Tag Archives: Space Oddity

➤ Bowie TV trilogy triumphs thanks to candour and a few tears

David Bowie,pop music, TV documentary, review,

Bowie’s search for identity: the hippy look for the Hunky Dory sleeve 1971 and red-haired alien for Space Oddity 1972. (Photos by Brian Ward and Mick Rock)

WHAT AN EYE-OPENER! Nine failed bands in eleven years of struggle before David Bowie emerged as a star. “He was no Marcel Marceau,” said his mentor and lover Lindsay Kemp of David’s attempts at mime. Saturday’s TV doc Bowie Finding Fame directed by Francis Whately was chock-full of jaw-droppingly frank evaluations by all his pals and workmates from his earliest days in music. Among the kindest was his girlfriend in 1968 Hermione Farthingale who said: “He was actually 21 and looked about eight. . . He wasn’t lost, but he wasn’t found either”. For 90 minutes Bowie’s own voiceover was disarmingly full of insight too and this episode proved probably the‬ most moving of the three.

And today comes a thorough and informative appreciation of this the latest landmark documentary about Bowie’s early life in a review published by Andy Polaris, Eighties singer with Animal Nightlife, at his website APolarisView. As a fan utterly in thrall at a formative age to Bowie’s charisma, Andy brings personal insights to the final doc in Whately’s consummate trilogy for the BBC, following on from David Bowie: Five Years (2013) and The Last Five Years (2017), both being repeated live tonight from 11.15pm (despite the confusion in newspaper listings guides), and subsequently viewable on iPlayer.

Andy also adds further essential points of reference to the Bowie story omitted from the new biopic, possibly because, as its series consultant and Bowie chronicler Kevin Cann has explained this week, the production team ultimately had to exclude masses because of time limitations: “Sadly there are a few fabulous interviews we made that we couldn’t fit in – all important in their own way. . . At one point we had close on a three-hour edit. We were basically overwhelmed with options at times – and that’s exactly why future generations, I’m sure, will never be bored of this man’s immense talent. He will never cease to impress.” Another gem they discovered was the complete Russell Harty TV interview from 1973: “. . . the whole Bowie section, interview and song performances. Even though ITV erased their original master a year or two after original broadcast, the recording we have still belongs to them, so its immediate future is yet to be decided.”

➢ Meanwhile here’s an excerpt from Andy’s blog
APolarisView where he reviews Saturday’s superb doc,
Finding Fame, which starts in the mid-Sixties:

Swinging 80s, Andy Polaris,TV review, David Bowie Finding Fame,,singer,pop music,

Polaris: surprised

I came away admiring Bowie more as an artist due to his single-minded pursuit to achieve his goal and establish a career in the arts. Eleven years (which brought massive cultural changes generally) and nine different bands failed to launch his career. With such limited rewards most people would have fallen at the second or third hurdle and contemplated a different choice of career. A lot of the bands I had heard of, but the film surprised me by exhuming the music of Riot Squad (a name sounding more like a later oi/skinhead band) where he spent eight weeks as their singer in 1967.

Bowie learned quickly to jettison anyone or thing that stood in the way of his mission and made sure that he was front and centre of the action. Early associates talk of how he was the driving force behind stage performances, style and presentation and how to stand out from the crowd.

Whately’s biopic marks the first time I can remember hearing about the inspiration for Letter to Hermione (a beautiful song on Space Oddity) in a filmed interview where his former girlfriend talks candidly about their love affair and the aftermath of their break-up. In a rare moment of personal confession it reveals the crushing effect it had on David at the time and he wanted her to forever realise the hurt. . . / Continued at APolarisView

➢ Bonus clips at the BBC’s programme website:
Of the surplus footage researched for Finding Fame, Kevin Cann reports that My Death survives in full, as does the whole interview. As also does probably 90% of the 1970 Glastonbury set. “Just in case you haven’t seen them, here are some of the brief edits that came out along the way. There are many more and I hope, over time, more is made available.”

WHAT THE TV CRITICS SAID OF FINDING FAME

➢ “Whately arguably does get closer to who the flesh and blood David Jones really was than anyone has previously, largely thanks to securing interviews with an elusive cousin and a just as elusive first love” – The Arts Desk

➢ “Still think of Bowie as the last word in cool? You’ve obviously forgotten his novelty single about gnomes, his dire mime days… and his cover of Chim Chim Cher-ee” – Guardian TV review

➢ “The BBC’s ‘talent selection group’ had dismissed Bowie as ‘devoid of personality’ (ah, the irony). Yet Bowie doubled down and worked harder” – The Times review

➢ “One of the most miraculous things about Bowie is that he didn’t wind up as a drama teacher in Bromley” – Sunday Times Culture

➢ “Fascinating insight into the young singer’s quest for fame and his evolutionary struggle to burst out of suburbia” – The Telegraph review

➢ View David Bowie: Five Years (2013) at the iPlayer

➢ View David Bowie: The Last Five Years (2017) at the iPlayer

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➤ A sensational portrait of Bowie as the man who shaped our responses to an age of shattered dreams

David Bowie, genius, pop music, obituary, Major Tom, The Economist, alienation, annihilation, 1970s, Space Oddity, music videos, Apollo 11,

1969: “This is Ground Control to Major Tom / You’ve really made the grade / And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear”

➢ Today’s issue of The Economist pulls out the plum – a superb obituary casting David Bowie as a wonderful epitome of alienation who saw a way through the world’s fears of imminent annihilation:

IN JULY 1969 men walked on the moon, a technological leap all but unthinkable 50 years before. Three years later they abandoned it, and have renounced all return ever since. What boosters saw as the great opening act of the space age turned out to be, in effect, its culmination. Within a few years presidential corruption, economic stagnation, military ignominy and imagined catastrophe had warped post-war America’s previously impervious belief in progress, a belief that had resonance across the then free world. After Apollo, the future would never again be what it used to be.

The Economist, Space Oddity, David Bowie,tributes, David Bowie’s greatest years began nine days before Apollo 11 touched down in the Sea of Tranquillity, with the release of his single Space Oddity; they ended 11 years later, with the single Ashes to Ashes. Over that decade he used imagined futures to turn himself into something contradictory and wonderful — an epitome of alienation with whom the alienated flocked to identify. In doing so, he laid bare one of the key cultural shifts of the 1970s: the giving up of past dreams. . . / Continued online

“In Space Oddity Major Tom, floating in a most peculiar way, had been an isolated spaceman;
by Ashes to Ashes his isolation was a junkie’s”
– The Economist

David Bowie, genius, pop music, obituary, Major Tom, The Economist, alienation, annihilation, 1980s, Ashes to Ashes, music videos,

1980: “Ashes to ashes, funk to funky / We know Major Tom’s a junkie / Strung out in heaven’s high / Hitting an all-time low”

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: “I’m not a rock star” Bowie often said – No, David, you were a messiah

OVER TO YOU, MAJOR TIM:

➢ Update on the first Friday of the new era AD (After David), Britain’s first official astronaut Major Tim Peake takes his first walk outside the International Space Station

International Space Station, ESA, NASA, British, astronaut,Union Jack,

2016: The British astronaut Major Tim Peake – sporting the Union Jack on his shoulder – takes his first spacewalk at 2pm today from the International Space Station (via NASA Television)

NOT FORGETTING COMMANDER CHRIS HADFIELD


❏ This is the cover version Bowie called “possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created”, recorded by Commander Chris Hadfield on board the International Space Station in 2013.

Today’s hits on mainstream media!

➢ Tim Peake on live NASA Television

➢ David Bowie Breaks Adele’s Vevo record

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➤ “I’m not a rock star” Bowie often said – No, David, you were a messiah

David Bowie, death, obituaries, tributes, rock music, Man Who Fell to Earth, media, videos, films,

A humanoid alien comes to Earth with a mission… What a spooky coincidence that David Bowie played the alien Thomas Jerome Newton in the 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth

David Bowie, death, obituaries, tributes, rock music, TheTimes, UK, newspapers

Today’s Times: the masks and the man behind them

◼ ALL 10 BRITISH NATIONAL NEWSPAPERS filled their front pages today with the death of David Bowie at 69 – and so did scores of newspapers overseas. The last pop star whose death justified such deification was Jacko in 2009; and the last British pop star to do likewise was John Lennon, in 1980. The Times of London dedicated 18 pages including an outer broadsheet wrapper to honouring Bowie, plus an editorial comment as blessing. The Guardian topped that with 20 pages, plus the most enlightened editorial comment of them all. Not only did this misfit megastar and cultural icon radiate consummate flair as a performer but he displayed “an instinctive affinity with his times”. He had a “way with the zeitgeist”.

All media, notably social media, captured the dominant sentiment of generations of fans suddenly plunged into mourning. Again and again they claimed: He changed my life. . . He taught me how to be myself. . . David was my inspiration. . . David was my tutor. And most could quote their own favourite song lyric expressing their faith: Oh no, love – you’re not alone. . . Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it. . . It’s only for ever, not long at all. . . All you’ve got to do is win. . . We can be heroes just for one day.

David Bowie, death, obituaries, tributes, rock music, front pages,media, newspapers

Blanket coverage: Bowie on all UK front pages… Image updated 14 Jan to include news magazines

➢ ‘THE WORLD HAS LOST AN ORIGINAL’ DECLAREs THE GUARDIAN – MORE OBITUARIES AND KEY VIDEOS INSIDE AT SHAPERS OF THE 80S

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➤ Now David Bowie’s landlady tells her story of the lodger from Mars

David Bowie , Mary Finnigan, book, pop music, biography, Psychedelic Suburbia, 1969, Space Oddity, Beckenham Arts Lab,

David Bowie at home in Beckenham in 1969, where he became the lodger and lover of Mary Finnigan. (Photo by Ray Stevenson/Rex)

◼ AS A STRUGGLING FOLK SINGER David Bowie was 22 years old and living with his parents in south-east London when, by chance, he met journalist Mary Finnigan, eight years his senior, and moved into her flat in Foxgrove Road, Beckenham, where she lived with her two children from an early marriage.

They became lovers and launched a successful folk club which became the iconic Beckenham Arts Lab at The Three Tuns pub (now a Zizzi restaurant) on the High Street. Mary’s new book, Psychedelic Suburbia, offers new insights about Bowie in 1969, the year in which his first single Space Oddity reached the pop charts. Today The Independent runs a fabulously revealing extract:

We do not observe landlady-lodger conventions. I am happy with this arrangement – we share tincture of cannabis and Lucy’s deliveries of high-quality hashish. We share the space, cook and eat together. And a few days after he moves in, David and I sleep together.

The seduction is a work of art and takes me totally by surprise, when I come home one Saturday evening after a shift at The Sunday Times (edited in those days by my friend and journalistic mentor, Harry Evans). Usually I return to a messy kitchen and a sink full of dishes, showing evidence of baked beans, fried egg and tomato ketchup. But on this occasion, interesting cooking smells greet my arrival, the kitchen is clean and tidy, with the table laid for two plus flowers, candles and incense. The kids are fed, washed and tucked up in bed.

After a spliff and a nice dinner, David creates a nest of cushions on the floor of his room. He settles me into it and places speakers close to my ears on each side. Then he plays me a selection of his current favourite musical influences. Some are obscure, others well known – Jacques Brel, for example, and mind-blowing stereo phasing from Jimi Hendrix. . . / Continued at The Independent online

David Bowie , Mary Finnigan, book, pop music, biography, Psychedelic Suburbia, 1969, Space Oddity, Beckenham Arts Lab,

Friend, lover and landlady: Mary Finnigan and her personal new book about living with Bowie

“ Living from hand to mouth, David also does
casual shifts from time to time at Legastat, a copying office in central London ”
– Bowie as a Brook Street temp ?!?!

David Bowie , Mary Finnigan, book, pop music, biography, Psychedelic Suburbia, 1969, Space Oddity, Beckenham Arts Lab,
➢ Psychedelic Suburbia: David Bowie and the Beckenham Arts Lab by Mary Finnigan (£14.95, Jorvik Press) out now

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: Weird and wonderful new Bowie – his Blackstar man is set to blow our minds, this Thursday

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➤ Magic! A million views up for Commander Chris sitting in his tin can singing Bowie

❚ SEE HOW PLANET EARTH IS BLUE! Wow how the stars look very different today, rising in the black void! Thrill to the International Space Station whizzing over clouds in a most spectacular way! Here’s a video made by a station commander, sitting in his tin can singing the defining Bowie hit from 1969, the year man went to the Moon. What a way to inspire new generations of would-be space explorers, sung 230 miles above the earth by one of the latest successors to Major Tom.

Last night, this wondrous HD video cover version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity was posted on YouTube by Commander Chris Hadfield on board the space station, which is the largest artificial body in orbit. Viewed at full-screen, its pin-sharp photography combines poetry and awe and speed and perspective and human scale more honestly than any special-effects movie. Seeing stars rise over a black horizon fixed in their constellations itself fixes the vehicle firmly in the firmament of space, while beneath the Great Big World Keeps On Turning. This alone is a magical moment of unparalleled apprehension.

“With deference to the genius of David Bowie, here is Space Oddity, recorded on Station,” he tweeted. “A last glimpse of the World.” 
Overnight his personal post has clocked a million views, quite apart from scores of other media postings. It was Hadfield’s parting act for the digital media on the eve of his return to Earth today after nearly five months in zero-gravity. And Bowie replied with the tweet “Hallo spaceboy”.

Commander Chris, a former Royal Canadian Air Force fighter pilot, was the first Canadian astronaut to walk in space. On December 19, he took off for a long-duration stay on board the ISS as part of Expedition 35. He is the first Canadian to command the space station and its six staff. And now, as the song goes, it’s time to leave the capsule …

CLICK ANY PIC TO LAUNCH CAROUSEL:

➢ British astronaut Piers Sellers recalls the unique smell of space

➢ Technology made simple – 18 TED talks from astronauts, including Chris Hadfield

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