Talking BOWIE: Stardust, Rayguns & Moonage Daydreams with Eisner Award-Winning Comic Book Creator Michael Allred

This interview presents a conversation with Eisner Award-winning comic book creator Michael Allred (Madman, iZombie, Red Rocket 7, X-Ray Robot, Silver Surfer, X-Statix, Bug! The Adventures of Forager) about BOWIE: Stardust, Rayguns & Moonage Daydreams.

Jeffery Klaehn: Please tell me about BOWIE: Stardust, Rayguns & Moonage Daydreams.

Michael Allred: It's a visual biography about how David Bowie exploded into superstardom with the invention of his Ziggy Stardust persona.  His whole life is represented, but the bulk of it focuses on the amp up to "Ziggy-Mania" with the goal to make it as visually interesting as possible, using the music and visual iconography as inspiration.

JK: How would you say music has influenced your art and sensibilities over the course of your career to date?

Michael Allred: It's massive.  Music injects imagery into my head.  It keeps me loose, lights me up, and fuels me.

JK: What's Bowie and his music meant for you?

Michael Allred: Bowie was the first musical entity I discovered on my own.  Looking for comics at the local drugstore, a rock mag with Bowie on the cover jumped out at me.  It was so compelling I bought the just-released "Rebel Rebel" single, and I was hooked.  A crash course and lifetime addiction to all things Bowie followed.

JK: What are your favorite Bowie songs and albums?

Michael Allred: After buying that first single I started with the Diamond Dogs album and bought everything leading up to that with my paper route money all in a very short period of time.  Read the rest

Shut in sounds: Bowie's "Let's Dance" turns 37 today

David Bowie's Let's Dance was released 37 years ago today. His 15th studio record, Let's Dance would become his most commercially successful album but it was not well-received by critics and hardcore fans at the time and Bowie himself would end up regretting the record and the tours and albums that followed (Tonight, Never Let Me Down), referring to that time as his "Phil Collins period."

I've been a big fan of Rick Beato's YouTube channel for years where he deconstructs iconic tracks and attempts to answer the musical question "What Makes This Song Great?" In this episode, he explains what makes "Let's Dance" great.

Although I count myself as a hardcore Bowie fanatic, I've always liked the record for what I thought it was: a great pop dance record. But this Beato breakdown shows some of the underlying musical genius behind even one of Bowie's poppiest confections.

Read the rest

On this day, in 1972, Ziggy Stardust touched down on planet Earth and began jiving us that we were voodoo

Imaging walking into the Toby Jug Pub in Tolworth, England on February 10, 1972 expecting to see a folkier, more mellow David Bowie and encountering Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars instead. The world didn't know it yet, but it shifted on its cultural axis that night.

This video is from later in the year, stitched together from various bits of footage and synced with the audio from Bowie's Oct 20th Santa Monica show.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

"Whatever lies behind the door" The night before Bowie died

The night before David Bowie died, I was listening to the newly released tracks from Blackstar on YouTube, in honor of his birthday the day before. I saw the Hammersmith Odeon performance for “Moonage Daydream” on the right rail and decided to open it full-screen on my large monitor and crank it to 11.

I watch “Moonage Daydream” every few years and it never ceases to enchant me all over again. But that Sunday night, the performance hit me so hard, it actually startled me. I found myself shedding tears of joy. I was exclaiming things into the soundwaves as they crashed over me. I had no idea where any of this was coming from, but I was filled with such profound feelings of love and appreciation for what this extraordinary artist, this unique human being, had inspired in me and countless others. I felt as though I could fully feel the weight of him, his art, his cultural and historical import, and exactly how he had impressed himself upon my nervous system. It almost felt like a life flashing before my eyes moment.

I decided to try and share this moment of epiphany with others. I sent a message to two friends who are also Bowie fanatics: "Is there a more perfect concert video than this? Every fucking frame of this thing blows my mind. Do yourself a favor, open it full-screen, crank it all the way up...and GO!"

After “Moonage Daydream,” I watched “My Death,” another favorite from the Hammersmith show. Read the rest

Happy Bowiemas! Celebrate by listening to Bowie yucking it up impersonating other singers

Today is David Bowie's birthday (born Jan 8, 1947, died Jan 10, 2016). Here's a great example of our favorite leper messiah's sense of humor as he impersonates a number of fellow singers during the Absolute Beginner's recording sessions in 1985.

In the six-minute clip, you hear David doing his best impressions of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Lou Reed, Anthony Newley, Iggy Pop, and Neil Young. Some of them are quite good, especially Springsteen.

And, if you (like me) are going full Bowiemas this week (can I get an alien mullet amen?), check out this 19-hour Bowie playlist on Spotify:

Listen to David Bowie from beginning to end in a 19-hour, complete chronological playlist

"If you're going to be a fucking rockstar, go be one. People don't want to see the guy next door on stage; they want to see a being from another planet." -Lemmy Kilmister

Happy Birthday, David. We miss you! Read the rest

Legendary music producer Tony Visconti breaks down Bowie's iconic "Space Oddity"

In this video, basically an ad for the upcoming Sony 360 Reality Audio, brilliant record producer and criminally underappreciated bassist, Tony Visconti, listens to the original 1969 mono demo, the '69 studio mix, and his 2019 remastering of David Bowie's breakout track, "Space Oddity." At the end, he listens to the remixed Sony 360 Reality Audio version and talks about how it especially serves the idea behind the song (traveling through space) and that David would've loved this new audio technology.

Tony talks about how incredibly modern and ahead of its time "Space Oddity" was, and how in his 2019 remastering, he remixed it to be fuller, wider, and so that you could hear elements you may not have heard in the original recording. Bringing the kick drum up in the mix, for instance, you realize what a funky track it was, Tony comments. The most interesting moment in the video is when he talks about David, many years later, explaining to him what the song was really about:

David said it was actually a song about isolation and he used the astronaut in space as the metaphor...The song was written in that spirit, being isolated in this little capsule, but seeing the Universe from your window. This is what I'm trying to get across in the mix. You are going to be traveling through this mix. Things will go by you, around you, behind you, in front, come towards you.

Here is the result of Tony's efforts, the 2019 remastering of "Space Oddity" (not the 360 RA mix). Read the rest

David Bowie could have played Rorschach in Terry Gilliam's "Watchmen" adaptation

Five years after giving his supposedly-last interview, the Great Wizard of Northampton Alan Moore has once again deigned to allow someone to record a conversation with him for public consumption. This time, it's part of Paperback Writers: Graphic Content, a new BBC series where comic book writers discuss their musical influences.

Moore is surprisingly delightful over the course of the two-hour interview-slash-DJ-session, sharing great songs alongside tidbits from his life. He talks a bit about the end of his comic book career, as well as his upcoming work in opera and film. In a rare instance, he also talks briefly about adaptations of his work. Not the upcoming HBO TV sequel-adaptation of Watchmen, of course—rather, Terry Gilliam's attempted adaptation during the late 1980s. Moore says:

I did hear that when Terry Gilliam was supposed to be doing Watchmen back in the 1980s. I remember he told me that he’d had a number of phone calls from David Bowie asking to play the Rorschach character. There’s an alternate world we can only imagine.

As if I needed any more proof that we're living in a divergent Hellworld that splintered off the main timeline after Bowie's death. Now I'll be cursed with dreams of another, even better world where Bowie played Rorschach in a Joel Silver-produced Terry Gilliam movie penned by Gilliam's Brazil co-writing partner, Charles McKeown. (Okay so maybe that Joel Silver part still would ruined it.)

You can listen to Moore's two-hour BBC interview here. Read the rest

Laurel and Hardy dancing to David Bowie's "The Jean Genie"

Oh, this is too good. After Bowie died in 2016, YouTuber George Dillon made this video of Laurel and Hardy dancing to "The Jean Genie" to honor the late rockstar. It really works.

He also did a similar treatment for "Rebel Rebel":

Joy!

(Soap Plant WACKO) 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

Ten year old son of the late, great drummer, Dennis Davis, interviews Tony Visconti about his father's work with Bowie

This is so wonderful. Hikaru Davis is the son of the late session drummer, Dennis Davis, who died in 2016. Among many others, Davis played with Stevie Wonder, George Benson, Roy Ayers, and Iggy Pop. But he is most famously remembered as one of David Bowie's drummers, playing on Bowie's 70s records, from Young Americans to Scary Monsters.

When Davis died, his son, then ten (now 13) decided that he wanted to know more about his father and what made him a great drummer by interviewing friends and fellow musicians who'd worked with his dad. The result is HD Projects, a YouTube channel presenting these interview videos as they're finished.

In the most recent upload, Hikaru interviews producer and longtime Bowie collaborator, Tony Visconti. In the video, Tony breaks down Davis' drumming on Bowie's Lodger track, "Look Back in Anger."

Here is Hikaru's statement about his documentary project and interviewing Tony Visconti:

After my father’s passing, I didn’t want to hear anybody say his name. It was not because I wanted to forget about him. It was my way of mourning. It made me sad, angry, and depressed to hear his name from someone. I wanted to keep him only inside of me. Maybe I was too selfish. But I was only 10 years old.

After a while, I started looking at social media to see what people were saying about my father. And I saw an article in Rolling Stone Magazine about Dad’s death. That’s when I saw Mr.

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LEGO Bowie contemplates post-Ziggy Stardust character ideas: Cobbler Bob? A Mad Deus? Viscount Jizzmark?

Yesterday, we paid tribute to the 42nd anniversary of David Bowie's iconic album Low by featuring The Brothers McLeod animation of comedian Adam Buxton's hysterical radio tribute to Bowie from 2013. We follow it up with another animation done from Buxton's radio show, this time with Chris Salt of Oblong Pictures using LEGO stop-motion to lovingly lampoon our favorite alien rock god.

In the video, David pitches his wife, Angie Bowie, on new character ideas after deciding to "kill off Ziggy." After running through a series of candidates: Cobbler Bob ("I could have giant shoes, with massive platforms big enough for the band to fit inside of"), A Mad Deus ("A composer of classical music who comes to believe that he's God"), The Groovy Gardener, Viscount Jizzmark, finally, he shows Angie Aladdin Sane. "Who is Aladdin Sane?," she coos. "Well, he's like Ziggy, but with a different name, and some sort of strange fluid leaking out of his collarbone," David replies.

This cute little bit does make you wonder what other characters David may have contemplated but ultimately rejected. Read the rest

David Bowie's 11th studio album, "Low," is 42 today

Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the release of David Bowie's mid-70s masterpiece, Low, the first album of his so-called Berlin Trilogy (later joined by "Heroes" and Lodger). Working with the increasingly experimental Brian Eno, this album was a dramatic departure for Bowie and much has been made over the music, the strange (and strangely inspiring) milieu of the West Berlin recording studio up against the Berlin wall, Bowie's continuing battles with the coke monster, the highly experimental nature of the sessions, and the studio use of Eno's Oblique Strategies cards.

To celebrate this happy day, and some of the strangeness around this record, here is a hilarious animated piece done in 2014 by The Brothers McLeod. The McLeod piece is actually an animation for a radio bit done by UK comedian Adam Buxton. It is a loving lampoon of Bowie, Eno, and long-time Bowie collaborator and co-producer, Tony Visconti, in the studio recording "Warszawa," one of the more haunting and inscrutable tracks on the album. You can hear Buxton's original here (though most of it ended up in the McLeod Bros animation).

This video mini-doc, done several years ago by the Polish culture portal, Cultural.pl, retraces the train trip that Bowie took through Poland, with a stop-over in Warsaw, that inspired the song. On their website, you can read more about the trip, the song, and the Polish folk tune (Helokanie) that inspired some of the vocalization on the track.

Below is Bowie performing Warszawa in Tokyo, Japan on Dec 12, 1978. Read the rest

BBC on David Bowie in 1965: "Singer not particularly exciting. Routines dull"

A new documentary, David Bowie: The First Five Years, reveals how wrong some BBC judges were when he first started out. In 1965, David Bowie's band, the Lower Third, auditioned for the BBC's radio air time. This was when Bowie went by Davey Jones. The band, and especially Bowie, did not impress. Some of the comments by the judges:

“Singer not particularly exciting. Routines dull.”

“I can’t find fault with them musically – but there is no entertainment in anything they do.”

“Strange choice of material. Amateur sounding vocalist who sings wrong notes and out of tune”.

“I don’t think they’ll get better with more rehearsals.”

These tone deaf judges must've been surprised when Bowie released Space Oddity four years later, in 1969. As an aside, notice how much the guitars in "You've Got a Habit" above (starting at around 00:57) sound so much like Space Oddity.

According to The Guardian:

The documentary, David Bowie: The First Five Years, will be shown on the BBC in 2019 to mark the 50th anniversary of Space Oddity. It features a clip of Phil Lancaster reading the audition report for the first time. The film concludes the BBC’s Bowie Five Years trilogy, directed by Francis Whately: The Last Five Years was broadcast in 2017, while Five Years, which focused on five key years in his career, was shown in 2013.

Read the rest

Getty photos unearths photos of a pre-famous 18-year-old David Bowie

In 1965 David Bowie was in a band called The Manish Boys. Getty just found photos of a long-haired 18-year-old David Bowie (who called himself Davie Jones at the time).

Two interesting things to note: the guy on the left in the top photo is a dead ringer for The Pretenders drummer Martin Chambers, and the guy in the second and third photos adjusting Bowie's jacket looks like a young Al Gore. Read the rest

Japanese woodcut artisan makes iconic David Bowie mashups

Artist Masumi Ishikawa has announced a new project to immortalize iconic David Bowie imagery in the style of ukiyo-e, or Japanese woodcuts. Read the rest

Jim Henson's 'Labyrinth' returns to theaters for 3-day fan celebration

David Bowie and his bulge will be viewable on big screens nationwide come April 29, May 1, and May 2. Fathom Events' three-day fan celebration will bring back Jim Henson's 1986 fantasy Labyrinth to select cinemas. Audience members are encouraged to wear costumes.

The event will include exclusive introductions by Brian Henson and Jennifer Connelly. In addition, audiences will enjoy a special theatrical screening excerpt from the award-winning fantasy series “The Storyteller.”

In case you thought you imagined the enormity of his bulge... you didn't:

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Pop Trash: Celebrity junk portrait artist Jason Mecier announces book

I spy (a brand new junk portrait of) Pee-wee Herman at the :29 mark

Exciting news: Jason Mecier, the artist who makes celebrity mosaic portraits in junk (or other objects like candy or cereal) has announced his first book. It's called Pop Trash: The Amazing Art of Jason Mecier and it's due out July 17, 2018.

...Here is Amy Sedaris assembled from her own trash, David Bowie made out of cosmetics and feathers, Snoop Dogg sculpted out of weed, Justin Timberlake and Miley Cyrus crafted out of candy, Kevin Bacon bespoke in bacon, and many, many more. Fun process shots offer behind-the-scenes insights into the meticulous work required to create these candy-colored—and literally trashy—spotlights (how much licorice does it take to make Harry Potter?). With mesmerizing tributes to icons ranging from Stevie Nicks to Farrah Fawcett to Honey Boo Boo, this gallery of the famous and infamous is a visual treat for fans of pop culture and pop art alike.

You can pre-order it now for $29.95.

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