David Bowie 1947 – 2016
And so, the dust has settled, the dress is hung, the ticket pawned, the Factor Max that proved the fact is melted down, and woven on the edging of my pillow… Philip Jeffries has vanished once again, though this time for good, leaving little more than a scorch mark on a Buenos Aires hotel wall.
David Bowie is dead; but Bowie, unlike the doomed Jeffries, has left behind so much more.
As well as a back catalogue frankly unmatched in the annals of pop, of rock, and hell, of music in general (all copyists, Johnny-come-latelys and pretenders to the crown of chameleonic genre-splicing persona-most-grata swagger and tune be damned -pipe down Gaga, Madonna and the deluded Mr. West) Mr. Bowie has also left us a wonderful parting shot, a goodbye and a clarion call to get up off our arses.
I heard Blackstar on the day of release, in the car on our way to Suffolk. Not ideal listening conditions perhaps, but still the record sounded incredible, if all too short. For my money it’s Bowie’s most cohesive album since ‘Outside’, the songs truly feel like they belong together; an album that is greater than the sum of its parts. It seemed to include just about everything that I’ve loved about so much of his other work: great song writing, bemusing and amusing cryptic lyrics and a strong sense of the avant garde filtered or contrasted with the unashamedly pop. Stunning, and as the events of his death revealed themselves, heartbreaking.
I can safely say that there is no other single figure in the arts that has had such a huge effect on my life. I’ve no idea who or what I would be doing without him but I wouldn’t be me, not the me I am, chiefly because it wouldn’t have been communicated to me in quite the same way that it was ok to be so. I wouldn’t have heard the things I heard, wouldn’t have dressed the way I’ve dressed, made the friends I made, wouldn’t have read the things I’ve read, or for that matter written the things I’ve written. No I never knew him, no I never met him, but yes I feel somewhat gutted at his death.
We heard the news while away from home holidaying with friends, and following an almost off-the-cuff idea from the lovely Abbi (The Double R Club’s very own 7 of diamonds), that idea then grew rapidly into the idea for a Bowie themed cabaret show to raise money or cancer charities.
Ashes To Ashes -a cabaret tribute to David Bowie was born. Ash Wednesday -see what Rose did there? A show which, when announced, sold out in 4 hours. And lo, people then began to lose their shit trying to get tickets; some even being scammed on Facebook in that pursuit. It all went a bit bonkers. Also, by the time the date came around Rose Thorne had coaxed and cajoled others to stage sister events in Glasgow, Leeds and Melbourne Australia!
The evening was a great celebration of all things Bowie with songs and performances from right across the spectrum of his career; the show opened with an empty stage, bar a microphone and stand, while ‘Future Legend’ played, after which I sang ‘Diamond Dogs’, later I did my best to belt out ‘Boys Keep Swinging’. We even had a frankly show-stopping rendition of ‘The Laughing Gnome’ from Laurence Owen. Everyone on the bill was incredible; A HUGE thank you to our amazing cast: Tricity Vogue, Josephine Shaker, Champagne Charlie, Tom Carradine, Lydia Darling, Rhyannon Styles, VJ Spankie, Bettsie Bon Bon, Abnormalik, Nathan Evans, Laurence Owen, Vicky Butterfly, Dusty Limits & Clifford Slapper. And not forgetting our amazing front of house bods who made the whole thing run so smoothly: Abbi De Carteret-Feazey, Sean Mooney, Ed Wills, Ruth Elizabeth Young, Johanna Lee, Jo Gilliver, Sin Bozkurt and Jerry & Steakley Bakewell, MASSIVE thank yous all round.
We laughed, we cried, we sang Bowie and, together with the art auction organised by Rose, we raised £6,500.
I’m afraid I can’t end this with the oft used “I hope wherever he is that he’s…” because I don’t (can’t) believe he’s anywhere at all anymore; he died. He’s not gone somewhere, he’s just gone. That simple fact still seems impossible. I’m just really glad that he was here while I was. Bowie’s being alive and my being alive coinciding has made my life significantly different and significantly better.
“Hey, now my sight is failing in this twilight…
…Now My Death is more than just a sad song”
(listen to ‘A Superabundance of Bowie’ HERE)