Tag Archives: Kevin Cann

➤ Burretti movie adds an epic and essential chapter to the Bowie story

Starman, Freddie Burretti, film, biopic, Lee Scriven, David Bowie, Man Who Sewed The World, glam rock, fashion

Connected by “otherness”: In a scoop for the film Starman, Bowie himself gave this unseen 1973 picture of Freddie Burretti wearing his own design for a lush crimson suit to launch the Aladdin Sane album. Both photographs by Masayoshi Sukita

Click to zoom down to Andy Polaris’s film review

◼ BETWEEN 1970 AND 1974 FREDDIE BURRETTI not only became David Bowie’s teenage lover but gave visual expression to the singer’s pop ambition. When they met Bowie was 23 and married to Angie while former Mod face Freddie, with his 28-inch waist and voluptuous long-hair, was as sexy as many another 19-year-old in that moment when David Johansen, Marc Bolan and Bowie were creating what became known as glam rock. But Freddie and David clicked instinctively in what Bowie calls their “otherness”, much of which derived from their sexuality. His career rebirth as an alien on Planet Earth was a masterstroke of pop invention and it was Burretti who created the exotic and brazenly sexual one-piece style of costuming in lush fabrics that we associate with Ziggy Stardust.

A new documentary biopic was previewed in London last night and not only breathes fresh life into familiar Bowie music but pieces together a unique chapter about his personal relationships against the austere climate of Britain in the 70s. Director Lee Scriven captures on film a score of eye-witness accounts, chief among them Freddie’s brother Stephen, his special friend and flatmate Wendy Kirby, his younger It-girl protégée Daniella Parmar, and biographer Kevin Cann.

Freddie Burretti , David Bowie, fashion,

Burretti stripes 1973: Bowie photographed on the Aberdeen express by Mick Rock

Titled Starman: Freddie Burretti – The Man Who Sewed The World, the biopic’s impact is cumulative. Burretti described himself as “just a dress designer” – raised in Hackney, transplanted at 14 to Bletchley in the home counties, then escaping at 18 back to London to live the life – yet by the time the on-screen talking heads arrive at GQ editor Dylan Jones, it becomes clear that a body of opinion today ranks Burretti alongside giants such as Zandra Rhodes, Vivienne Westwood and even Alexander McQueen, whose design talent blossomed more than a decade later.

Indeed, Burretti’s “stylish, yet slightly whimsical approach to tailoring” and the enduring influence of his adventurous cutting in several suits of the moment during 1973–74 is thoroughly acknowledged in the V&A catalogue to its touring exhibition, David Bowie Is. The singer’s blurring of the line between stage wear and day wear persuades an impressive list of high-fashion designers to admit their debt to him, including Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy whose SS2010 show opened with a black-and-white striped blazer in a blatant tribute to the one Bowie was famously photographed wearing on an intercity train in May 1973.

Bowie told Fan magazine in 1974: “Freddie is extremely patient. He just listens to my ideas and has this sort of telepathy, because whatever I think of in my mind he produces for real. I just hope he’ll continue to design incredible clothes for me.”

❏ Up until now very few pictures of Freddie Burretti were known to the public – even the cover of the sex education magazine Curious shown below surfaced in only 2010 with Cann’s chronology of Bowie’s early life, Any Day Now. As the gay liberation movement was gathering momentum in Britain, we see Bowie wearing a floral “man-dress” designed by Savile Row tailor Mr Fish, known for putting Mick Jagger in a frock for the Stones’ 1969 Hyde Park concert. Bowie had two Mr Fish dresses which he wore in 1970 in cover photographs for the album The Man Who Sold the World.

With Starman, Scriven’s company LJS films has scored a major coup. The publicity photo you see up top has never been published before and was given to the project by Bowie himself, showing off Freddie’s good looks, with grey highlights in the hair. Today you’ll come across very few pictures of the gorgeous suit in rich crimson-and-blue velvet with flared crimson trousers created for the launch of the Aladdin Sane album. Its first outing was Bowie’s interview on the Russell Harty TV chat show recorded on 17 January 1973, and in an associated live clip singing Drive-In Saturday.

Uniquely, what Starman has done is to collage together Burretti and Bowie in the crimson suit to simulate a sumptuous set of photos taken that February by Masayoshi Sukita against the glistening art deco interior of Radio City Music Hall in New York. Scriven said: “I have been told Freddie would arrive at studio shoots in advance with the clothes and help the photographer by standing in as a model so he or she could set up the lighting etc ready for Mr Bowie.” Some of the shots play with his mirrored reflection and the collage cleverly echoes the originals.

In the UK an NME headline revealed the new persona, “Goodbye Ziggy, Big Hello to Aladdin”, while at Radio City on 14–15 February Bowie and the Spiders were launching their US tour. One poor black-and-white photograph suggests he might well have been wearing the crimson suit as he helicoptered onto the Music Hall stage. In this 90-minute show Bowie transitioned through the hit songs of Ziggy Stardust to introduce Aladdin Sane and all but one track from the new album – all this, remember, before his official and unexpected “retirement of Ziggy” announcement in London that July. Included in Freddie’s £1,000 invoice for costumes supplied to the tour, Cann’s meticulous book records “Red Check Suit 40 guineas” (about £500 today).

The tragedy is that the Burretti-Bowie partnership ended the next year, over a “financial disagreement”, according to Cann’s book. Immediately, Burretti slipped out of the public eye.

THE NIGHT DAVID MET FREDDIE

, Freddie Burretti, David Bowie, glam rock, man-dress,gay issues,

Curious magazine, 1971: Bowie wears his Michael Fish “man-dress” and plans to create a band called The Arnold Corns to showcase Freddie as “the next Mick Jagger”. In the studio, it turned out that Freddie couldn’t sing

❏ Their affair had begun in 1970 in Kensington’s fashionable gay disco Yours Or Mine beneath the Sombrero restaurant. The Bowies were regulars, and one night David spotted Freddie cutting a dash on the up-lit dancefloor. Angie Bowie crossed the room to ask him and Wendy to join them for a drink.

In an interview with 5years.com Angie said in 2000: “You have no idea how handsome this man was. Freddie was wearing white Spandex hotpants with a navy blue sailors trim and a sailor shirt with short sleeves out of the same white Spandex edged in navy on the collar and sleeves. He looked totally Scandinavian with high cheek-bones and lots of blond hair, but he was tall and had big hands and feet speaking of his artistry and physical stamina. Every night he made new clothes to wear. He was so brilliant.”

At last night’s screening flatmate Wendy also remembered that day: “Angie approached us and asked us to have a drink. We hesitated and that’s what’s missing from the film – our sheer arrogance. We nearly said no!” She added: “Watching the film was quite strange. No one imagines their youth will be portrayed on screen and it was a little unsettling. I think the film was an affectionate glimpse of a time long gone. I didn’t appreciate at the time how talented Freddie really was. Lee’s film brought home how exceptional his work was. I’m proud to have known the man who was ‘just Freddie’ to me.”

Was Bowie’s gay phase in truth a marketing stance, as some argue? In his 2011 biography Starman, Paul Trynka reports American actor Tony Zanetta saying: “He was bisexual, but what he really was, was a narcissist – boys or girls, it was all the same. He was attracted to the gay subculture because he loved its flamboyance. Sometimes it was just an expression of communication – sometimes it was a way of. . . assimilating someone.” Bowie knew exactly what he was doing.

❏ Read on for a review of the film by Andy Polaris, ex-Blitz Kid and 80s pop singer who regards Bowie as one of rock’s serious gods.

➢ Starman director Lee Scriven’s website

“man-dress” , Wendy Kirby, Freddie Burretti, David Bowie, fashion,

Angie and David at home to Freddie: the host wears his Michael Fish designed “man-dress” that was banned from his American album cover for The Man Who Sold the World

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 2011, I danced in Bowie’s lost Jean Genie video, by Wendy Kirby

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 2010, A feast of Bowie-ana served in waffeur-thin slices by Kevin Cann

Last night’s preview: click any pic below to launch slideshow

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
1970, Where to draw a line between glitter and glam

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ANDY POLARIS REVIEWS STARMAN THE MOVIE

Freddie Burretti, Daniella Parmar, fashion,Ziggy Stardust

Bowie’s designer Freddie and It-girl Daniella in about 1971: striking a pose that David and Angie came to emulate

Andy Polaris, singer

Andy Polaris

❏ Starman: The Man Who Sewed The World gives a fascinating insight into the relatively unknown life of fashion future legend Freddie Burretti. This working-class lad had a creative mind able to absorb everything he loved about Mod fashion, having taught himself to make his own clothes at an early age. With enough dedication and focus to learn tailoring as well as the youthful dynamics of the dancefloor, he was obviously adept at observing styles and reworking looks to his own vision.

A chance meeting at the disco lead to the serendipitous collaboration with Bowie and the singer’s as yet not fully realised Ziggy Stardust wardrobe. These bold textured prints and coloured jumpsuits were, and are, extraordinary for capturing Bowie’s otherness at that time. Aladdin Sane prints that looked like Liberty worn by the androgynous male rock star blew our tiny minds back then.

What I loved about the movie was seeing the genesis of Freddie’s glamour vision in a mundanely drab landscape played out with the innocence of his mainly, it appears, female friends notably Wendy bf and Daniella protégée. Wonderful to hear their counterpoint stories of that inner ciricle involved in Bowie’s creation of Ziggy with Freddie’s ascendant talent and confidence.

The pairing of Freddie and Daniella wearing his clothes is groundbreaking. Looking at those photos we see the androgynous beauty of Freddie (like a still from James Bidgood’s 1971 cult movie Pink Narcissus) teamed with Daniella’s Asian complexion and short spiky blonde crop. They had already created David and Angie’s classic image before the rest of the world saw it!

fashion, David Johansen, David Bowie

Coordination of styles, 1973: which came first, Johansen of New York Dolls or Bowie in Burretti suit?

In fact, Daniella also anticipates Ava Cherry singing with Bowie in Young Americans several years later when we note the similar styling – how did that happen?

From my own black perspective, a brown or black face was something I would immediately zone in on, seeing someone like you up there on a stage and hanging out with the stars. Marc Bolan having the black Gloria Jones as his wife was a big bloody deal to some black kids, for sure.

Freddie’s whole look seems to have been adopted wholesale by David Johansen of the New York Dolls, so the influence of this young British designer can today be recognised rippling out into the wider pop culture although it probably wasn’t acknowledged at the time. Maybe a parallel could be drawn between Freddie and Alexander McQueen – both gay and from working-class backgrounds – though McQueen came to work with Bowie as an established star, whereas Freddie created an image that made Bowie a star. Today it is unreal to imagine any designer could achieve such pivotal pop success without a massive team behind them.

➢ Video: Andy Polaris sings Mr Solitaire on Top of the Pops

➢ Follow Andy’s blog APolarisView: one man’s adventures in display and other obsessions

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➤ Ziggy’s 40 fabulous years of being not alone, cos you’re won-der-ful

Ziggy Stardust,Spiders from Mars,David Bowie,albums,anniversary,

Backside of the album that inspired generations: Bowie as the alien Ziggy about to call home from a phone box in Heddon Street, London. (Photography © Brian Ward)

❚ THE KING OF UK POP HITS HIS 40th ANNIVERSARY, just as HM The Queen completes her sixth decade on the throne, but we don’t imagine she planned it that way. The most famous Martian in history landed on Earth on June 6 1972 with the release of his album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars. He created a new breed of quintessentially British pop star and expanded the realm of rock-and-roll by injecting melodrama, fantasy and glitz.

A wistful older generation was yearning for the energy of the 60s. A teen generation faced a paranoid future threatened by nuclear apocalypse. The playfully androgynous Ziggy Stardust astonished both audiences by introducing a knowing sense of decadence rooted in individual style and a repertoire of life-skills to see us through whatever adversity. Laying down a bunch of wonderful melodies, the vocals enunciate the manifesto with clarity throughout — Five Years, Moonage Daydream, Suffragette City especially.

It was a bravura, theatrical strategy for pursuing what you wanted to get out of life, and capitalised on the iconoclasm of the 60s which had subverted society’s traditions of role play and “knowing your place”.

Ziggy himself was an entirely invented persona, an outsider rock-star created by the not-then-famous David Bowie who expressed through Ziggy a grand vision and through the Spiders consummate musicianship — not a note out of place, and Mick Ronson at his most snarlingly brilliant. The album is a pinnacle of arch originality like few others, and its fierce riffs and hooks have influenced almost every innovative performer since.

➢ Review of the album The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust etc at BBC Music — “It sounds like a cliché, but to an entire generation this album has become a yardstick by which to measure all others. Why the hyperbole?

David Bowie, Starman, 1972, Top of the Pops, tipping point, BBC

The moment the earth tilted July 6, 1972: During Starman on Top of the Pops, David Bowie drapes his arm around the shoulder of Mick Ronson. Video © BBC

The 40th-anniversary celebrations and media activity are not entirely industry hype, but genuine tributes to an artist of undoubted genius. None the less, EMI is releasing a compilation of brilliantly remastered tracks on Monday June 4 on both CD and vinyl, and all are available to stream free at the NME which is trailing special features in next week’s issue…

♫ LISTEN at the NME — David Bowie streams a remastered
Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust in full

ONLINE AND ON THE AIRWAVES

Nick Rhodes, Gary Kemp,  Ziggy Changed My Life, 6Music, Radio2,

A picture they once said could never be taken: Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran at the home of Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet, brought together by the radio documentary Ziggy Changed My Life

❏ Not for nothing do the next week’s highlights come from the Ten Alps stable, one of the UK’s leading factual programme-makers. From midnight tomorrow BBC 6 Music kicks off with a two-hour assessment of Ziggy as the Pied Piper who shaped the dreams of Gary Kemp, Nick Rhodes and others. This thoroughly researched doc tells tales from a host of their peers and is recycled in a couple of other slots of more manageable duration…

Click to read Kemp’s article in The Times

➢ Ziggy Changed My Life: full two-hour radio documentary on BBC 6 Music, midnight BST June 2–3 — Songwriter Gary Kemp explains how David Bowie created Ziggy, how the album changed his life and influenced a generation of performers. Guests include: Trevor Bolder, bass player for The Spiders from Mars; Woody Woodmansey, drummer for The Spiders from Mars, Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran, Suzi Ronson, Leee Black Childers, Lindsay Kemp, Kevin Cann, Kris Needs, Ken Scott, Terry Pastor, George Underwood and Anya Wilson.

➢ Ziggy Played Guitar on BBC Radio 2, at 10pm June 6 — Reduced one-hour version of Ziggy Changed My Life

➢ Ziggy Changed My Life — Abridged 23-minute version broadcast last month on BBC World Service and available online at iPlayer “until 1 Jan, 2099”

➢ Inspirational Bowie: clip from 65th birthday broadcast last January on Radio 2 — His influences on Boy George, Peter Hook, Marc Almond, Annie Lennox, Debbie Harry, Guy Garvey, Jarvis Cocker

➢ David Bowie Archive concert (2000) on BBC radio iPlayer — Live in concert at Glastonbury in 2000.

ZIGGY DISSECTED FROM TOP TO TOE

David Bowie, Starman,

“After Starman, everything changed” — Woody Woodmansey, drummer and Spider

➢ Pushing Ahead of the Dame: David Bowie, song by song — incomparable blog by Chris O’Leary

FOUR ESSENTIAL BOOKS ABOUT BOWIE

Man Who Sold the World,David Bowie ,Peter Doggett,books ➢ The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s by Peter Doggett (Bodley Head 2011)

A song-by-song analysis shows how David Bowie embodied a decade. A work of impeccable scholarly exegesis, The Man Who Sold the World is about as far removed from conventional biography as its subject is from run-of-the-mill rock’n’roll. Still, it is hard to imagine another book telling you more of what really matters about David Bowie than this one … / Continued online

Strange Fascination,David Bowie, David Buckley, books ➢ Strange Fascination: David Bowie, The Definitive Story by David Buckley (Virgin 2005)

Written by the only biographer to get his PhD with a thesis on David Bowie, Strange Fascination is an exhaustive chronicle of Bowie’s career as one of rock’s most influential stars. In a combination of interviews, exclusive photographic material and academic analysis, Buckley examines Bowie’s life and music with an unparalleled level of detail. It’s a book written by an unapologetic fan. Buckley is a better writer than any of those to have tackled Bowie to date. If you read only one Bowie book ever, this should be it … / Continued online

Any Day Now, David Bowie,books, Kevin Cann ➢ Any Day Now: David Bowie The London Years (1947–1974) by Kevin Cann (Adelita 2010)

A feast of Bowie-ana served up like La Grande Bouffe, in ever more tempting waffeur-thin slices… 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 … / Continued at Shapersofthe80s

Starman, David Bowie , Paul Trynka ,books ➢ Starman: David Bowie by Paul Trynka (Sphere 2011)

As befits an erstwhile editor of Mojo, Trynka is good on the musical development of a pop star whose early albums, David Bowie (1967) and Space Oddity (1969), were both little more than confused collections of ill-matched songs, and showed little hint of the confidence and brilliance that was to follow. Beginning with Bowie’s childhood as plain David Jones in post-war Brixton, Trynka tells a tale that has perhaps been told too often to surprise any more, but that nevertheless intrigues in its mixture of ruthlessness, shifting loyalties, monumental drug taking, decadent behaviour and, for a while, undiminished musical invention … / Continued online

JUST FOR TRAINSPOTTERS

➢ 65 crazy facts and bizarre myths about Bowie at the Daily Mirror — Did Bowie help start the credit crunch? He certainly says he was moonwalking years before Michael Jackson…

 Kansai Yamamoto ,V&A ,exhibition, British Design, Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie,costumes

Ziggy stage costume: the Japanese fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto described Bowie in 1972 as “neither man nor woman”. This outfit, similar to one worn with a boa in Ziggy’s last performance at Hammersmith Odeon, is currently on show until August 12 in the V&A exhibition, British Design 1948–2012

MORE BOWIE AT SHAPERSOFTHE80S

➢ Where to draw a line between glitter and glam

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

➢ Behind Bowie’s “lost” Jean Genie video

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1965 ➤ Teenage Bowie flashes priceless smile to an amateur cine camera

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❚ HERE’S A FAB GLIMPSE OF DAVID BOWIE in a London street, caught on cine film when he was aged 18. It is newly posted at YouTube by 57-year-old Joe Salama from south-east London. Shapersofthe80s asked Joe about his Bowie connection and he replied: “I suppose I have always been a fan of David Bowie’s music certainly since Hunky Dory when as a youngster I drove a minicab for a while with my Hanimex tape player rigged up to some headphones in my Renault 16. I remember delivering some parts to IBM in Birmingham at night and that album kept me going all the way there and back, thrilled to bits with the sound.

“Regarding the 1960s cine clip, it really was a complete surprise to me and needless to say my late father, who had no idea at the time. This exceptional footage was taken by him on a trip up to the West End of London, totally unaware that David Bowie was the young dude who smiles graciously at the camera. Even when I showed him what he had filmed he was none the wiser and couldn’t remember why he focused on this particular chap. He was trying to film my mum whose face crosses fleetingly behind the great man if you look carefully at the shot. Roughly dated to 1968.”

❏ YouTuber momasu comments: “This is spring 1965, and Davie Jones (as he was still called then) is heading into his favourite cafe on Denmark Street, La Gioconda, possibly after recording demos with his new band The Lower Third at Central Sound Studio next door.”

David Bowie , Davie Jones, Manish Boys, 1960s,Denmark Street, Tin Pan Alley,joesalama,YouTube

Pre-Bowie Davie Jones, aged 18: filmed possibly in Tin Pan Alley, London, by Joe Salama’s father

❏ Judging by the numerous photos in Kevin Cann’s meticulous book Any Day Now, two details pin the date of Joe’s film clip down to the early part of 1965: the giant button-down tab-collar shirt Bowie is wearing, and his hair hanging well over his collar, now parted as he moves on from the “helmet” style seen in the 1964 video below. Under the stage name of Davie Jones he had been singing since the previous July with the six-piece R&B band, The Manish Boys, whose hair-length had caused controversy. They record the single I Pity The Fool — produced by Shel Talmy and with a guitar solo by Jimmy Page — which leads to a TV appearance on BBC2’s Gadzooks in March 1965.

17-YEAR-OLD BOWIE ON THE TONIGHT SHOW IN 1964

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❏ Nov 12, 1964: Kevin Cann’s book reminds us that when Bowie, then known as Davie Jones, appeared on the BBC’s Tonight show (above) campaigning for “The Society for the prevention of cruelty to long-haired men”, it was a publicity-seeking ploy. Nowhere in the interview does he admit that the hairy men around him in the studio are mostly The Manish Boys, on a rare night off from touring southern England. The previous night they’d played the legendary home of British R&B, the Eel Pie Island club in Twickenham, and the next they were at the Witch Doctor in St Leonards-on-Sea (though without Davie). Incidentally, this is not his TV debut as some claim — that was on Juke Box Jury the previous June.

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2012 ➤ Diamond Dogs snarl denial over Bowie / Heroes The Musical

Guy Peellaert’s sci-fi cover for Bowie’s Diamond Dogs album, 1974... That year Elle magazine named the Belgian pop-artist “the Michelangelo of Pop”

➢ Nov 27 Update at davidbowie.com: Following news reports in today’s UK press, such as The Observer, here is the official statement from his spokesman…

Neither the David Bowie Organization, nor its co-publishers EMI Music and Chrysalis, has issued a license for this performance at the O2. There are no negotiations pending for a long-running musical featuring the music of Mr Bowie

❏ Nov 29 update: Julian Stockton at The Outside Organisation confirmed today: “That statement put out by me at the weekend still stands, there has been no change.” When I suggested that his phrase “long-running” doesn’t actually rule out a one-off show, and asked “Are negotiations pending for a one-off musical?” he replied: “To the best of my knowledge no there are not.”

➢ Dec 1 update: A Guardian blog today surmises that Bowie made “the right artistic call” over this jukebox musical, yet no correction to last Sunday’s report has been published or explanation of whether the reporter checked the facts with Bowie’s management.

Heroes the Musical ,website,David Bowie ,Deep Singh, IndigO2,

SORRY, FANS, THIS HEROES SHOW IS A DEAD DUCK

❏ Despite the official denials expressed above, the website for Heroes the Musical is still announcing a performance on Sunday March 11, 2012… and its Facebook page says tickets go on sale 9am January 5. Meanwhile an email from Shapersofthe80s seeking clarification from the producers remains unanswered.

➢ Original report Sunday Nov 27 by Vanessa Thorpe in The Observer newspaper and still online without retraction Monday Nov 28:

“ PLANS HAVE BEEN ANNOUNCED this weekend for the first full-scale musical based on the songs of the totemic British performer David Bowie. A futuristic fantasy called Heroes: The Musical will tell the story of Major Tom, as well as the starman and a “young dude” called David and will have its world premiere in March at the IndigO2, the nightclub venue with a flexible capacity of 2,400 inside London’s former Millennium Dome.

Bowie, who is one of Britain’s most successful songwriters, rarely gives permission for his songs to be used and has never allowed them to be used in this way before. Deep Singh, a former screenwriter who wrote the musical, believes that Bowie gave consent because he emphasised that his story was set in the future and aimed to show the timeless relevance of Bowie’s lyrics.

The villains of Singh’s story are the patrolling Diamond Dogs and the “ruthless Smart Simon” who has created, and now controls, a dystopian empire set in an indeterminate future… / continued online

➢ A feast of Bowie-ana served in waffeur-thin slices
in Kevin Cann’s new book

➢ Discovered last week, a Bowie smile flashed to an amateur
cine camera in 1965

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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 [referenced in the 1980 image which heads Shapersofthe80s] 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

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