David Bowie A Life

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress, Music, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on March 20, 2019

David Bowie: A Life was sitting on the biography shelf at the Chamblee library. It is an “oral biography.” Dylan Jones gets the blame, and the copyright. He took a bunch of interviews, and curated salient passages into a narrative. It is a fun book to read, full of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

The Amazon one star reviews beg to differ. Guitar Gregg “I thought this would be biography not assorted comments. Very few comments from David Bowie. Who cares what Debora Harry or hundreds of “Joe blows” have to say? No pictures? 500 pages? Too much too little. Buy his cd’s instead.” worst read ever “Belongs in the fire … worst read ever!”

PG enjoyed DBAL. At some point, the lurid tales of depravity got too quotable, and PG started keeping a list. In this book report, we will use this list, until the list, or the reader’s attention span, is exhausted. There may be another installment. Part one was published last week.

“There’s one instance — probably included just so it would be cited — about someone calling Bowie’s room in New York with an offer of a still-warm corpse. “The town had never seen anything like David before,” says onetime groupie Josette Caruso. “And he obviously looked like such a freak that some sick people thought he might be into necrophilia.” (He wasn’t.) (Page 142)

Page 146 “He (Lou Reed) had an auteur complex, and Bowie didn’t fit into that. Lou was also a prime member of the awkward squad. He could lose a charm competition with Van Morrison.” In 1972 David had gone through years of struggle, and was starting to make it. After the Ziggy Stardust tour, he was hot. At this time, David wound up helping two struggling artists, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop

The Elton John/Rolling Stone article was published during one Iggy phase. “May 1975 — It’s four in the morning, Hollywood time, and David Bowie is twitching with energy. … Bowie clutches his heart and beams like a proud father watching his kid in the school play. His whisper is full of wonder. “They just don’t appreciate Iggy.” he is saying. “He’s Lenny fucking Bruce and James Dean. When that adlib flow starts, there’s nobody like him. It’s verbal jazz, man!” … Bowie and Iggy never did make it back into the studio. Pop slept past the booked time, called up drunk several nights later and when Bowie told him to “go away” — meaning “hang up” — Iggy did just that. Now he’s disappeared. “I hope he’s not dead,” says Bowie, “he’s not a good act.” Iggy will show up later in this story.

Page 151 has stories from the Ziggy tour. In Seattle, the entourage went to a gay bar, and someone invited David to a party. When the next day came, and the tour needed to go to the next city, David was nowhere to be found. When he finally called the hotel, all he knew was that he was in a house, with a lot of trees around it. A hotel employee talked to David on the phone, and they managed to figure out where he was.

Page 155 Lori Mattox was a fifteen year old rock fan in 1972. “We got to the Beverly Hilton, and all went up to Bowie’s enormous suite. … We were getting stoned when, all of a sudden, the bedroom door opens and there is Bowie in this beautiful red and orange and yellow kimono … “Lori, darling, can you come with me? … Of course I did. Then he escorted me into the bedroom, gently took off my clothes, and de-virginized me.”

There is a lot of text about David’s sex life. The boy got around, in spite of, or because of, his open marriage with Angela. Apparently, nature was generous with David. While performatively gay during this era, David made plenty of exceptions with ladies. DBAL is an entertaining book.

Page 176 Ava Cherry was a girlfriend who stuck around. “… and yes, we did have some fun together. We were staying at the Sherry-Netherland one night in New York, where David had given a party for Rudolph Nureyev. At the end of the party, everyone was gone apart from me and David and Mick, (Jagger) so it just ended up with the three of us sleeping together.”

Page 263 87 pages later, David has burned out on American rock stardom, and is living on top of an auto parts store in Berlin. This is the phase which produced Low and Heroes, two creative, though non commercial, efforts. Iggy Pop is back in the picture. Longtime assistant Coco Schwab never left. Iggy Pop : “There’s sevent days in a week: two for bingeing, two for recovery, and three more for any other activity.” Coco Schwab “I remember one elevated subway ride where you ride into East Berlin with no checkpoints and then back out with Absinthe into the west. Trust Jim (Iggy) to find that one.”

Page 277 David meets Adrian Bellew, who is in Frank Zappa’s band. David is talking to Adrian about doing a tour with David. At some point, the two go to a restaurant, where they run into Frank Zappa. “…David tried to strike up a conversation with Frank, saying “This is quite a guitar player you have here” And Frank said, “Fuck you, Captain Tom.” David persisted, and said “Oh come on now, Frank, surely we can be gentleman about this?” And Frank said, “Fuck you, Captain Tom.” … so David said, “So you really have nothing to say?” To which Frank said, “Fuck you, Captain Tom.”

Picture are from The Library of Congress. Russell Lee took the photographs in April, 1941. The setting was Chicago, IL. The bar at Palm Tavern, Negro restaurant on 47th Street. Chicago, Illinois Having fun at roller skating party at Savoy Ballroom. Chicago, Illinois

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