Nile Rodgers tells of transforming Bowie's "Let's Dance" from folky to beyond funky

Legendary guitarist, producer, and composer Nile Rodgers—co-founder of Chic—tells the story of transforming David Bowie's "Let's Dance" from its original "folky" vibe into the post-funk masterpiece we know and love.

And for more, dig the below demo of "Let's Dance" that Rodgers shared in 2018 on what would have been Bowie's 71st birthday:

(via Kottke) Read the rest

David Bowie on playing to the gallery

Advice from David Bowie for artists: "always remember that the reason that you initially started working was that there was something inside yourself that you've felt that if you could manifest it in some way you would understand more about yourself and how you coexist with the rest of society." [via @ThamKhaiMeng] Read the rest

Bowie's intense performance of "Fame" on the Cher Show 1975

I had seen Bowie and Cher's disco goofball Young Americans medley from her show, circa 1975 (where David still manages to rise about the cheese), but I can't believe that, until last night, I'd never encountered this rather singular performance of him singing "Fame" on the show. As the video description points out, this performance uses a different backing track for him to sing to than the one found on the record, also making it extra special.

Fame, what you need is in the limo Fame, what you get is no tomorrow

If this track, that Carlos Alomar guitar strut, and that rhythm section don't make you at least think about clucking around your hab unit like a funky chicken, you ain't doin' it right. Read the rest

Watch David Bowie on The Dick Cavett Show (1974)

"The lives of the rock stars are really not as strange as the lives of the fans."

And here's Bowie's performance from the show that aired on December 5, 1974:

Read the rest

New book about the books that changed David Bowie's life

The incredible museum exhibition David Bowie Is included a list of 100 books that were not necessarily his favorites but rather those that influenced him the most. Author John O'Connell used that list as the basis of his own book, Bowie's Bookshelf: The Hundred Books that Changed David Bowie's Life, containing plot summaries, analysis, and his thoughts on how each text connects to Bowie. From John Quin's review at The Quietus:

O’Connell rightly reminds us that Bowie was a Mod and that his literary taste was consistently modernist: Camus, Eliot, Lawrence and Kerouac all feature here amongst others....

There are plenty of surprises here such as his love for true crime classics like Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and travel narratives such as Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines. We learn more about Bowie’s friendships with writers like Hanif Kureishi and William Boyd. It’s also good to be reminded that Bowie loved a laugh and rated Keith Waterhouse. Humour features strongly with Viz, Private Eye, and Spike Milligan’s Puckoon all making the cut...

The singer’s Berlin years, the time of Low and ‘Heroes’, are linked with the inclusion of Berlin, Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin with its lowlife nightclubbing. There’s pleasure too in hearing that Bowie liked the revival of forgotten classics such as John Kennedy Toole’s wonderful A Confederacy of Dunces. And Bowie’s interest in modern art is underlined by the inclusion of Richard Cork’s book on David Bomberg and Arthur C. Danto’s thinking on Warhol in Beyond the Brillo box: The Visual Arts in Post-Historical Perspective.

Read the rest

Bowie footage released from 1990s "hologram" project

Footage of a 1990s-era David Bowie performing repeating poses against a plain blue set was used to create a holographic album insert, reports the BBC, but it turns out there's 30 minutes of video to enjoy.

... the film remained in storage at Leicester's De Montfort University. "He... started to do this set of amazing iconic movements that he was famous for and all his fans would recognise", Prof [Martin] Richardson said.

The footage was played to 300 lucky fans Monday.

Prof Richardson, who first met the star in 1994, recalled: "Bowie said to me, 'When you've done your bloody hologram it will be up and down the width and breadth of the country. I am going to make you famous.'

"He got back on the sound stage and said, 'Right, what do you want me to do?' and I thought, 'I am going to direct David Bowie, the super rock star I idolised as a boy."

The hologram was then reproduced for 500,000 copies of the album.

Read the rest

Zippy Stardust

I loved this image, posted today to promote a B3TA newsletter but originally from its photoshop thread challenging readers to create album covers for old (largely UK) TV shows. It's by christhebarker.

If you're American and Zippy Stardust is a baffling, inexplicable horror to you, be assured the same is also true of Britons. Read the rest

Listen to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's minimalist cover of David Bowie's "Life on Mars?"

This lovely cover was heard in the seventh episode of the new Watchmen TV show, titled "An Almost Religious Awe." The track will appear on Reznor and Ross's album "Watchmen: Vol. 3 (Music from the HBO Series)" due out December 16.

Read the rest

Occupations by frequency as mentioned in the lyrics of David Bowie

Andy Riley compiled and tabulated a full breakdown of jobs & occupations by the frequency of their mentions in the lyrics of David Bowie, of which the top 5 are excluded in this screenshot of his work. Can you guess them before clicking through? Read the rest

Mattel announces "David Bowie" Barbie doll

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of David Bowie's "Space Oddity," Mattel has announced a "David Bowie" Barbie doll. On Amazon, it's priced at $50. From the New York Times:

It’s a notably androgynous look for a doll that epitomized the stereotypes of feminine appearance in its earlier iterations. In more recent years, however, male celebrity depictions have not just been reserved for Ken. Over the past decade, Barbie has dressed like Andy Warhol, Elvis and Frank Sinatra.

Read the rest

Listen to David Bowie hear a touching birthday message from Scott Walker

On January 8, 1997, David Bowie became quite emotional after hearing happy birthday message from the pioneering pop/experimental musician Scott Walker, who died yesterday. It was a touching moment then and even moreso now that both of these inimitable forces of avant-garde art/music are gone. Turns out that Walker's birthday was the following day:

"I'll have a drink to you on the other side of midnight. How's that?"

Read the rest

New David Bowie documentary in production at BBC

BBC Studios Production is completing a new feature documentary, David Bowie: The First Five Years, to air next year. Its the third in director Francis Whately's trilogy that has included "David Bowie: Five Years" (2013) and "David Bowie: The Last Five Years" (2017). The film will cover the Bowie's formative years as an artist, starting in 1966 up until the birth of Ziggy Stardust. According to the BBC, the 90-minute doc "traces his interest in everything from Holst to Pinky and Perky, from Anthony Newley to Tibetan Buddhism, and how he used all these influences to create not only Ziggy Stardust, but the material for his entire career."

The film also unearths a report, deep from the BBC Archives, following a BBC audition on Tuesday 2 November 1965 of a band called David Bowie and the Lower Third. Their audition material included Chim-Chim-Cheree as well as an original number called Baby That’s A Promise. The BBC’s ‘Talent Selection Group’ describe him as having “quite a different sound”, but also “no personality”, “not particularly exciting” and “will not improve with practice”. The BBC later appears to have changed its mind...

Contributors include Bowie’s first cousin and lifelong-friend Kristina Amadeus and former girlfriend and muse Hermione Farthingale - both of whom have never before been filmed talking about him; the late Lindsay Kemp in his last filmed interview, lifelong friend and producer Tony Visconti, former girlfriend and friend Dana Gillespie, lifelong friends Geoff MacCormak and George Underwood, Bowie's producer Mike Vernon, Bowie's early producer Tony Hatch, and Woody Woodmansey, the last remaining Spider from Mars.

Read the rest

How Bauhaus (not the band) influenced David Bowie and Lady Gaga's style

German art school Bauhaus (1919-1933) had a tremendous impact on architecture, graphic design, and, yes, fashion. From Great Big Story:

The minimalist aesthetic has graced the runways of Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander Wang, adorned pop stars like David Bowie and Lady Gaga, and motivated the work of designer Anne Gorke. A native of Bauhaus’ birthplace—Weimar, Germany—Gorke pays homage to her upbringing with each stitch.

Read the rest

Music video made from David Bowie's beautiful TV commercials for Japanese booze

In 1980, David Bowie did a series of Japanese TV commercials for Crystal Jun Rock, a Japanese liquor. See below. “The money is a useful thing,” Bowie later said about doing the ads.

The soundtrack was the gorgeous track "Crystal Japan" that Bowie released first on a couple 7-inch singles and then as a bonus track on the CD reissue of "Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)." Bowie fan Nacho Video recut the three TV commercials into the lovely music video above for "Crystal Japan."

(via /r/ObscureMedia)

Read the rest

Striking similarity between David Bowie and cartoon man on Devo album cover

Joel Gion of Brian Jonestown Massacre posted these images on his Instagram. Coincidence or... something else?

Well, David Bowie did help Brian Eno produce Devo's "Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!" (1978). But apparently illustrator Joe Heiner based the cover art on a photo of golfer Juan "Chi-Chi" Rodríguez mixed with an image Mark Mothersbaugh had "procured from a local newspaper that morphed the faces of U.S. presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford."

Still, the resemblance here is striking.

More on the cover art at Wikipedia. Read the rest

David Bowie's first recording, thought lost, now headed to auction

In 1963, David Bowie (then David Jones), age 16, recorded a demo song “I Never Dreamed” with his band The Konrads. Long thought lost, Konrads drummer David Hadfield found it in the 1990s in an old breadbox. Until now he's kept quiet about the find but has decided to auction it off. It's expected to sell for £10,000. Above is a short clip of the tune. From Omega Auctions:

Hadfield recalls ‘Our agent, Eric Easton, who also managed The Rolling Stones, asked us to do a demo so he could try and get us an auction at Decca. So in early 1963 I booked into R.G.Jones small studio in Morden. In preparation for the demo David and our guitarist Neville Wills wrote 2/3 songs. We had decided that we would do a couple of guitar instrumentals and one original song. I chose “I Never Dreamed” as it was the strongest, the other two were a bit weak! I also decided that David was the best person to sing it and give the right interpretation. So this became the very first recording of David Jones (Bowie) singing 55 years ago! There is no other recording featuring David as lead in existence. Decca initially turned us down, but when they eventually gave us an auction later that year, vocalist Roger Ferris was the lead voice and David sang backing harmonies.’

(Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)

Read the rest

Mark Dery visits the "David Bowie is" exhibit

My favorite culture critic, the inimitable Mark Dery, visited the "David Bowie is" exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. Author of the excellent "All the Young Dudes: Why Glam Rock Matters," Dery sees the exhibit as "a burial chamber for a rock god, replete with everything he’ll need for the afterlife." From the Brooklyn Rail:

Crepuscule with Bowie, I thought, not quite groping my way through the perpetual twilight of David Bowie is at the Brooklyn Museum. The 400 artifacts in this blockbuster show—costumes (stage and offstage, because when wasn’t Bowie onstage?), handwritten lyrics, record-cover art, stage-set designs and maquettes, personal effects (including, fabulously, the Great Man’s coke spoon from the dissolute mid-seventies)—are displayed in vitrines or mounted on stagelike platforms and spotlit. The encroaching shadows give the exhibition a sepulchral feel. Taking it all in, I had an inkling of what Howard Carter must’ve felt as he got his first look, by flickering candlelight, at Tutankhamun’s tomb...

"Ziggy's Reliquaries" (Brooklyn Rail) Read the rest

More posts