Bowie organized an art festival in Bromley, and a music festival. The song Memory of A Free Festival from the album Space Oddity is about that festival.
Bowie, talking about Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud: 'That, for me at the time, was the most fully developed song that I'd written. It had the narrative form, a loose mythology. It was a portent of what I was going to be doing later on'.
According to a rumour, Bowie attempted to enter U.S.S.R. around 1969, but he was denied as he was found to have been carrying national socialist propaganda.
In January '70 - Bowie recorded the original version of Prettiest Star (that later appeared on his album Aladdin Sane) in London's Trident studios with Marc Bolan on guitar (who was about to become a superstar with T. Rex).
Bowie: 'There was quite a lot of rivalry between Marc and myself. We had a sparring relationship. We both knew we were going to be doing something in the future, but he was a few rungs up - he was really starting to happen. But he decided that he wanted to contribute to something that I was doing, and so he played guitar on this one. I don't think we were talking to each other that day. I can't remember why, but I remember a very strange attitude in the studio. we were never in the same room at the same time. You could have cut the atmosphere with a knife. We were eventually became the tightest of buddies until his tragic death in 1978'.
Bowie and Bolan were also members of the band 'Dib Cochran'.
Afterwards, Bowie set a backup band: Tony Visconti (bass), his friend John Cambridge (drums) and Cambridge's friend, classically trained from Hull, Mick Ronson (guitar). Their first session was at the Roundhouse, London, February '70.
Bowie: 'I thought It would be really interesting if each of us adopted a persona of some kind. I remember Cambridge was a cowboy, and Tony Visconti wore a Superman outfit. I can't remember what I wore, but it was very spacey, and there was a lot of Lurex-y material in it. Bolan was there, and he was open-mouthed that we had the balls to camp it up so much. I think that was the first glam-rock performance. I was all jeans and long hair at that time, and we got booed all the way through the show. People hated it. They absolutely loathed what we were doing. It was great!'.
In March 20th he was married to Mary Angela 'Angie' Barnett. Their son, Zowie, was born in May 28th.
In the early seventies, Bowie used to wear dresses ('a man's dresses'). He wasn't the only one (see Mick Jagger's little white 'party dress'), but still it was very odd. A Texan man pointed a gun at Bowie once because he was wearing a dress.
His next band was called Hype: Tony Visconti (bass), Woody Woodmansey, who was the drummer in Ronson's band The Rats (drums), Mick Ronson (guitar). Bowie himself acted as The Rainbow Man.
Bowie: 'Hype was a super band to be in. It didn't come to much, it was a shame actually. I enjoyed everything that we did. It was the embryo of what was to become the spiders'.
With the band, Bowie recorded his next album, The Man Who Sold The World. Marc Bolan appeared as a guest guitarist on Black Country Rock (released November '70).
In January '71 Mercury arranged that Bowie meets the American press.
On the original cover of his album The Man Who Sold The World Bowie appeared wearing a dress. Mercury rejected the cover, and it was replaced with a cartoon drawing of a cowboy holding a rifle with a shot out clock tower behind him (designed by Bowie's artist friend). Later on, after the album was already released, they replaced this with the black and white Ziggy picture. The album was published with different covers in other countries.
The album was not sold very well so Mercury decided to fire him. (All the covers appear in the Ryko re-release of the album, BTW).
Later that year, Bowie signed with RCA in the U.S.
In New York he met Andy Warhol, and Lou Reed. Lou Reed introduced him to Iggy Pop, and the three of them became good friends. There is a picture of them hanging out together. Bowie has always been a Lou Reed fan. He recorded two cover versions of his songs: White Light/White Heat and Waiting For The Man. He also sang these songs a few times in the sixties.
In 1970 He recorded what's known to be the first song he ever wrote, Tired Of My Life. The song can be found on the boolegs Lost In Our Vaults Until Now and The Shadow Man.
Bowie had a Riley car which he used to call Rupert. He wrote a song about it - Rupert the Riley - which wasn't officially released, but can be found on the bootleg The Shadow Man.
With previously The Rats member Trevor Bolder on bass and Rick Wakeman (who later on joined Yes) on keyboards, and his old band, Bowie recorded his next album Hunky Dory, that was produced by him and Ken Scott and released in November (after Wakeman had left).
One song became a big hit, Changes.
Bowie: 'I really started to feel at home as a songwriter in Hunky Dory. I really felt that I knew how to write songs at that point. There were couple of things that attempted to sort of transplant the brain of a cabaret song onto a piece of rock writing. One was Life on Mars and the other one was Changes. Changes started out as a parody of a nightclub song, a kind of throwaway. But it turned into the monster that nobody would stop asking for at concerts. "Dye-vid, Dye-vid - do Changes". I had no idea it would become such a popular thing'.
The album featured tribute songs to Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, and Velvet Underground (Queen Bitch).
According to several resources Andy Warhol hated the song Bowie wrote for him (Andy Warhol). They met, Andy listened to the song and sat and stared at David for a while, then said 'I like your shoes'. In a recent interview, to the radio program Modern Rock Live, Bowie said Warhol wasn't terribly communicative and how they basically stood there and looked at each other before having a conversation about shoes.
Talking about Oh! You Pretty Things Bowie said he tried to play the piano part, but had to stop after every couple of notes because his fingers hurt.
He once appeared with a circus elephant called Changes on stage.
Two tracks, Moonage Daydream and Hang Onto Yourself were released under the name Arnold Corns (originated from the Pink Floyd song Arnold Layne) in '71. The dress designer Freddi Burette was supposedly the lead singer. These tracks were later re-worked for the album Ziggy Stardust.
In 1972 Bowie invented Ziggy Stardust, a science fiction story with a hero by the same name. He created a concept album based on it. This album is considered to be Bowie's most influential and famous album, and one of the best albums ever made, by any artist. It was chosen as the most influential album of the decade by Melody Maker.
The album was released on June 6th and stayed more than a year on the U.S. charts. The band that played behind him in the years 1972-73 (until their last concert in Hammersmith Odeon) was called The Spiders. The members: Mick Ronson (guitar), Woody Woodmansey (drums), Trevor Bolder (bass).
This is what happened after they broke up:
Mick Ronson released a couple of solo albums (now available as a double on MainMan/Trident). He then worked for many years with Mott the Hoople. He played on their final single (Saturday Gigs), and on their European tour in October/November '74. He then worked with their writer/singer Ian Hunter on and off for the next 20 years. He has many productions with credits to his name, some of which are: The Morrissey album with I Know It's Gonna Happen on it, an Andi Sex-Gang single Seven Ways To Kill A Man, Dalbello's album Who Man Four Says. He also worked with some minor UK punk bands. For example, he produced and played on the Slaughter and the Dog's first album. Ronson had been living in the U.S. for some time. He died of liver cancer in 1993.
Woody Woodmansey and Trevor Bolder went on to release a Spiders From Mars album with unknown guitarist and vocalist. Woody Woodmansey then released another album (the name of the band was Wood Woodmansey's U-Boat) (The album has a 'cartoon' cover, BTW). They were touted as having 'the biggest drum kit in the world' - Woody promptly fell off it and broke his wrists!
Bolder and his band played a mini concert in 1977 during a street party to commemorate the Queens silver jubilee. He was playing bass for Uriah Heep at Reading Festival around 1987. He's still playing for them now. His dad used to have a record shop, but that was closed many years ago and is now a cafe. His brother also had a brief musical career.
The home town of the Spiders from Mars is the city of Hull, North Humberside.
Ziggy Stardust - the character Bowie played, is an amalgam of Vince Taylor, the insane rocker, who used to dress up like Jesus on stage; Iggy Pop/Twiggy; and the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, a failed one-time performer on TV.
Bowie: 'Vince was American and came to England, then went to France and became a star of dirge. But then he came back to England and we spoke of our findings. He wore a white robe and sandals and we sat in the busy London street with a map of the world and tried to find the people who were passing by and scowling at us. They were nowhere on the map. Vince went back to France, then I heard about the famous show where he had told his band to go home and appeared in front of the curtains in that old white robe and sandals telling the French people about the comings and goings due upon us. He was banned from performing. My records were selling and I was being a man in demand. I thought of Vince and wrote Ziggy Stardust. I thought of my brother and wrote Five Years. Then my friend came to mind, standing the way we stood in Bewlay Bros. and I wrote Moonage Daydream'.
Some say Ziggy Stardust is David's self portrait (and that he did that intentionally). Examples: Lady Stardust is about a man who is rejected by the environment because of his makeup and long hair. Ziggy Stardust (the song) is about a man who wants to become a famous rock star. John, I'm Only Dancing (which was released as a single at the time) deals with bisexuality (note: there is another interpretation that he's telling his friend he's not trying to steal his girlfriend).
Some people claim that Ziggy is Jimi Hendrix. To prove their theory all they can say is that they are both left handed. Of course, it didn't occur to them that Bowie is also left handed. Other people say Ziggy is not a human, and that David always claimed he was an actor, implying that he roles (so Ziggy is only a fruit of his imagination).
When John, I'm Only Dancing was released in September 1st in Britain, it reached #1 on the charts. But RCA America didn't want to release it, and it was banned from some radio stations because of it's suggestive lyrics. The song was released in America in '76 in the compilation album ChangesOneBowie.
Bowie was one of the first rock stars to admit he's bisexual. Some claim he was the very first. In January '72, in a Melody Maker interview he said: 'I'm gay, and always have been'. In '83 with Let's Dance and his foray into the mainstream he went from admitting it to denying it. He's now claiming it was just an experimental act.
Quotes that are worth mentioning: 'probably the most provocative thing one could say in 1972. Drug talk was positively establishment and this sort of felt like the era of self invention coming up'. E Entertainment: He told that he was trisexual ('I'll try anything once'). Out: 'I was fairly forthcoming about the fact that I was bisexual. I don't think there was any question about me being ambiguous, was there?' Details: He said he had admitted he was bisexual because he didn't want someone else to discover it.
Bowie's ex-wife, Angie, claims she caught her husband in bed with Mick Jagger. Bowie's response (US magazine, 1995): 'About 15 or 16 years ago, I really got pretty tired of fending off questions about what I used to do with my [penis] in the early seventies. My suggestion for people with prurient interests is to go through the 30 or 40 bios on me and pick out the rumour of their choice'.
For the tour that followed the Ziggy Stardust album, Bowie created a show with glamorous costumes and stage effects (with The Spiders and American Jazz pianist Mike Garson) (and dyed his hair red :-) ). In one performance Bowie sent his tongue to Mick Ronson's guitar, while touching his thighs. The media interpreted it as if Bowie was trying to send his tongue to Ronson's loins. This caused a big scandal and Ronson threatened in resignation. Bowie supposedly licking Ronson's groin was commonly termed 'the electric blowjob' and he did it quite frequently in Ziggy shows. He also did this a few years before the Ziggy tour, at a concert in Northern England. He wasn't the one who invented it, by the way. You can see this act in Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture. It basically looks like he's trying to perform fellatio on the guitar.
Bowie was once left only in his underwear when fans tore his clothes and took them as souvenirs.
Ronson initially didn't want to wear the costume-y glitter garb Bowie wanted him to as one of the Spiders. Bowie joked many times that he finally convinced Ronson and the others by telling them they'd 'pull more girls' that way.
The phone booth that appears in one of the photos on the cover of Bowie's album 'The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars' was torn from its place and was sold to an American fan in the late seventies. There was nothing special about that phone booth.
The picture for the cover of Ziggy Stardust was taken in Soho. The K. West sign shown on the cover of Ziggy Stardust was stolen by a Bowie fanatic (never to be found). K. West was an agent / theatrical supplier.
Still in 1972, Bowie produced Lou Reed's album Transformer. Lou Reed appeared as a guest singer in a Bowie performance in London, the same year. They performed Reed's Sweet Jane as a duet.
Bowie surprised his fans in the last concert of the Ziggy Stardust tour, as he performed the Beatles song Love Me Do as part of a medley with The Jean Genie. Jeff Beck appeared as a guest guitarist. The resulting performance was, however, left out of the original release from the concert (Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture) but can be found on the old vinyl bootleg His Master's Voice, along with a few others.
Bowie is afraid of spiders as a result of a trauma he had when he was a child. He told in an interview that he remembers saying to himself: 'Spiders, creatures from the darkness, I need to turn into a spider in order to fight crimes'.
His next album was Aladdin Sane. The name Aladdin Sane is actually A Lad Insane.
Bowie: 'It was a sort of a half hearted effort to leave Ziggy alone. It wasn't very committed. It was a case of not wanting to let go of something that was successful, yet another part of me really wanted to go home. Also, I had a ... not a falling out, really, but a loss of enthusiasm with the spiders. They didn't really wanted to go where I wanted to go. I was already developing a great interest in soul music, and experimental forms. They were pretty much into playing this straightforward rock. Which was understandable - they played it very well'.
He originally wrote the song Drive In Saturday, that was included in this album, for Mott the Hoople as a follow up to the song All The Young Dudes that he had previously written and produced for them (he produced the whole All The Young Dudes album). Bowie: 'They never used Drive In Saturday. I don't know why'.
In the seventies, there was a lot of gossip concerning his favourites in sex. They included: Japanese and black females, white and Japanese males, women of African extraction. Bowie told proudly he saw four couples making love in his performance in Glasgow, in 1973.
There were dozens of Ziggy doubles in every concert Bowie gave during hiss Ziggy tours. In one of the nights during the Aladdin Sane tour the surrealist painter Salvador Dali was in the audience.
His most famous quote is probably 'Not only is it the last show of the tour, but it's the last show that we'll ever do. Thank you'. He said that at the last concert of the Aladdin Sane tour, in July 3rd, 1973, Hammersmith Odeon. Many Bowie fans believe that he meant THE SPIDERS will never perform again. It's a known fact, however, that he and his company, RCA had a disagreement about the money they let him spend.
And then he released Pin-Ups, a cover-versions-only album for songs from the London '64-'67 club scene.
Bowie: 'Pin-ups was really my way of shaking Ziggy completely, while retaining excitement in the music. It really was treading water, but it happens to be one of my favourite albums. I think there's some terrific stuff in it. I had it in the back of my mind to do a volume two, and cover the American scene. I would've done Velvets and early Iggy things, The Seeds, Pearls Before Swine. There were some great things I was gonna dig up and do'.
Lou Reed's White Light/White Heat was recorded for Pin-Ups, but was never released.
In '73 Bowie also remixed Iggy Pop's album Raw Power.
He sang Bono's I Got You Babe as a duet with Marianne Faithful in the 1980 Floor Show in October (available on the Dollars In Drag bootleg).
Bowie produced Lulu's single from 1974 Watch That Man/The Man Who Sold The World (both songs already written by Bowie). He's also provided backing vocals, and his band was playing in the background.
In 1974 he wrote and recorded a song called You Can Have Her, I Don't Want Her, She's Too Fat For Me. After the recordings, he burned the tapes.
David had wanted to make a theatrical production of 1984, but the Orwell estate denied the rights. So he turned his original idea into what became the Diamond Dogs album, that was released in June '74.
Bowie: 'I was stuck with a partially written musical. And I converted it into something more Borroughsian. That was when I really started playing around with cut-up techniques, and that really opened up a whole new avenue of songwriting to me, a whole approach creating different atmospheres. Because that was the crux of what rock was to me. It wasn't so much what rock said. It was just the attitude and the atmosphere that it created. I was trying to define my version of rock-personally, in the way that I felt it, as a more stage oriented, theatrical kind of artist'.
The album cover of Diamond Dogs originally showed a half dog, half Bowie figure. The offending parts were censored in the American release of the album. It is now available in the U.S. with the original cover.
One song that didn't make it to the album was Dodo. It was attempted with The Spiders, and with a soul arrangement. Bowie: 'I also had Lulu cover it, but that never came out either'. The song is available in the Ryko re-release, and the Sound+Vision CD set as part of a medly 1984/Dodo. Even prior to these releases, this song was available on many bootlegs.
The first single from the album, Rebel Rebel was the first song the American press really liked.
Eventually, the album reached #5 in the U.S. album charts. The tour that followed was glamorous. On the stage there was a big movable bridge, and a giant diamond that opened up to reveal a giant hand. Bowie: 'The set was unbelievably expensive. We were stoney broke. It wiped me out for a few years. But it was definitely worth doing'.
In 1974 journalists took pictures of him with Lou Reed in a crowded room. It was interpreted as a passionate kiss by some in the media, others think they were just talking closely.
The band that played behind him on the first half of the 1974 tour almost started a strike. They claimed they are not getting enough exposure, and that their fee is low. The threatened strike was settled only hours before the David Live album was recorded.
David Live was recorded in Philadelphia. When David was there, he took his time to record some songs at Sigma Sound, a soul music centre. He used the guitarist Carlos Alomar, who he have seen at Harlem's Apollo theatre, and the backup singer Luther Vandruss (and co-wrote Fascination with him).