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!)

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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

Some idiot vandalized the brand new David Bowie statue in England

An asshole with a spray can vandalized a bronze David Bowie statue just two days after it was unveiled in Aylesbury, England. The individual wrote "Feed the homeless first," "RIP DB," and made a general mess of the statue. Artist Andrew Sinclair created the sculpture that shows Bowie and several of his personas including Ziggy Stardust, who made his live debut in Aylesbury. Fortunately, the paint is coming off and the vandal was recorded on video (below).

(BBC)

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Watch David Bowie and Marianne Faithful (dressed as a nun) perform "I Got You Babe" in 1973

In October 1973, David Bowie appeared for the last time as Ziggy Stardust at the "1980 Floor Show" (Get it? 19-Eighty-Floor? 1984?), a surreal cabaret he curated at London's famed The Marquee Club. Some of the extravaganza was later broadcast on NBC TV's "The Midnight Special." Above, Bowie and Marianne Faithful performing the delightful Sonny & Cher number "I Got You Babe." Bowie later said:

There were a lot of clubs to go to in the Soho scene in the 60's but The Marquee was top of the list, because musicians did hang out there, pretending to talk business and picking up gigs - but picking up girls mostly. One of my keenest memories of The Marquee in the '60's was having a permanent erection because there were so many fantastic looking girls in there, it was all tourists, especially in summer, all flocking to London to get an R&B star. My final performance of Ziggy Stardust was at The Marquee. I wanted to go back there because I had so many good memories over the years. We changed the place completely and for 3 days we filmed what became 'The 1980 Floor Show'. I had The Troggs on with me and then got Marianne Faithfull to duet with me on a version of Sonny & Cher's 'I Got You Babe'. I dressed Marianne in a nun's habit with the back cut out and I dressed as the Angel of Death!

(via r/obscuremedia and The Ziggy Stardust Companion)

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Hear the unreleased demo of David Bowie's "Let's Dance"

In celebration of what would have been David Bowie's 71st birthday today, Nile Rodgers released this stunning demo recording of "Let's Dance" that he co-produced in 1982.

Rodgers says:

"I've been blessed with a wonderful career but my creative partnership with David Bowie ranks very, very, very high on the list of my most important and rewarding collaborations. This demo gives you, the fans, a bird's eye view of the very start of it! I woke up on my first morning in Montreux with David peering over me. He had an acoustic guitar in his hands and exclaimed, 'Nile, darling, I think this is a HIT!'

...This recording was the first indication of what we could do together as I took his 'folk song' and arranged it into something that the entire world would soon be dancing to and seemingly has not stopped dancing to for the last 35 years! It became the blueprint not only for 'Let's Dance' the song but for the entire album as well.

(Rolling Stone) Read the rest

The time David Bowie photographed his aura before and after using cocaine

In 1975, Thelma Ross of UCLA's parapsychology lab gifted David Bowie a Kirlian photography machine to capture images of peoples' "auras." This machine generates a high-voltage field to a photographic plate resulting in a glowing corona discharge image of whatever is positioned on the plate. The color, shape, and intensity of the image is affected by myriad factors, from humidity to how well the object is grounded to, or, in the case of people, the amount of oil and sweat on the skin. But of course Bowie was into the occult and other high weirdness so the possibility of photographing one's "aura" appealed to him. From the Daily Grail:

Bowie’s interest in Kirlian photography was evident: some of the photos that resulted from his experimentation with the technique were published in the programme for his 1976 tour in support of Station to Station. And he used it to try and understand what was happening to his body when he took drugs: he compared two Kirlian photographs of his fingertip (beside a crucifix given to him by his father), one image taken before consuming cocaine, the other after.

Bowie liked the image so much that he used it in the booklet of Earthling (1997) and as the cover art for the "Little Wonder" single.

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Vinyl reissue of David Bowie and Trevor Jones's Labyrinth soundtrack

David Bowie and Trevor Jones's soundtrack to Jim Henson's fantastical film Labyrinth, starring Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King, will be reissued on vinyl next month for the first time since its release in 1986. (These days an original pressing goes for around $75-$100.) To complement Trevor Jones's synthesizer/orchestra score, Bowie wrote five original songs for Labyrinth, including Underground, As The World Falls Down, and the classic Magic Dance.

With Magic Dance, "the song for Jareth and the baby, sung by them and the goblins in the castle throne room - I had problems,” Bowie said at the time. “The baby I used in the recording studios couldn’t, or wouldn’t, put more than two gurgles together, so I ended up doing the baby-gurgle chorus myself! It’s an up-tempo song, and visually exciting.”

Labyrinth LP (Amazon)

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Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World" played on a Korean gayageum

In her latest video, Luna Lee, master of the gayageum, plays a stunning version of the David Bowie classic.

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David Bowie Royal Mail stamps now available for pre-order

The Royal Mail's David Bowie Special Stamps are now available for pre-order. The 10 stamps -- six featuring his iconic album covers and four with concert images -- will be available on March 14. A stamp with cover art from "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars" was previously issued in 2010. The only other groups that Royal Mail has honored with a dedicated stamp issue like this are The Beatles and Pink Floyd. Read the rest

Watch: David Bowie's first TV appearance at age 17 was a delightful prank

In November 1964, 17-year-old David Bowie (then Jones) appeared on BBC's "Tonight" to talk about his new Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men, a PR stunt cooked up by his dad. Bowie was already a veteran rocker, having played with The Konrads,Tthe King Bees, and The Manish Boys. From Wendy Leigh's Bowie: The Biography:

He might have been part of the Manish Boys, but inside, David had always seen himself as a star who stood on his own. So he was heartened when his father came up with a masterstroke.... John Jones swung into action and, applying his well-honed PR skills, along with David's input, concocted a cause designed to thrust David into the limelight....

Consequently, in November 1964, at John Jones's behest, the ever-obliging Leslie Thomas [a music columnist and former Barnardo's boy who'd previously written about the King Bees, also at John Jones's behest] published an article in the Evening News titled "For Those Beyond the Fringe," announcing the formation of a new society, the International League for the Preservation of Animal Filament, whose founder and president was none other than David Jones.

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Bowie and Bing play "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy"

The performance is from the 1977 TV special "Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas." From Wikipedia:

Bowie's appearance has been described as a "surreal" event, undertaken at a time that he was "actively trying to normalise his career". He later admitted to having only appeared on the show because "I just knew my mother liked him". Buz Kohan was not sure that Crosby knew who Bowie was, but Ian Fraser claimed, "I'm pretty sure he did. Bing was no idiot. If he didn't, his kids sure did."

According to co-writer Ian Fraser, Bowie balked at singing "Little Drummer Boy": "I hate this song. Is there something else I could sing?", Fraser recalls Bowie telling him. Fraser, along with songwriter Larry Grossman and the special's scriptwriter, Buz Kohan, then wrote "Peace on Earth" as a counterpoint to "Little Drummer Boy". Crosby performed "Little Drummer Boy", while Bowie sang the new tune "Peace on Earth", which they reportedly performed after less than an hour of rehearsal.

A few days after the taping, Crosby said of Bowie, "clean-cut kid and a real fine asset to the show. He sings well, has a great voice and reads lines well."

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Buy Bowie's amazing 1960s stereo and his Memphis furniture collection

On November 11, Sotheby's will auction off David Bowie's beautiful collection of Italian designer furniture and other objects, including his incredible 1966 "Radio-Phonograph, Model No. RR126" by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni. The bulk of his collection going on the block though are 1980s pieces of Memphis furniture. Over at Collectors Weekly, Hunter Oatman-Stanford writes about Bowie's deep appreciation for Memphis:

The name “Memphis” was supposedly chosen after an early brainstorming session, during which Bob Dylan’s song “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again” played repeatedly on the record player. The designers appreciated the word’s disparate connotations, evoking both cheap American kitsch and the regal city of ancient Egypt.

United in their efforts to reject traditional notions of “good design,” the Memphis artists mocked the bland austerity of Modernism by mixing clashing colors, patterns, and materials on playful geometric forms that often masked an object’s intended use. Although their collaborations only lasted a few years—Sottsass left the Memphis group in 1985, and the rest parted ways in 1987—they caused an uproar in the design world. Memphis sensibilities continued trickling into mainstream design via knockoff brands that influenced interiors everywhere from movie sets to high-school cafeterias.

“It didn’t look serious. It looked like a prank,” Bowie wrote of Memphis in 2002. “It mixed Formica attitude with marble diffidence. Bright yellows against turquoise. Virus patterns on ceramics. It couldn’t care less about function.”

"Space Oddity: David Bowie's Secret Obsession With '80s Memphis Design" (Thanks, Ben Marks!)

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Bowie memorialized as new iOS emoji

Apple's iOS 10.2 update contains two emoji inspired by David Bowie's Aladdin Sane character. The two emoji are named "Male singer" and "Female singer." See the new slew of emojis at Emojipedia. Read the rest

David Bowie's hair sold for $18,750

A lock of David Bowie's hair sold for $18,750 at auction this week. The seller was Wendy Farrier, a wigmaker who snipped the lock for color reference for a wax statue at Madame Tussauds. No info on the buyer.

"Once hair samples were matched with any figures at Madam Tussauds they were discarded as a matter of course, so there was amusement when I asked to keep one from the selection taken from Bowie,” Farrier wrote in a signed letter of provenance given to Heritage Auctions.

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Slumps: adorable art of your favorite characters all slumped over

Matt Ritchie makes "slumps" — whimsical artwork of popular characters slumped over as if falling asleep or theatrically dejected by their latest mishap.

Up top are the heroes of Star Wars, who have perhaps just learned that Disney has no plans to remaster the original theatrical release. Here's the Justice League, reading reviews of the movies they appear in. Read the rest

Listen to Michael Stipe (REM) sing David Bowie

A heavily-bearded Michael Stipe sings a beautifully baroque cover of David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World" as a teaser for tomorrow night's Music of David Bowie tribute concert at Radio City Music Hall, and streaming. (The Tonight Show)

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