David Bowie. A fan and friends remember.

Last week due to unforeseen circumstance I had to write about Bowie in ways I wasn’t expecting. Out of respect I’ve let that sit for a week…this is the blog I would have liked to initially post…

 I said to myself. A few minutes later the first tears of many that day arrived.

Around 10 minutes after hearing the news of Bowies passing I discovered an email saying I’d been accepted to university for my BA hons in Drama and Script, something I’d wanted to do since childhood (I’m 46 years old at this particular earth moment). My emotions were now properly roller coasting. My mum who’s now 81 and as decent a Christian type as you’ll meet anywhere said, “That’s David Bowie leaving the planet and passing on some of his life to you.” Yes my mum is awesome. Sometimes she IS Ziggy Stardust. Obviously such a lovely statement didn’t help stem the flow of tears on my 3 hour journey home to Newcastle.

The first message I got was from an old school friend Yanthe. She texted direct to say she was “Blubbing like a bairn.” Next a lot of old friends started to message on Facebook, many remarking on how on hearing the news they immediately thought of me. It was nice to have my life long devotion to him recognised. You should understand that by the time I was 13 my bedroom was like a shrine to him with little wallpaper showing due to images and cuttings and posters and lyric sheets of Mr David Bowie. I once read years ago that the only fans more devoted are Elvis fans. I think we may have way outdone them by now. One message from my friend Andrew reminded me of the night I had him laughing uproariously by playing the Laughing Gnome single at the wrong speed of 33 and a third and then how I’d I’m scared him shitless by playing the start to the Diamond Dogs LP in pitch darkness. Happy memories. Young teenage carefree mucking about memories.

Why Bowie? I dunno. You could ask the millions of other devoted fans and I’m sure there will be many stories of him making us feel accepted as outsiders. I think there’s more to it than that. I think beside all the man from outer space perception there was a feeling of him being one of us that stretched way beyond isolated teenage angst. He was anti establishment/ established ideas of what you can and cannot do. Aren’t we all a bit like that?

I’m not saying this for effect but my earliest memory is of Bowie and the Spiders doing the Jean Genie on Top of the Pops. I was 3 years old.  I remember my mum and dad remarking about “the state of him” I remember my older brothers and sisters saying they liked him. My next encounter with him was when I was 5 and Space Oddity was at number 1. He’s got two different eyes. That really stuck in my head. Next up Ashes to Ashes is at number 1. I was 10 and found the video for the song mesmerizing. He’s dressed as a clown, while being chased by a bulldozer and his nan seems to pop up at the end. What a curious man. Ironically the moment I was confirmed as a lifelong fan was exactly the same moment a generation before me had fallen for him. May 1983 was the 1000th edition of Top Of The Pops, by now I was already taking an interest but when I saw that clip of him and the Spiders doing Starman…well that was pretty much it. There cannot possibly be a better song or cooler man in existence.

My favourite memory is less a memory and more a confirmation of higher forces than me pointing out that we are all supposed to be a fan at some point or another. My favourite book on Bowie is Ziggyology by Simon Goddard. The book begins with a quote by Arthur C Clarke and goes on to examine many aspects of history from cosmology to Pythagoras to Gustav Holts The Planets (used as walk on music by The Spiders) and the crossing of artistic, historical and scientific lay lines that all lead to the creation of Ziggy Stardust. In some ways the book is as much about synchronicity as it is about that period in Bowies life. The dictionary definition of synchronicity is… “the simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.”

First let me explain my own personal connection to the books author. Prior to publishing Ziggyology Simon wrote the book Mozipedia. a thorough documentation of all things Morrissey and Smiths related. Upon opening Mozipedia  you’ll find on the fist page a preface dedication, “For misery guts of Bonnyrigg.” Where’s Bonnyrigg and who’s Misery guts? Well Bonnyrigg is a small town in the Lothians of Scotland where I grew up and Misery guts is a certain Paul Johnson a school friend of mine who lived just around the corner from me. He and the author have been long time pen pals. He’s as much of an authority on Moz as I am on Dave. We used to listen to both in each others bedrooms. Look at that a book written for each of us…even though Simon doesn’t know me from Adam. But that’s not the great cosmic coincidence. No I have a BETTER one than even that.

I was at Heathrow airport train terminus London, sat on a platform reading Ziggyology. I’d just got to a part describing how Rick Wakeman came to put together the beautiful piano work on Hunk Dory.  I glanced up and there on the platform opposite was Rick Wakeman. Now, knowing the nature of this book I thought no way, you’re willing that to be him stood about 20 feet away.  So with minutes to go before my train arrived I ran across the platforms walkway and up to him. “Excuse me sorry to bother, but you are Rick Wakeman aren’t you?” “Yes.” “Ha! Unbelievable I’m just reading about the wonderful work you did on Hunky Dory.” “Thanks.” “Sorry got to run again my trains coming.”

And that as they say was that. You can make up your own minds from there. The book does finish on a sentiment that I loved upon first reading. After the author makes all his connections and lays out all his evidence he concludes…WE ARE ALL ZIGGY STARDUST.

Couldn’t agree more.  Bye, bye…we love you.

Author: Mind Palaver

John and Elle are two voices, among many, advocating and living with acute mental health conditions.

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