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2012 ➤ If David Jones hadn’t become Bowie what would have become of the rest of us?

What, me, pensioner? David Bowie and his wife the supermodel Iman attend the DKMS Annual Gala in New York City last April. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty)

David Bowie, 65th birthday, New Romantics, Ziggy Stardust, glam-rock
❚ HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR BOWIE. And thanks for the boggling, inspirational, poptastic ride so far —140 million albums sold and the rules of rock rewritten. You will be the genie waiting at the end of time. Boy George has this to say in his foreword to Graham Smith’s new book on 80s clubland, named after David Bowie’s song We Can Be Heroes: “Of the New Romantic moment I have always said, It was all Bowie’s fault.” What he refers to is the Bowie bequest to the teen generations he entertains. As a cultural lightning rod he has bequeathed insights into the realm of the imagination. As a performer he has delivered a repertoire of life-skills through a cast of mythical personalities invented for himself as a popstar, from the self-destructive Ziggy Stardust and the amoral Thin White Duke, to his romanticised “Heroes” (his own quote marks added to emphasise self-awareness). Through their formative years, Bowie invited his acolytes:

✰ to explore identity, androgyny, the primacy of the visual.

✰ to adopt stances: individualism, alienation, decadence, transgression.

✰ to follow his principles for living amusing lives: disposable identities, portable events, looks not uniforms, tastelessness “on purpose”.

David Bowie, Heroes,His signature tune, “Heroes”, still echoes today as a heart-stirring anthem because he was passionate and optimistic and musically this number is brimming with awe. He sang about intimacy and love triumphing over the horrors of the outside world. Finding joy in simple pleasures could make heroes of us all, “just for one day”. As a creed to live by, it has underpinned his own life. “I’m an instant star,” he said. “Just add water and stir.”

Were he still living in the UK, today’s birthday would designate him, in the idiom, “an old-age pensioner”, and the state would pay him slightly more than the five shillings a week handed over when the scheme began 100 years ago. He can’t be 65, you’re saying as you inspect the picture of him and his wife Iman [above] at a leukemia charity gala in New York last year. He looks too good for 65. “Waddayamean?” he’d be bound to snap, flinging back the old feminist line, “This is how 65 looks in the 21st century.”

True, if you start young, break the rules and push yourself to the max, as all geniuses do. While in short trousers, the little suburban Londoner David Jones was nothing if not prolific. At 11 he was playing a skiffle bass, buying and collecting the NME for future reference, learning the sax at 13 and soon moving up through a succession of bands: Konrads, Hookers, King Bees, Manish Boys, Lower Third, Buzz, and Riot Squad.

At school he fell under the spell of an art teacher, Owen Frampton, whose own son Peter went on to musical fame. Bowie has said: “I went to one of the first art-oriented high schools in England, where one could take an art course from the age of 12. Three-fourths of our class actually did go on to art school.”

Everybody knows how this liberal education shaped his outsider stance, how he redefined glam-rock, and how his incarnation as Ziggy Stardust made him an international star and one of the most iconoclastic forces in 70s music. How much more fun though to celebrate a grand milestone by looking back to the earliest expressions of that genius and to wonder aloud how else might the talents of the young David Jones have developed? Today, we find whole chapters of his formative experiments on video online, from mime artist and music-hall hoofer, to actor and fin-de-siècle soothsayer. In all the springboard moments pictured in the slideshow above, Bowie is no older than 24. At any moment the fickle finger of fate could as easily have pointed in any number of directions…

➢ VIEW a dozen video turning points
in David Bowie’s early career 1965–1974


In 1969 Bowie’s manager Kenneth Pitt proposed to showcase his talents by producing a half-hour film called Love You Till Tuesday. The compilation showcased tracks from his 1967 debut album, plus a spanking new song, Space Oddity, which introduced Major Tom and became his first hit. Cleverly anticipating the first Nasa Moonwalk in 1969, the filming for this number pastiches Stanley Kubrick’s cine-epic premiered the previous year. It effectively proposed what today we call the promo video which, as Kevin Cann reveals in his exhaustive 2010 Bowie biography Any Day Now, remained substantially unseen by the public until its release as a clip in 1984. The whole half-hour showreel went online for the first time only yesterday…


David Bowie , William Burroughs

1973: Bowie is interviewed for Rolling Stone with novelist Wiliam Burroughs and photographed by Terry O’Neill


David Bowie , Liz Taylor, Terry O'Neill

1975: Bowie meets Hollywood legend Liz Taylor. Photographed by Terry O’Neill


David Bowie , Yoko Ono, John Lennon, Grammys

1975: At the Grammys, Bowie upstages Yoko Ono and John Lennon — one day he gets jamming with David in a studio and turns a lick into the song Fame


➢ Radio 2’s clips from Inspirational Bowie at iPlayer — Marc Almond: “I climbed over the orchestra pit and David Bowie took my hand. He sang Give me your hand in Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide and it was an epiphany”

➢ Happy 65th Birthday Bowie: BBC 6Music audience curates a playlist of favourite tracks, on iPlayer until Jan 13


➤ Boy George gives another interview about me, me, me and la-la land

Boy George, George O’Dowd,interview,The Observer,mother, sexuality,outsider,shame,drag,jail,

Boy George: still pouting. Photograph by Magnus Hastings for The Observer

❚ SIX THINGS WE HAVE LEARNED from today’s 2,000-word interview in The Observer Magazine:

1 — George O’Dowd opens his mind the way others open their front door. Not that he answers everything – but he has an unusual emotional honesty.

2 — He recognises the strange dichotomy of drag. “You are wearing a mask, but on the other hand trying to draw attention, so it’s a kind of Look at me, don’t look at me.”

3 — In 2009 he was jailed in Britain after a bizarre case involving the false imprisonment of a 29-year-old Norwegian male escort… Does he have an instinctive emotional response to the episode – perhaps regret or guilt or shame? “No, I don’t think about any of those specifics.”

4 — “When it was time to [leave jail] I was thinking: Oh my God, I’ve got to go out of here and deal with my life. I am not sure I want to leave!”

5 — George loves and admires his mum hugely but steered clear when he was messed up. She saw through him and he couldn’t take the scrutiny.

6 — Only after his father’s death did [his family] achieve a real unity. “I think his death got everyone back together… I think we are a better family than we have ever been. In the past, everyone would turn up for a crisis. Now, we all turn up for dinner.”

➢ Read Catherine Deveney’s full interview with Boy George
at The Observer online

➢ Turn 2 Dust — a second package of reggae mixes, including this music video mix, is due to be released on Dec 12


➤ Big Tone Hadley feeling good(-ish) as his Australia tour kicks off

❚ LAST NIGHT IT WAS HOBART, TASMANIA, the first of eight dates in Australia for Tony Hadley and His Band, with John Keeble on drums and Go West sharing the bill. Facebook is awash with admiration from his fans down-under and he’s sounding pretty relaxed covering Feeling Good in the video shot by sabathiel01 (above) … We’re not sure what was eating Tony in the “losing-it” moment caught by Nyree Yali (below), while guitarist Richie Barrett didn’t know which way to jump!

➢ Update Oct 26: interview with Western Weekender in Penrith, NSW — “I decided to get together with my old mates from Go West because we’ve worked together before and been great friends for a long time,” Tony said. “People like to see musicians and singers mix together and have a good time, so they’ll be doing all their hits, I’ll be doing all my hits, plus maybe a song or two from my forthcoming album. I’m a big fan of bands like the Kaiser Chiefs and The Killers, so there’ll be some interesting covers in there as well,” he said.

➢ “Spandau Ballet made some crucial mistakes in America in the 80s” Tony tells The West Australian, Oct 5. “You can’t just have a hit there — you have to tour and back it up. We had a big cult following there but never followed it up. I took my band there this year and the reviews were first class, which is what I wanted. Now the agents are calling so we’ll work with that.”

➢ Upcoming dates for Tony Hadley and His Band include Nov 12 Abu Dhabi, Dec 1 Hamburg O2, and Dec 2 Berlin O2

➢ Reviews and videos of Tony’s first US solo tour in August at Shapersofthe80s and a few interview squibs as he said Good morning America!

➢ Convivial music and chat interview with Paul “Goffy” Gough in conversation with Tony Hadley when his 10-piece band played before 1,300 guests at the 8th annual Oyster Festival in Sedgefield, County Durham, on Sep 16, 2011. Lessons learned in life? “Don’t get the lawyers involved. It was an expensive way to learn about English civil law. I can laugh about it now. It cost me an absolute arm and a leg.”

Hobart, Tasmania, live concert,Tony Hadley, pop music

Hadley in Hobart: At Facebook, Vivien Cumberland asks, “What’s going on here? Looks like poor Richie is going to get a smack in the face.” Nyree Yali, who took this pic, says, “I don’t know, LOL. Tony was pulling this face & my camera cooperated at just the right time to capture it. Looks like Richie’s thinking, WTF are you doing???”

❏ iPAD, TABLET & MOBILE USERS PLEASE NOTE — You may see only a tiny selection of items from this wide-ranging website about the 1980s, not chosen by the author. To access fuller background features and site index either click on “Standard view” or visit on a desktop computer. ➢ Click here to visit a different random item every time you click


➤ Lux’s first official video: Morrissey meets The Monkees

❚ THE FIRST OFFICIAL VIDEO from the north London band Lux marks an impressive leap forward in musical confidence since their live debut in April. Though they call themselves an indie band, they are not guitar-led. Three nimble but self-effacing instrumentalists play second fiddle to the willowy male vocalist whose ethereal yearning defines a Lux tune and shapes the band’s signature. The languorous melodies are driven by Jesse Burgess, who would be gazing at his shoes if he’d come from anywhere north of the M25.

His wayward, mildly shouty delivery hints at Marc Almond, and nods towards Morrissey’s wistful introspection as the vowels stretch and float o-o-o-o’er vales and hills. It feels as if the tunes are improvised by the singer jumping aboard a lyric and treating it like an ethereal surfboard, half steering, half hoping for some turbulence his voice can mould into a theme…

Yet where the young Morrissey’s voice was informed by the pain of damaged romancing, Jesse’s is lighter, tentative and entirely innocent, that of the romantic virgin who has yet to distinguish tactics from emotions. Lux’s singer is required to withdraw into his solitude, like a latterday Greta Garbo, the ice-maiden of 1930s Hollywood movies who famously declared “I just want to be let alone”.

indie punk,soul music, Jesse Burgess, Too Late to Fight ,wearelux,lux-band,

Lux vocalist Jesse Burgess: “I just want to be let alone”. Photograph by Shapersofthe80s

He does not sing of the usual teen dreams that guarantee chart hits. Lux’s two best songs do not embrace affairs of the heart. The studiously abstract lyrics to their first single Too Late to Fight — slated for an EP release soon — fret over mistakes and hesitations within unspecified friendships. “There’s no escape, I need some solitude,” Jesse sings. Nothing so poetic as Morrissey’s “running rings round a fountain”, Lux lines are open to as many interpretations as people in the room. Another neatly self-aware song titled Too 17 recognises how speedily we leave one phase of teendom while knowing we face a couple more years of shedding tears before life falls into place.

So it may seem shrewd that the video for Too Late to Fight gives this song a playful visual treatment to assure teen audiences that the soulmates in the band are actually an unstuffy bunch of regular lads. Its production does, however, come from the school of Blue Peter DIY and sends out mixed messages. When the four-piece are making cool sounds onstage or in a studio, they are as focused as any of the mentors their rhythm guitarist and songwriter Fin Kemp says he admires: Blur, Libertines, Arctics. The singer Jesse has described Lux as “indie with a bit of bluesy American soul.” Like the White Stripes? “Yep. Well, not as cool as them.”

In fact, off-stage, not cool at all. The video intermittently cuts to the lads larking around in the carefree suburban streets and parks of London NW6. They gurn to the camera like the hammiest kind of pop group invented with the Monkees in the Swinging 60s. TV fans of Jesse Burgess, whose second career is modelling, have discovered his penchant for flashing his bare bum in E4’s reality series Dirty Sexy Things — and this video predictably obliges.

Such horseplay points them onwards into the valley of pop. This video makes no attempt to reflect the songwords or the often affecting plaintiveness of the vocals. Yet the closing sequence does declare some indie intent. We find the four musicians engaged in giving a tight live performance and by now we can appreciate their sound as intriguing and memorable. Lux music has more personality than the individuals seen making it — which is curiously reassuring.

Lux’s own website says: “Their sound has been described as indie punk soul.” Three admirable goals.


➤ Crooner Bennett defers to the rootsy tigress that was Amy Winehouse

❚ IT’S PRETTY CLEAR who is the jazz singer in this much-anticipated video (above), released today. The old croaker Tony Bennett may be the last living legend in the crooner tradition, but he is utterly outclassed by the astonishing retro inflections of Amy Winehouse. She was his fan, so the 1930 standard Body and Soul, written for another showbiz legend Gertrude Lawrence, makes a noble epitaph for Amy. However, look to any number of earlier performances on video to appreciate the full measure of her sinuous, soulful, contralto voice, her body and her soul. She sang, as the Guardian obituary said, “as if her heart were damaged beyond repair”. Watch, as one example, her live acoustic version of Love is a Losing Game in 2007 (below) through to its ineffable conclusion.

Amy Winehouse Foundation launches
on her 28th birthday

➢ From today’s Daily Telegraph:
The Winehouse family have launched the foundation to mark what would have been the singer’s 28th birthday. Her mother Janis said: “We want to give money to projects that make a direct difference. It is a source of great comfort to know that Amy would be proud of this.”

One of the first major sources of income for the Amy Winehouse Foundation will be from her duet with Tony Bennett, which is released today. It was given its first play on the Ken Bruce show on Radio 2 this morning. Winehouse’s father Mitch said: “Amy was very generous and we kept coming back to the thought of how much she loved children. It seemed appropriate that the focus of our work should be with young people, those who are vulnerable either through ill health or circumstance.

Amy’s last studio recording

Amy Winehouse , Back to Black, albums, best-sellers,❏ The duet with her 85-year-old hero Tony Bennett, and titled Body and Soul, was Amy’s last recording. Released today by Columbia Records, the song was laid down on March 23 at Abbey Road Studios in London for Bennett’s upcoming Duets II album.

Amy was found dead at her flat in north London on July 23. Her critically acclaimed second album Back to Black, produced by Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi, was much more Motown-flavoured R&B than her jazz-influenced debut, Frank, which won an Ivor Novello Award and prompted Billboard to describe her voice as “astounding”. Released in 2006, Back to Black reached No 1 several times in the UK, No 7 in the US, and yielded five hit singles aching with explicit and heartfelt lyrics, most notably Rehab. Renewed demand during the past month sent it back to No 1 to become the UK’s best-selling album of the 21st century.