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.
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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:
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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.
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
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
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:
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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.
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
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
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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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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At the Under the Radar Festival in New York City earlier this month, a crowd of soon-to-be singers rehearsed "back ups" for David Bowie's "Heroes." After an hour, they were performing the song with David Byrne as a Choir! Choir! Choir! tribute to Bowie.
According to Consequence of Sound, Byrne gave his thoughts on working with the choir group, in a press release:
"There is a transcendent feeling in being subsumed and surrendering to a group. This applies to sports, military drills, dancing… and group singing. One becomes a part of something larger than oneself, and something in our makeup rewards us when that happens. We cling to our individuality, but we experience true ecstasy when we give it up. So, the reward experience is part of the show.”
Byrne is beginning an ambitious tour in March for his new album, American Utopia. The album is his first solo LP in 14 years. Read the rest
To celebrate what would have been David Bowie's 71st birthday, Chic's Nile Rodgers shared this newly-mixed demo of the 1983 hit single, "Let's Dance."
Rolling Stone reports:
"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," Rodgers said in a statement. "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!'"
Bowie was so eager to lay down the track that a makeshift band made up of local musicians was formed specifically for this recording of "Let's Dance"; the identities of the drummer and second guitarist on the recording are still unknown. ("If you played 2nd guitar or drums let us know who you are," Rodgers added.)
Thirty-five years after recording the demo, Rodgers unearthed and then mixed the track at his Connecticut studio specifically for its digital-only release. The demo concludes with Bowie exclaiming, "That's it! That's it! Got it," as if he knew he had just recorded one of his biggest hits.
The demo was recorded at Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland on December 19th and 20th, 1982. Read the rest
The story goes that David Bowie wrote "Heroes," with Brian Eno, after spotting a couple kissing at the Berlin Wall. The couple was Bowie's producer and engineer Tony Visconti and his girlfriend Antonia Maass:
Visconti went for a walk by the adjacent Berlin Wall with backing singer Antonia Maass, and this couple then unwittingly aided the songwriting process by indulging in what they thought was a spot of covert smooching. "David could see us, and we quickly got written into the lyrics as the lovers who kissed by the wall," Visconti admits. "He wrote the entire lyrics looking out through the windows of Hansa Studios, and when I returned after a couple of hours and asked him how it was going, he said 'Oh, I've finished.' His assistant, Coco Schwab, then took me aside and said 'I think you and Antonia are in the song.' I was married at the time, so this story was never allowed to be made public, but I don't mind now.
Bowie's performance at the wall in 1987 is said to have had a role in its destruction.
Now, for the 40th anniversary of the song's release on September 23, 1977, "Heroes" is being performed by Depeche Mode both in concert and in the studio.
(Consequence of Sound)
Previously: Hear Motorhead's edgy cover of David Bowie's 'Heroes' Read the rest
According to Rolling Stone, Motörhead performed David Bowie's 'Heroes' "live only one time, in June 2015, as an encore at Germany's Aftershock festival." Fortunately for us, it was recorded.
The footage, along with some candid shots of (the late-great) Lemmy Kilmister and the band, make up the song's music video:
Lemmy Kilmister, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee liked to do over their years together in Motörhead, was grab a favourite song by another artist and give it a good old fashioned ‘Motörheading’. To run them through the Motörizer if you will. To rock them, roll them and even give them an extra twist and edge.
In celebration of some of those finest moments, the band will release Under Cöver, a collection of some of their best covers, and a collection which will include the previously unreleased version of David Bowie’s timeless classic “Heroes”. Recorded during the Bad Magic sessions in 2015 by Cameron Webb, and was one of the last songs the band recorded together.
“It’s such a great Bowie song, one of his best, and I could only see great things coming out of it from us, and so it proved to be,” says Phil Campbell, “and Lemmy ended up loving our version.”
“He was very, very proud of it,” says Mikkey Dee, “not only because it turned out so well but because it was fun! Which is what projects like this should be – fun!”
Under Cöver will be released on September 1st. Read the rest
Of all of the accolades that Bowie received after his death last January 10th, there was precious little said about his pioneering work on the Internet and the burgeoning World Wide Web. In 1998, he launched Bowie.net and became the first major artist to create his own internet service, to distribute his songs online, to use the Web to offer things like branded/vanity email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and exclusive backstage access to Bowie.net subscribers (using crappy late-90s streaming technology), and to use the Web to communicate directly and collaborate with fans.
In this video clip from 1999, he talks with the BBC's Jeremy Paxman and seems to shock him with what sounds like an alarming prediction about the future of the Internet.
Bowie: I think the potential for what the Internet is going to do for society, both good and bad, is unimaginable. I think we are on the cusp of something both exhilarating and terrifying.
Paxman: It's just a tool, though. Isn't it?
Bowie: No it's not, no. It's an alien life form. [Laughs] Is there life on Mars? YES, and it's just landed here.
[H/t Will Kreth] Read the rest
Last year, a few days after David Bowie died, I posted the following reminiscence/remembrance to my Facebook page. On the anniversary of his death, I thought I might share it here.
It was Friday, November 16, 1973. I was 16 years old. Every Friday night, I would rush home from whatever trouble my friends and I were getting into to watch The Midnight Special, hosted by the howling-prone Wolfman Jack. For a sheltered kid growing up in a small Southern Baptist town outside of Richmond, Virginia, The Midnight Special and Don Kirshner's Rock Concert were my principal means of seeing live-performance rock n' roll.
On this night, the show broadcast David Bowie's 1980 Floor Show, a special that had been recorded in October of 1973 at The Marquee Club in London, but not previously aired. Up to that point, I don't know how much Bowie I'd been exposed to, but it wasn't much. I'd certainly heard “Space Oddity” on the radio, and likely a few other tracks, but my exposure was minimal. And I don't think I'd ever laid eyes on the man until this broadcast.
I was so excited as the show began, but that enthusiasm soon turned to confusion, then outright fear. I saw this....creature that I had no frame of reference to understand. I was looking at some strange and incomprehensible being, the OTHER. The expressive freedom and creativity I saw, the gender fluidity, the flaunted sexuality, it was both seductive and alarming; this pandrogyny felt fundamentally threatening to whatever male heterosexuality I'd been trying so desperately to understand and model. Read the rest
"I glit from one thing to another a lot," said David. "It's like flip, but it's the 70s' version. *sniff*" (Subsequently) Read the rest
Matt Mihaly shares the beautiful David Bowie tribute video compiled from footage Mihaly shot at Burning Man 2016. Read the rest