Tag Archives: Any Day Now

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


2010 ➤ A feast of Bowie-ana served in waffeur-thin slices

David Bowie, review,Curious magazine, Any Day Now,Brian Ward,Arnold Corns,Man Who Sold The World,Mr Fish,Freddi Burretti, Ziggy Stardust,Yours or Mine,Malcolm Thomson

Candid cover for Curious magazine from 1971: Bowie spotted the dress designer Fred Burrett (aka Rudi Valentino) at the Kensington disco Yours or Mine wearing white spandex hot pants. He became a close friend Bowie determined would be “the next Mick Jagger” in a specially created band called The Arnold Corns. In the event, as Freddi Burretti he made Ziggy Stardust’s outfits from the first quilted jumpsuit onward… Bowie here drags up in the Mr Fish “man-dress” that appears on the sleeve for The Man Who Sold The World — one of many mementoes in Any Day Now, Kevin Cann’s new book about Bowie. Photographed © by Brian Ward

❚ DAVID BOWIE HAS BEEN THE SINGLE MOST INFLUENTIAL FORCE IN POPULAR MUSIC SINCE [Fill in the benchmark of your choice, eg:] Mozart/ Schubert/ Marie Lloyd/ Gershwin/ Little Richard/ Sondheim/ Spinal Tap. In which case, this Christmas there can be no better present for anybody with the slightest interest in the godlike creator of Ziggy Stardust than Kevin Cann’s new photobook Any Day Now, The London Years 1947-1974 (Adelita, £25).

It is impossible adequately to acknowledge the trainspotterish, yet deeply rewarding scope of this sheer labour of love that has amassed 850 pictures — friends, lovers, costumes, contracts, doodles, laundry bills, performances, candid snaps — on 336 pages. Why, it even has a backstage photo I’ve never seen of the day I met Bowie at the London Palladium when he sang Space Oddity for charity (and met the cult ukulele player Tiny Tim, going on to record one of his B-sides, Fill Your Heart, on Hunky Dory).

This book is a feast of Bowie-ana served up like La Grande Bouffe, in ever more tempting waffeur-thin slices. Cann is a veteran chronicler of the pop star’s work and here neither attempts a long-form biography, nor detracts from Nicholas Pegg’s much more musically appreciative survey, The Complete David Bowie, last updated in 2006. Any Day Now is more a chronology that feels as if it has an entry for every day in the star’s first three decades, running to 140,000 words (original interviews, press reports, eye-witness accounts), all diced and dispersed through the calendar. Contributions include a foreword by Kenneth Pitt, Bowie’s gifted manager 1967-1970.

Any Day Now, Kevin Cann, Adelita

Early cover designs for Any Day Now, publicised during the past year. At centre, the Palladium performance of Space Oddity

A typical spread [see below] might contain six images and as many short items, some of which are set in a font so small as to demand a magnifying glass for reading. An efficient index helps you to pick your topic and start panning for gold.

So for example, the “seminal” filmed version of Space Oddity, Bowie’s biggest hit, that has been exhumed then forgotten four times in the past 40 years, is finally accounted for in all its charmingly improvised glory. Since 2005, we have been able nonchalantly to click on YouTube to view this paradigm of all pop videos dating from before the word was invented. Yet originally it was a mere segment in a half-hour TV film about Bowie titled Love You Till Tuesday (LYTT) and directed by Malcolm Thomson.

While America was testing its first unmanned Apollo Lunar Module in 1968, the Space Oddity segment was of course inspired by that year’s visionary 70mm movie release, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey. Cann’s chronology documents Thomson filming what Bowie evidently intended as a tongue-in-cheek spoof from its conception in Oct ’68 to wrap in Feb ’69. Bowie wrote the song itself, a forelorn meditation on love and fame, as his own love-life was falling apart and after viewing the Kubrick film “while stoned” (allegedly) that January, six months before the first Moon landing.

Ultimately in a studio in Greenwich, Bowie dons a barely-plausible zip-up silver space suit, blue visored helmet and Major Tom breast-plate while Samantha Bond and Suzanne Mercer as Barbarella-esque astro angels (more ’68 iconography), flaunting ludicrous blonde wigs and diaphanous gowns, simulate weightlessness among inflatable plastic furniture. It’s a modest little dig at Swinging 60s ephemera to set beside Barbarella, Blow-up and the incomparable Modesty Blaise.

Despite the single spending 14 weeks in the charts in 1969 and reaching No 5, Cann reports, TV networks showed “no interest” in the film, LYTT, containing this musical jewel, so it did not have its first public airing until 1972, on the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test. It then vanished until 1975 and the re-issue of Space Oddity when the clip was supplied as a promo to broadcasters, which doubtless helped the song’s progress to No 1 in the charts. Even then, the film clip did not receive a release until an album of same name, LYTT, came along in 1984. We then had an even longer wait until a DVD release in 2005 delivered the remastered version we enjoy today.

Not many people know this, 1 – In the same month, Feb 1969, Bowie auditioned for the hippy stage musical Hair! Twice! [Any Day Now, page 146]

Not many people know this, 2 – The book’s timeline ends in 1974 because Bowie left the UK on March 29 that year, aged 27, and has never resumed residency here since. Sob! Onboard the SS France bound for New York, the harmonica legend and Gershwin protege Larry Adler gives a recital. When the crew hear that Bowie is not going to do likewise while aboard and express their disappointment, Bowie gives them an impromptu performance in the canteen: 10 songs including Space Oddity. A few crew members took instruments and they played with him. What a jam session that must have been!

Any Day Now, Bowie, Kevin Cann,Kon-rads,Bowie

Spread from Any Day Now, the new book about Bowie’s formative years: here seen in his David Jones era when he formed his first band the Kon-rads at the age of 15

Melissa Alaverdy,Lindsay Kemp,Bowie , Any Day Now, Kevin Cann, Adelita

Another spread from Any Day Now, designed by Melissa Alaverdy: Bowie learning white-faced mime under Lindsay Kemp

Melissa Alaverdy , Any Day Now, Kevin Cann, Adelita,Bowie,Beatles

Another spread from Any Day Now, designed by Melissa Alaverdy: Bowie is seen here with Yellow Submarine-era Beatles

➢ Why there will never be another David Bowie — Caspar Llewellyn-Smith says Lady Gaga has got it wrong if she thinks the Thin White Duke’s brilliance comes down merely to striking a decent pose (from The Observer, Oct 10, 2010)

➢ Review in the Guardian: Two Bowie biographies shed new light on the career of pop’s greatest chameleon, but the man himself remains elusive