed with schizophre­nia] to live with us for six months. They gave him drugs which they said were go­ing to man­age him as best as pos­si­ble, and David felt so guilty. I said don’t feel guilty, get Terry to come and spend some time [with us] and it will change ev­ery­thing. And it did. A lot of his mu­sic af­ter­wards, where he deals with in­san­ity and mad­ness… had a lot to do with the fact that he had a chance to spend time with Terry and talk to him.

HANIF KUREISHI (au­thor and play­wright) I al­ways got the sense that he couldn’t quite work out the Terry el­e­ment of his life. He found it con­fus­ing. He would talk about how awk­ward it was in the house for his mother and fa­ther when Terry was around. And I’ve of­ten won­dered if the whole alien thing didn’t come from that. Some­one who is sort of slightly to one side who doesn’t quite get what’s go­ing on.

TONY ZANETTA (ac­tor, Warhol acolyte) In the early days… he talked about his fam­ily. Ac­cord­ing to him ev­ery­one was schiz­o­phrenic… there was a lot of mad­ness in the fam­ily. The un­der­cur­rent to that was, I’m mad, I’m in­sane, and this is my way out of it. Af­ter a while it wasn’t re­ally spo­ken of, so much, but it was al­ways there.

NINA SI­MONE (mu­si­cian) [ When we met in July 1974] he said, ‘The first thing I want you to know is that you’re not crazy – don’t let any­body tell you you’re crazy, be­cause where you’re com­ing from, there are very few of us out there.’ He told me that he was not a gifted singer. He said, ‘What’s wrong with you is you were gifted – you have to play. Your genius over­shad­ows the money… whereas I wasn’t a genius, but I planned, I wanted to be a rock’n’roll singer and I just got the right for­mula.’ He [had] more sense than any­body I’ve ever known. It’s not hu­man – David [wasn’t] from here.

David Bowie: A Life, by Dy­lan Jones, is pub­lished by Pref­ace (£20). To order your copy for £16.99, call 0844 871 1514 or visit books.tele­graph.co.uk

‘David was a vam­pire, but a good vam­pire, he did some­thing good with the blood. He shared the nu­tri­ents’

Per­form­ing with The Spi­ders from Mars in 1973

With Angie and son Zowie (now di­rec­tor Dun­can Jones), 1974

With singer Dana Gille­spie – an early girl­friend – in 1971

Singing Star­man with Mick Ron­son on Top of the Pops in 1972

With wife Angie at Had­don Hall, Beck­en­ham, Kent, in April 1971

Sign­ing an au­to­graph at Union Sta­tion, Los An­ge­les, in 1973

Back­stage with Iggy Pop at The Ritz, New York, 1986

His last per­for­mance as Ziggy, with singer Ava Cherry, in Lon­don, 1973

At Café Royal in Lon­don with Lou Reed and Mick Jag­ger in 1973

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