The Young American
Magazine Articles
Disc (UK) - 6 July 1974: Brilliant Bowie…he sang, he danced and the audience loved it Imagine listening to a transistor radio under water. Imagine looking at the moon through the wrong end of a telescope. That's how it was at The Forum in Montreal when David Bowie kicked off his month-long North American tour. The Forum is a huge stadium normally used for ice-hockey games and its acoustics are worse than the Albert Hall's. Even so, Bowie received a 20-minute standing ovation. His energy is phenomenal. He sang, he danced and he mimed for almost two hours without an interval. He covered his career from Space Oddity to Rebel Rebel and Diamond Dogs from his new album - currently the fastest-selling album here. But his new act is far more than a collection of songs - it's an elaborate and brilliantly staged show. Bowie came bouncing on in a black tee-shirt and white 50's rockers suit, complete with the Elvis knee-shaking. During the guitar break he disappeared, only to emerge on a balcony above the stage, wrapped in a huge overcoat gazing sadly into the distance. Then he whipped off his coat and jacket, and there he was in his baggy trousers and red braces - the circus clown!   His group are over on one side pumping out a strong tight sound - but they play no visual part in the show. They leave the whole show to Bowie and his two "dogs" - his two friends in black, who dance (not as well as him) and who provide occasional back-up vocals. In one song they danced around him, tying him up with ropes. And then as he broke free the ropes became a boxing-ring, and he shadow-boxed around the stage. After that the "dogs" brought on a stool and some spot-lights and he posed - the photographic model! And all the while he was singing better than ever before.  One idea followed another. He sang Space Oddity bathed in a purple light, suspended by a crane 60 feet in the air. For The Jean Genie he grabbed a white hat and cane - Gatsby himself! The whole effect was overwhelming, and the audience looked on in amazement, not knowing what to expect next. It was the wildest thing to hit Montreal since the David Bowie-Marianne Faithful version of I Got You Babe was televised a few months back. Bowie tried something completely new - and succeeded. I only hope England gets a chance to see him soon. COLIN DAVIES   Rolling Stone (US) - 18 July 1974: Performance - Bowie: O'Keefe Auditorium, Toronto June 16th, 1974 No one seems to know - or is willing to say - why David Bowie has chosen to make a major North American tour but a year after his much-celebrated farewell to the concert grind. His management dismisses inquiries with a curt "the demand is there"; music biz scuttlebutt ranges from "he needs the money" to "his ego won't let him stop until he's conquered America." Whatever his reasons, the stage show Bowie has put together for this tour is intelligent, creative and entertaining. "TheaTour" is what he calls it and it carries visual effects several steps beyond their heretofore supportive role at rock concerts. In "TheaTour" the props and settings are almost more important than the music. Bowie's interactions with his props were an important aspect of the Toronto show from the first note, when he entered center stage to the glare of a white-hot spotlight and the opening strains of "1984". The stage itself was a visual portrayal of that future scene, with massive paper skyscrapers reflecting the damage of a fictitious thermonuclear blast. With "Rebel Rebel" the initial fascination with Bowie's immense stage persona wore off enough to allow the other performers to show up. The 8- piece band was off in a corner, a supportive role for sure, leaving the lion's share of the stage to Bowie, his self-designed props and two male vocalists who served as backup singers and visual foils, pantomiming the scenes Bowie was lyrically portraying.   Props became increasingly elaborate as the show progressed. Bowie sang "Changes" from high atop a mock bridge, donned boxing gloves in a mock ring for "Panic In Detroit" and cavorted on top of and in a massive mirror-and-blacklight capsule for "Big Brother" and "Time". A particularly emotional moment came during "Space Oddity" as Bowie was slowly lowered from high atop a pinnacle to a position hovering over the crowd as the mellotron and echoplexed guitar let fly with a barrage of space-aged sounds. Despite a touch of laryngitis, Bowie's vocals were strong and steady through the performance, his stage movements graceful and self-assured. And for musicians so obviously relegated to backup status, his band played quite assertively, particularly on a powerful, no-holds-barred version of "Suffragette City." He did just about every song he's made even remotely famous, finishing with "Rock'n'Roll Suicide." In his wake Bowie left 3500 people marveling at the professionalism of a show that transcended rock & roll ("It was more like a Broadway musical," said one observer). And though the crowd's occasionally tumultuous roar of approval lasted well over six minutes, there was no encore. GORDON FLETCHER   The Village Voice (US) - 25 July 1974: Dancing at disaster's edge In the course of his pilgrim's progress toward stardom, DAVID BOWIE'S artistic vision, as documented by his vinyl forays, has become increasingly bleak. The dream of redemption by the next generation or interstellar travellers that pervaded "Hunky Dory" and "Ziggy Stardust" has crumbled into the radioactive wreckage of the "Diamond Dogs" where the only hope of survival lies in total humiliation and submission. In light of this growing pessimism, Bowie's performance on his current concert tour seemed a step back from the abyss, an elaborate divertissement at the edge of a disaster. The atmosphere of anticipation in the Garden had far more of the gunpowder in the nostrils of an art gallery on opening night than the electric excitement of a concert hall. Where the Alice Cooper brand of "theatrics" subordinates the visuals into a function of the music. Bowie's simultaneous contempt for and fascination with the latest incarnation of his vision results in the sacrifice of excitement for an elaborately choreographed production. Everything about the show bespoke tremendous attention to even the smallest details. In the process, all spontaneity of rock 'n' roll has been lost. Bowie's new backing band with only pianist Mike Garson remaining from the old Spiders, is the thoroughly disciplined and professional, but they are seldom given a chance to do more than play their charts. The only time they really cut loose at the show I saw was on the old Eddie Floyd r&b standard "Knock On Wood", dropping the postures and poses. Bowie threw back his red mane and strutted through it.   Taken on its own level, as neither rock raveup nor musical show, the concert worked as a stupendously orchestrated entertainment. Beginning with rocking versions of "1984" and "Rebel Rebel", the more than two-hour performance spanned the last five years of Bowie's music. "Space Oddity," midway through the show, was the first superproduction, with Bowie singing into a telephone while being slowly lowered from a blood-dripping skyscraper by a crane. "Jean Genie," formerly a tough electric blues, was transformed into a torch ballad, replete with Garson's tinkling piano flourishes and beer garden sax. In the course of a "Big Brother" / "Time" / "Width of a Circle" medley, he was disgorged and then swallowed by a mirror-studded cross between a space capsule and a tank, and Ziggy's invitation to freak out in a "Moonage Daydream" became a wistful memory of an earlier and more innocent age before daydreams became an insupportable luxury. Bowie is taking rock 'n' roll someplace it's never been before, but only time will show whether his chosen road leads to a breakthrough or a blind alley. If those who will inevitably follow are able to experiment with the new possibilities in rock staging he's opened up, some real excitement could get back into the music. And since the future of rock right now seems about as bleak as Bowie's vision of the future, any change at all could only be an improvement. DAN NOOGER   Circus Raves (US) - September 1974: The secrets behind his 'Dog' tour Throughout the increasingly balmy nights of spring, the famous face of David Bowie could be seen up and down the avenues of New York, and each evening the city of a thousand moods had something more intriguing in store for him. Again and again the lily-skinned rocker swept up to Harlem’s famed Apollo Theatre to see The Impressions, The Persuasions or The Spinners. He popped into Gary Glitter’s press party with Marc Bolan (after Glitter had left) and toasted Todd Rundgren’s Carnegie Hall concert accompanied by Eva Cherry, the black former- Bowie back-up and Astronette whose new hairdo made her look like a tennis ball. As the moon spun farther across the sky, he journeyed to the red-lit smoke of Max’s Kansas City or the city’s sharpest after-hours decadent disco, The 82 Club, where he danced with the hot tramps of Long Island and New Jersey until dawn. Meanwhile, across the Hudson River, a very different sort of cityscape was being prepared for Bowie’s arrival. Just as David was shutting his multi-colored eyes and making it with the sandman behind drawn shades, highly skilled technicians assembled every morning at Design Associates in Lambertville, New Jersey to erect the props and scenery for Bowie’s 28- city tour of the East. Commented one veteran special effects designer - co-ordinator Paul Stange, "It’s the heaviest rock and roll show ever to go out on the road – literally. There are three tractor trailer loads of equipment and more special effects than has ever been seen before in a rock and roll show." Canine concept: Bowie popped in and out of his suite at the Sherry- Netherland Hotel all April and May to frequent RCA’s recording studios and rehearse the "Diamond Dogs" stage act with his new band (ex-Spider Mike Garson, Herbie Flowers, Tony Newman, and Earl Slick). Sandwiched between these activities, the artiste met with Mark Ravitz of Jules Fisher’s Associates to conceive the stage setting which would be his home for 36 performances over the course of a month. The two had prolonged conversations about the aesthetic meanings of various scenic elements. Once Bowie and Ravitz knew what they wanted, they enlisted the aid of Chris Langhart, the man who fashions such super-creations as the Barnum & Bailey circus carousel. Langhart’s second floor office which looks out over a local teenage gathering place, is set in fairly tranquil surroundings, but when the four telephone lines all star ringing at once , the blond engineer feels like he’s in the middle of Manhattan. "The plans don’t come to you with everything thought out," the masterbuilder confided to Circus RAVES Magazine. "The designer comes to me with the basic ideas and says ‘How can we capture a, b anc c?’ He comes to me to make his concepts function. Then after they get their minds made up what size it’s all going to be, they want it instantly. It’s a super coordinating job. Rock and roll in its present state owes a lot to the telephone as a timesaver. It’s not like the Ringling Bros. Circus where you have half a year to put something together."   Lightning sculpture: The cityscape itself, with "pools of essence" dripping down the face of the buildings, was Ravitz’s design. "It’s not as simple as a backdrop," Langhart said of the three-dimensional set which Bowie can move through, coming out from between different buildings and appearing in windows illuminated from the back. Among the buildings there is a giant lightning bolt, Bowie’s Aladdin Sane symbol, which chases up and down as light sculpture – "stationary lights changing their on and off relationship to each other." It appears as a building when not illuminated and then suddenly becomes the familiar jagged slash. "It’s done with scrims," Langhart explained. "It’s a theatrical technique that’s existed for years but hasn’t been applied to rock and roll before." Engineering extras: The most spectacular engineering feats in the "Diamond Dogs" extravaganza, though, are the three elements which move in coordination with David’s choreographed movements – the diamond, the bridge and the catapult. •The diamond is a space car on wheels which looks like a jewel. Bowie can be either inside it or on top of it. It appears upstage and comes down toward the audience to reveal the singer, somewhat like Bette Midler’s well known entrance to the Palace Theatre last fall from a high heeled shoe. It has microphones that come out so he can sing on it, and all the cables for sound and power for the DC motors are passed upstage with little rollers. •The bridge is similar to a painter’s trestle. It has winches of variable speeds on the ends so it can go up and down in time with various songs. The bridge moves between the buildings of the cityscape, and Bowie can dance across it, or leap over the railing and slide down ropes like a warbling buccaneer. Explaining the freedom of the concept, Langhart offered, "Bowie has the choice of going up the towers on the ends to get to it and then coming down, or he can board it from ground level, ride up in it, and then get off on the towers. It’s full of options for him." •The catapult doesn’t really hurl Bowie into the air, but the apparatus does allow him to sit in a chair at the top and be lowered down into the lap of the audience, over the first few rows. A kind of giant arm, it comes out of a "pool of essence." "It’s a monster quantity of flashy electronic special effects," observed Stange. The triple trailered caravan lumbers onto the road once again in September for the red-haired Mainman’s swing through the western U.S.A. SIMON DECKER   Melody Maker (UK) - 14 September 1974: Bowie finds his voice! It's back to R & B for Ziggy Stardust who now wants to be recognised as a singer. Bowie talks exclusively to Robert Hilburn in Los Angeles - and previews his next two albums! "I really shouldn't do this", teased David Bowie as he walked across the room of his Beverly Hills hotel suite toward a mound of tape equipment. I had come to talk to him and hear his new live album (a two-record set from his current United States tour), but there was something else he wanted to play first. "This isn't the new album, but the one after it, and the record company doesn't like me to do that. They want me to talk about the new one, the live one that'll be out soon. But I'm so excited about this one. We cut it in a week in Philadelphia and it can tell you more about where I am now than anything I could say." This was Bowie's first interview since he began his massive US tour last June, a tour that included such ambitious staging that many reviewers have hailed it as the most spectacular rock show ever. Bowie doesn't like interviews and rarely does them anymore. They are, he feels unnecessary links between him and his audience. Like so many, he feels his music conveys, everything he wants to say. Besides, he hates to read later when his views on a subject may have changed drastically. And David's views - he's the first to admit - do change often and drastically. He was a bit nervous when he entered the room. He simply walked over to the tape equipment and rummaged through some boxes until he found the right one, and began threading the machine and adjusting the controls. For those who still take note of his fashion, he now parts his hair down the side - a bit like the 1930s look. The popular Ziggy hairstyle is gone. He was wearing black tux trousers, a blue and white check shirt and bold white suspenders. His shoes were black, rather like a conservative banker might wear. No platforms. Satisfied the tape equipment was working properly, he moved to a chair and listened as the music came from the speakers. From the opening track (a new version of "John, I'm Only Dancing"), it was clear some changes had been made in Bowie's style. The musical backing featured a strong touch of rhythm and blues, but mainly it was the confidence, increased shading and range of his voice. It was far less one-dimensional than in the past. More human and "authentic". The next track - "Somebody Up There Likes Me" - was even more telling. It was a socio-political commentary, very direct in its lyrics. The other tracks - including a ballad about love having slipped through one's grasp, and a lament about the loss of emotion in this era that contains the line "Ain't there one damn song that can make me break down and cry?" - were also more direct and accessible than much of Bowie's previous work. There's no resort to science fiction or indirect statement. When the tape ended, there was less nervousness in Bowie's manner. He was obviously delighted with the new album. It was as if the music gave him greater confidence. Later, the nervousness would reappear from time to time and when it did he would usually end his comment with a nervous laugh as if to underscore his uncertainty about the particular answer. "I think it is the closest thing I've ever done on record to being very, very me," he said. "I always said that on most albums I was acting. It was a role, generally. "And this one is the nearest to actually meeting me since that very first 'Space Oddity' album, which was quite personal. I'm really excited about it." There seemed to be much less tension and more focus in the new album - tentatively titled "One Damn Song" - than in the recent "Aladdin Sane" and 'Diamond Dogs" albums. I asked him about that. He said he had been through a strain on both of those albums. " 'Aladdin Sane' was a result of my paranoia with America at the time," he said. "I hadn't come to terms with it, then. I have now, I know the areas I like best in America. "I know the kind of people I like. I've been here a long time - since April. I've had a chance to clarify my feelings. And I'm quite happy over here. I found different people. "But I ran into a very strange type of paranoid person when I was doing 'Aladdin.' Very mixed up people, and I got very upset. It resulted in 'Aladdin'… And I know I didn't have very much more to say about rock 'n' roll. "I mean 'Ziggy' really said as much as I meant to say all along. 'Aladdin' was really 'Ziggy' in America. Again, it was just looking around, seeing what's in my head. "The 'Pin-Ups' album was a pleasure. And I knew the band (the Spiders) was over. It was a last farewell to them in a way. 'Diamond Dogs' was the start of this new album, actually. "Things like 'Rock and Roll With Me' and '1984' were embryonic of what I wanted to do. I tried all kinds of things. It' was not a concept album. It was a collection of things. "And I didn't have a band. So that's where the tension came in. I couldn't believe I had finished it when I did. I had done so much of it myself. I never want to be in that position again. "It was frightening trying to make an album with no support behind you. I was very much on my own. It was my most difficult album. It was a relief that it did so well." Was he worried during "Diamond Dogs" about where he was going next musically? "No, I knew it was toward this album. Even then. The songs on 'Diamond Dogs' that I got the biggest kick out of - like 'Rock and Roll With Me' and '1984' - gave me the knowledge there was another album at least inside of me that I was going to be happy with. "I mean, if I can't make albums that I'm happy with, I'll not make them. I won't just go in and knock off dozens of albums. They must mean something to me. "It just happens that I write very fast. I write a lot. That's why I seem to have so many bloody albums out." Though the new album, then, is a departure for Bowie, he gave clues to it all along. Even during the peak success of "Ziggy Stardust," he had said he was not interested in just being a rock 'n' roller. He wanted a broader, more multi-directional career. While the new album, is the boldest step in that direction, songs like "Time" on "Aladdin Sane" gave hints of his future. "Exactly," he said, "it has always been there. It was just a question of when I was going to come out of my particular closet. The answer, obviously, was when I had the confidence to. "Presumably, the next album will be a further graduation. But, maybe, it'll be a retrostep. We'll see." The nervous laughter popped up briefly. I asked him about the rhythm and blues influence. Was it something new? "No. But it's only now that I've got the necessary confidence to sing like that. That's the kind of music I've always wanted to sing. I mean those are my favourite artists… the Jackie Wilsons… that type. That was one of the great things about this trip. I could go to any black place in America and not be recognised. And that was really fantastic. The only time, really, we got any kind of recognition on a large scale was at the Jackson 5 concert because there was a younger audience. But at most of the R&B shows, they're married couples, not kids, so it was marvellous for me to be able to go out and rave and yell. I went to the Apollo a lot, saw dozens of people." When did the vocal confidence come to him? "When I started rehearsing with the band for this tour, I suddenly realised I was enjoying singing again. I hadn't enjoyed it in a long time. "It was just a way to get my songs across. But when I started rehearsing I began enjoying it and I found I actually had a voice. "That's really exciting for me. My voice has improved in leaps and bounds. I've been flattered by some of the things the musicians have said about my singing. "I'd really like to be recognised as a singer. I'd love that." Was singing always a goal? "I don't know," he smiled. "Once upon a time… when I was very young… like 22 or something… I had my eye on that, but I never really took it seriously. "I didn't have any sort of faith in my voice. I knew that I had an individual voice, but how I'm beginning to believe it's good as well. Maybe I just want to be a crooner…". That laughter popped up again. One of the most interesting songs on the new album is "Somebody Up There Likes Me," a warning about the danger of hero worship.  "There are several things on this album that lead front other things I've done," he said. "Really, I'm a very one track person. What I've said for years under various guises is that 'Watch Out, the West is going to have a Hitler!' I've said it in a thousand different ways. That song is yet another way.  "I just feel we are very open to…" he continued, then paused and broke off his thought by saying he hates to pontificate in that way. He just feels, he said, we all have a temptation to let others make our decisions for us - to lead us. "That's what Ziggy was. That's what they all are… all the little characters I come up with." Wasn't it ironic, then, I suggested, that so many of Bowie's own fans look to him as a leader - someone give them answers. "That's just it," he said. "That's what I said in 'Rock and Roll With Me.' I mean, the verse of that talks about that… you're doing it to me. Stop it." Again, the nervous laugh.  "That's why I'm happy my music is going in the new direction. It's responsible music. I mean, one could play an enormous game with people, but I am not prepared to do it. I could see how easy it was to get a whole rally thing going. "There were times, frankly, when I could have told the audience to do anything, and that's frightening. Well, I've got that responsibility so I've got to be very careful about what I do with it. It needs a bit of forethought." How does he feel his audience will respond to this new album? "When we were recording, a bunch of kids stayed outside the studio all night until 10 o'clock in the morning, so we let them in and played some things from the album and they loved it, which was amazing. Fabulous, because I really didn't know what they'd think about the change in direction."  What about the absence of science fiction in the new album? Was that part of his increased confidence?  "Yes it is in a way. I used a lot of science fiction patterns because I was trying to put forward concepts, ideas and theories, but this album hasn't anything to do with that. "It's just emotional drive. 'It's one of the first albums I've done that bounds along on emotional impact. There's not a concept in sight." He'd felt a concept was important? "Yes, very much so. That's what I felt my area as a writer was, but I've obviously changed. When I finished this album, I felt. 'My God, I'm a different writer than I used to be.' Before you put it all together, you don't know what you've really got - just bits and pieces. "But then when we listened to it all together, it was obvious that I had really, really changed. Far more than I had thought. Every time I play a finished album I get a shock. I think - wow, is that where I am now?" It seemed like a good time for Bowie to put on another tape. This one was the live album, which is due to be released this month (September). Titled "David Live," it contains 17 songs, most of them vastly redesigned instrumentally from the original album versions, and sung with the greater character and texture of Bowie's improved style. The first track - "1984" - burst into the room, and again he settled back in a chair to listen. While the album was playing, several of the musicians travelling with him and some of the MainMan staff came into the room to hear it. Bowie was very much a musician, not a "personality" in the manner of so many rock stars when they listen to their own music. He was like a fan pointing out special touches - some crisp guitar lick or a particularly hot saxophone solo - that delighted him. There were, quite justifiably, many reasons far his delight. Though it is a bit dangerous making such judgements on the basis of a single listening, "David Live" is quite possibly the best live rock album I've ever heard - an urgent, highly accessible, brilliantly performed collection. One of its special features is the absence of the long delays (for crowd applause) between songs. Just as one song dies down another begins. The result is a lively continuing pulse. As with Dylan and "Before the flood, " "David Live" updates Bowie's material - even though some of it is only a few months old - in a way that almost makes the original version irrelevant. Bowie's vocals give all sort of new insights and interpretations to the lyrics, particularly on songs like "Changes" and "All The Young Dudes." The album's only non-Bowie song is "Knock On Wood," the old R&B hit. Here is the order of songs on the album: •SIDE ONE: "1984," "Rebel Rebel," "Moonage Daydream," "Sweet Thing." •SIDE TWO: "Changes," "Suffragette City," "Aladdin Sane," "All The Young Dudes," "Cracked Actor." •SIDE THREE: "Rock 'N' Roll With Me," "Watch That Man," "Knock On Wood",."Diamond Dogs." •SIDE FOUR: "Big Brother," "The Width Of A Circle," "The Jean Genie," "Rock 'N' Roll Suicide." The album, clearly is a testament to a phase in Bowie's career that is as satisfying as the "Rock of Ages" album is to the first phase of the Band's career. And Bowie does, quite definitely, feel it is the end of a phase of his career. When someone suggested the live album could be subtitled "David Bowie Vol.1" He smiled in agreement. The first step in the new phase - even before the arrival of the next studio album - is the termination of his elaborate stage show. When his Los Angeles concerts are finished, he'll recross the U.S. with another tour, but this one, without the huge staging, will be a fairly straight concert. "I think I always know when to stop doing something," he said. "It's when the enjoyment is gone. That's why I've changed so much. I've never been of the opinion that it's necessarily a wise thing to keep on a successful streak if you're just duplicating all the time. "That's why I tend to be erratic. It's not a matter of being indulgent, I don't think. It's just a case of making sure I'm not bored, because if I'm bored then people can see it. I don't hide it very well. "Everything I do I get bored with eventually. It's knowing where to stop. "I have now done what I wanted to do three or four years ago. Stage an elaborate, colourful show… a fantasy … and I don't think I want to go any further with it because I know it can be done. "I know I could do an even bigger, grander kind of production. But when I know it can be done, I don't have to do it any more. "Doing a straight show is very exciting to me now; suddenly jumping into a new kind of tour after this one. Couldn't imagine just doing the same show over and over again. It would be terribly boring. That's why I gave up the last time. That's why I 'retired' last time." "Besides the new musical direction, Bowie's current enthusiasm is boosted by some new musicians who'll be joining him later in the year. He feels he finally has a band again. Andy Newmark, a drummer with Sly & The Family Stone, and Willie Weeks, a bassist who has worked with Aretha Franklin among many, will join him as soon as their present obligations are finished. Both men worked with Bowie on the new studio album and, like many who have read so much about the controversial Bowie Image, they approached the project with a bit of uncertainty. "When Andy, and Willie came to see me in the studio, they were very wary," Bowie admits with a smile. "They didn't know what to expect. They came in looking for silver capes and all, I imagine. "But once we started playing the songs, it worked itself out. It ended in a very, very solid friendship and a group that is going to work with me." Thus Bowie, as he prepares to recross the US seemed more confident and enthusiastic than on his first two visits here. He agreed things were going well. It might be just the kind of quote that'll make him shudder in some future moment of depression, but now it fits. "Yes, I really am more confident. I'm not sure it is supreme confidence or anything, but I am happier." ROBERT HILBURN   Rolling Stone (US) - 10 October 1974: Bowie: Time for Another Ch-Ch-Change LOS ANGELES…. David Bowie hadn't slept for 36 hours. He'd just gone through his rigorous show at the Universal Amphitheatre for the fourth night in a row (three to go), and he'd returned to the hotel to find a battlescarred Iggy Pop asleep in his bed. Now he lithely paced the living room and exuded the animal grace he sang of on Ziggy as he launched off on a speed-jive recital of a freaked-out moon-age daydream. He said that he comes up with one of these scripts every day, and he narrated it in an arrestingly manic rush, periodically springing from his chair to pace again, toying with an unlit cigarette for a solid half hour, ignoring the steak and potatoes that sat on the table beside him. He called it "a musical parody based on the mass death of tens of thousands of people," and it involves a mutant band called Impact whose star, one Cat Tastrophe, has a shocking effect on his immediate environment – when he -walks down the street old men collapse with heart attacks, children fall out of windows, shops explode and the roadway becomes a bloody battlefield of mangled steel. Cat himself is never touched. The punchline finally comes at an Impact concert, where accelerated aging is the day's disaster. When the teenage audience has become a dead heap of wrinkled flesh, the band's Warholish manager strolls onstage and asks, in a Truman Capote whine, "Well, should we give them an encore?" Bowie has always - been theatrical rock's straw hero. Somehow he found himself labelled a pioneer in a field in which he actually dabbled only minimally. On his first two U.S. tours, the extent of his theatre was a costume change every five minutes. On the tour that began earlier this summer and resumed that week in LA after a long intermission, he would suddenly and stunningly justify the theatrical tag with an elaborate presentation. And now, just as suddenly, it's going to change again. You could see it- happening at the Amphitheatre shows. The huge hand cradling Bowie inside the neon interior of a monolithic mirrored capsule, the astronaut's chair in which he floated over the stage during "Space Oddity," the movie lights, flashing camera, makeup man - and cocksucking skull that surrounded the "Cracked Actor," the frantic cubist skyline that loomed over it all the props were spectacular and effective. But the real moments, the screams and the hysterical assaults of the stage, were powered by Bowie himself and his mercurial parade of personalities the empty, pretty-boy movie star, the playful, lascivious bar crawler singing the legend of "The Jean Genie," and especially the unadorned, spontaneous David Bowie-as-entertainer with his audience in the palm of his hand.   The imminent change in Bowie's stage show is dictated by evolving musical interests, and the direction is becoming more and more pronounced. Eddie Floyd's Knock On Wood (which contains the Bowie-esque line, "Thunder, lightnin', the way you love me is frightnin' ") is in the show, and songs like Aladdin Sane, Changes, 1984," two new tunes: The Young American and It's Gonna Be Me, and particularly the extensively revised Bowie single, John, I'm Only Dancing, further reflect heavy involvement with black and Latin styles. According to the show's producer, Tony Zanetta, Bowie's long-smouldering interest in that sound surfaced during his long stay in New York in the spring, where he associated extensively with black and Puerto Rican musicians. Carlos Alomar played on some Lulu tracks he was mixing there, and Bowie's touring ensemble now includes former members of Santana and the Main Ingredient and several black backup vocalists, all of whom help transform the encore, John, I'm Only Dancing, into a Jackson Five-Graham Central Station rave-up. Accordingly, says Zanetta, the show that goes back on-the road October 5th (covering 20 cities-with at least two nights in nearly all of them) will be considerably altered. "The set's being redesigned," he says. "We want to use the essential elements of it, so we will be carrying the four towers with us and will keep the lighting in those towers, but we won't be using the bridge or any of the special effects. Basically, it'll be a much simpler thing. Originally, we were going to use this one for the whole tour, but once the first half finished and David started working on his new material, he felt that he would rather have something a little different, that he wanted to do something that was closer to the new material." "I've always thought that 'theatrical' wasn't the right word to describe David. I thought he was theatrical in that he was an extremely accomplished and professional performer and his abilities as a performer are those usually associated with the theatre rather than rock & roll.... What we did with this show was we created a really theatrical environment for him to work in. Which was interesting. Now, not so much because he's tired of that or sick of that, but because his music is changing and going in a slightly different direction, and because he wants to use more people, like lead vocalists, onstage, he's just interested in a different visual presentation." So for the moment Bowie has set a standard for those working at a coherent synthesis of theatre and rock. While they're at it, he's slipped out of his platform boots and into dancin' shoes as he boogaloos off into the final months of the Year of the Diamond Dogs. RICHARD CROMELIN   Rolling Stone (US) - 10 October 1974: Bowie: Philly Stopover: Fans and Funk PHILADELPHIA…. La Bowie and his entourage made elegant camp here for two weeks before the start of the West Coast swing of his current tour. Pitching tents amid the staid and somewhat geriatric prestige of Rittenhouse Square's Hotel Barclay, the Bowie mob had come from its New York headquarters after booking some 120 hours of recording time at Sigma Sound Studios, home of the Gamble-Huff-Bell R&B empire and one of the busiest hitmaking studios in the country. Bowie's intention had been to record with the rhythm section from MFSB, Sigma's resident body whose TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia) had recently pinned Philly Funk to the top of the charts for an extended reign. However, some confusion over commitments left Bowie with only MFSB conga player Larry Washington. Bowie then recruited a New York crew: guitarist Carlos Alomar, bassist Willie Weeks, drummer Andy Newmark and saxophonist David Sanborne, in addition to his pianist, Mike Garson, and some rafter-razing gospel in the voices of Ava Cherry, Luther Vandross and Alomar's wife, Robin. Tony Visconti engineered the sessions and was assisted by Sigma's Carl Paruolo. Accompanied by his secretary, Corinne Schwab, and his bodyguard, Stuart George and frequently visited in the studio by wife Angela and son Zowie, both of whom had checked into the Barclay with him–Bowie made nightly journeys to Sigma. For a corps of ten "Bowiemaniacs" who maintained a sleep-out vigil in front of Sigma and who greeted, begged autographs and won kind words from their main man upon his entrances and exits (Bowie worked from the early evening into the late morning), the Sigma sessions were apparently as traumatic as they were God-sent. Bowie had decided that the faithful would be brought into the studio after completion of the album for a party. But that didn't happen until early in the morning of the final session, after Bowie had put in a long night of finishing touches some vocal fragments, a few overdubbed keyboard parts and some additional harmonies from Ava, Robin and Luther. The album, thanks to Bowie's organized approach he would prepare reams of precise arrangements during the day for efficient, methodical run-throughs at night had come together quickly and, it appeared, to the considerable satisfaction of all concerned. So much so that, by the final night, the atmosphere in Sigma's second-floor studio had depressurised to a state of genial calm.   The album, which Mike Garson has suggested Bowie call Somebody Up There Likes Me, arguably the strongest and most immediately engaging of the seven songs, seems far from the conceptual mosaicism of past efforts such as Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogs, and is perhaps the first Bowie album you'll be able to dance to all the way through. Bowie's version of Philly Sound a slickly stylised, "discophonic" brand of urban soul pioneered at Sigma by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Thom Bellis largely propelled by the soaring vocal backup of Ava, Luther and Robin, while behind them the instrumentalists produce a blistering rhythm. The songs range from a new, remarkably revamped version of John, I'm Only Dancing – once a straight-ahead rocker and now rhythmically expanded, ultraprogressive excursion- to new material in a superbly soulful vein. Apart from the obvious single, Somebody Up There Likes Me, there is an extended, magnificently punctuated torch song, It's Gonna Be Me, featuring an aching vocal from Bowie that should keep Al Green and Marvin Gaye on their toes; bouncy, high-humoured number, The Young American, written recently enough to treat Richard Nixon in the past tense, and the album's closer, Right! –an exhortation of the funk God. Bowie played the album for the ten blissed-out, formerly camped-out, devotees, who'd been ushered into the studio, finally, at 5AM by Stuart George. With wine, tears and adulation flowing around and from the blessed, Bowie was an affable host as he signed more autographs, apologised for the unfinished mix of the album and agreed to play it a second time, at which point the party erupted into dance. Bowie took centre floor with a foxy stomp. MATT DAMSKER   Circus Raves (US) - November 1974: Show Biz Whiz of the Seventies - but is it Rock ‘n’ Roll? At 3 P.M. on a sunny Philadelphia day, tensions were mounting. The throng around the Tower Theatre, only two hours away from experiencing an actual David Bowie concert, rubbed restlessly against each other, fervently clutching their precious tickets. Scheduled at the last minute due to an unprecedented demand, this show meant a lot to Bowie fans. For many it was their only chance. He was to leave town tomorrow. Suddenly, all action stopped cold, when the milling throng heard the report resounding from a nearby radio: “The 5 o’clock David Bowie show is cancelled – all tickets will be refunded when the banks open – cancellation due to health reasons.” Many stood stunned; others cursed, vowing to crash the 9 o’clock show . Others drifted away, dazed. Those who wandered down to the Bellevue Stratford Hotel sought an ersatz glimpse of the superstar. Eliciting stares from the other hotel guests, the green-haired sequined members of the “Bowie Blood” following in clusters, attempting entry to the guarded fourth floor, beamed proudly if mistaken for Bowie. They all wanted to know what was wrong with Bowie – why did he cancel? Was it drugs? Exhaustion? Perhaps Bowie, unused to touring, just couldn’t keep up the pace? Was it all over? The fans wanted to know. Languishing in his room, unaware of the downstairs turmoil, Bowie was not quite the physical wreck of his fans’ imaginations. As a friend confided, “he isn’t sick – no one told him in time about the matinee!” And, as the 9 o’clock show revealed, instead of falling apart, the show, in fact, steamrollered to a triumphant climax. It was David Bowie’s most successful feat ever, commercially, and to some people, artistically, Bowie’s show had become a one man vehicle. It was a new version of an old tradition. But people weren’t sure if it was Frank Sinatra or Edith Piaf; Music Hall or Brechtian classic theater. All that was certain was that  Bowie was reviving some dramatic magic and attempting to splice it to rock. For Bowie, the dissatisfied popster who stalked off the stage of the Hammersmith Odeon to fade into an uncommonly active retirement, the Diamond Dogs tour was a bark in a new direction. The tour indicated that Bowie had not come back to rock, but had “gone beyond” his former medium. On the Diamond Dogs tour, the carrot- topped crooner was first and foremost a showman, weaving a delicate blend of theater and melody. But the question hovered – could it work on the rock ‘n’ roll circuit? Rock show sweep: A little over a year ago Bowie had swept over Europe, Russia, Japan and the Americas with a rock show that had dazzled a generation. “He was the hope of a decade,” said a noted critic with a hint of sadness in his voice, as he thought back upon the razored guitar work of ex-Bowie man Mick Ronson and the intense interplay of the Spiders with the arching-voiced singer. “Yes, Bowie was the hope of a generation, but now… I think he’s confused.” What was confusing of the total sell-out tour? The bi-sexual bomber attracted adamantly unconfused new fans like bears to honey. Only dyed-in-the- wool Ziggy Stardust and Hunky Dory fanatics seemed befuddled. The press, too, however, seemed bewildered, puzzling over the Diamond Dogs experience like archaeologists over a moon slab in an Egyptian dig. Said one scribe for a British rock journal: “Bowie walks a thin line between contrivance and brilliance… if he’s dwarfed by the set and the theatrics, he’s also at the hub of the excitement.” “It was the most sensational spectacle in ‘rock’,” scribbled another writer, “but there wasn’t an iota of spontaneity about it. The colonel Parker touch is there forever.” “He may be the Ann Margaret of the Seventies,” quipped an underground pundit, “but is it Rock and Roll?” A New York Times critic put his analytical brain cap on the subject, noting that Bowie was fusing two controversial pop elements – glitter and theater. “Glitter is either a portent of the future sexual norm, or an overhyped fad,” expounded the gotham press’ John Rockwell. “Theatrics is either the wave of rock future or a pretentious distortion of rock’s musical basics… In combining the two so assertively, Mr. Bowie has assured himself a prominent place in our attentions.” Whichever side of the fence the Bowie-watchers hopped over, all had to admit that the Diamond Dogs tour was “culture for the masses,” and prominent culture at that. The audiences adored it. And for a reason. Rejecting the pattern of booking concerts into mammoth arenas (except in New York City), David insisted on a majority of legitimate theatres, enabling the audience to experience, close-up, the startling display of sets and staging that struck people speechless from Pittsburgh to Palm Beach. In one Florida town, Tampa, however, the troupe was forced to perform without their sets – since a bee’s untimely attack on the truck driver sent their props barrelling into a snake-infested swamp. Nonetheless, from all reports, including David’s own excited version, the show was exhilarating, and the ovation, thunderous. David performed his only encore of the tour there. Part of the reason for the show’s strength was, unquestionably, the talent of Musical Director Michael Kamen, the ringleted turquoise-laden keyboard playing force behind the tight aggregate of musicians onstage, and a multi-talented artist in his own right. The leader of the inventive, classically- influenced New York Rock and Roll Ensemble for several years, he decided to try the other road – applying the rock aesthetic to a classical form, and snatched up a commission to write a ballet based on Rodin’s sculpture. As luck would have it, Bowie was in the audience at one of the performances and was so impressed with Michael’s interpretation, that he asked mutual friend, pulchritudinous Cherry Vanilla, to introduce them. They clicked. Delighted by David’s unique perceptions and intelligence, Michael signed on to the growing production, taking charge of assembling the band and arranging the material. He is actually in charge of much more now, being a heavyweight, an artist and a direct line into the Bowie “mystical inner circle.” In between the rattles of the tour bus and the English-accented din generated by the raucous band, Michael began in clipped tones to explain some of Bowie’s peculiar talent. “A beautifully egocentric performer, aware of his capabilities, as Bowie is, lives for the stage – could never retire from it. Instead,” Michael insisted, “he wanted to elevate the show from rock ‘n’ roll to legitimate theatre and mime, his background. The music fits beautifully – dramatically underscoring his brilliant lyrics , it certainly isn’t overshadowed by the staging. The entire effort is one of collaboration, not co-operation. Everybody feels it – down to the last man on the stage crew.” Certainly there are snags in the superstar image, as is David’s relationship to his audience – Open mouths: “He understands his audience – gauging very accurately what they will react to at certain points,” continued the choreographer. “He’s really saying something to them, people don’t go wild throughout the show, they sit there with their mouths open watching – they leave the theatre asking themselves questions about what it was all about. He relates to them and they want to listen.” On a more personal level, he extends his arm into the audience, often almost losing it to zealous fans, thanks them for presents, chats. And, a tough task for a tightly paced show – he inserts special numbers for a particular city, learned in lieu of a pre-show sound check. In Philly, “Knock on Wood” and “Round and Round,” done as an encore, caused wild frenzy. David, it seems, likes to keep moving, changing. “An obvious example of his changeability was his new look – a more muted appearance complete with a softly shaped hairstyle colored the red of Miami matrons in need of a touch-up. When he moved, though, he broadcast the same unisexual, panther-like presence. Merely the clothes and make-up have tempered – annoying fans such as the four drag queens in Ottawa who took a peek at him backstage and wailed “We spent six months getting our hair, make-up and clothes together and now we have to re-do it!” For the majority pleased with the new Bowie, there are more treats in store. The Philadelphia and New York concerts, remixed with the Philadelphia soul sound, will be the basis of a live tour album. And, unless it remains in his private screening room, a videotape capturing the stellar performances in those two cities might make its way to the local TV screen. Until then, there’s still Diamond Dogs. LAURIE WERNER   Disc (UK) - 7 December 1974: Bowie up the Amazon…English Tour in May BOWIE and entourage were ensconced in old world Philadelphia elegance at the Barclay Hotel. I arrive at the hotel, the entrance littered with the usual array of Bowie fans - in fact one girl I recognised from a similarly endowed New York hotel, in short Bowie precipitates the sort of fanaticism only afforded to a true star. I had previously arranged to meet Mike Garson - pianist extraordinary - in order to accompany him to the sound check for the night's show at Philies' answer to Madison Square Garden, the Spectrum. This show was the second in Philadelphia - the first having been November 18 and was added due to the immediate sell-out of the first show. (The show of the 25th wasn't a sell-out but Bowie felt more comfortable with the audience due to their now mutual familiarity, and it was therefore felt to be, overall, more successful). Anyway, on to the sound check with Garson and some of the other musicians. As the Spectrum is a vast arena accustomed to holding audiences of 20,000 for sporting events and the like, the necessity for an accurate sound check and rehearsal was imperative even though Bowie himself did not attend. These preliminaries were supervised by Mr. Garson and the line-up of musicians in "The Mike Garson Band" - who were all in attendance apart from one of the women singers, Ava Cherry, (a close Bowie cohort) is as follows: One sax player, one rhythm guitarist, one lead guitarist, bass guitarist, two women singers, three men singers, one drummer, one percussionist. The full line-up comes to thirteen players - and the only hold overs from the Diamond Dogs tour are Mike Garson, Jeff (a longtime close Bowie associate, one of the male singers), Earl Slick, the lead guitarist, and Pablo, the percussionist. (It's interesting that all the singers aside from Jeff, are black, trained in a very funky rhythm and blues vein - as are all the musicians aside from Slick (the guitarist) the sax player, and Garson. After the sound check, at the dinner provided for the band backstage, I had a chance to have a few words with Mike Garson: as The Garson Band open the show and Mike is doing all the musical arrangements for Bowie as well as playing on stage in addition to piano - string ensemble (an electronic piano adapted to sound like strings) moog, electric piano, organ and clavinet, it's obvious that his importance to the Bowie production has never been greater.   I asked him why it was that he's been with Bowie longer than any other musician. He said he felt it was "because of the 'stability'. In the music world, this quality is a bit rare. Also, I'm efficient, I do my job, I can take the responsibility. In addition I have changeability - this is important because Bowie doesn't stop! I can go with it, and play it. I'm adaptable." This ability to change, I felt was a reference to mikes musical expertise - there's no limit to the styles of playing he can use to develop and create a new style of song. Mike also felt that his "stability" was important in handling the rigors of being on the road and leading with thirteen other musicians. "Most people don't fall short on the bandstand, I keep the peace." If at times, he feels estranged from the others - music is their common ground, and he says, "I'm never lonely on the road because I'm always thinking about arrangements, practising and talking to Bowie about any musical ideas we should think of developing." Well, it was literally five minutes before the show Mike had to rush as Bowie was just running in with Ava Cherry. After Memphis, Nashville and Atlanta (December 1) this tour will be completed. Bowie will be leaving for a month tour of the Amazon villages taking a boat to Cuerracas via car with singer and friend, Jeff. A singing tour of Brazil will begin on January 10 and will last for three weeks. Plans have been made for a tour of Europe beginning in April, and a tour of England in May. The format for these upcoming tours, including the English tour, will be very similar to the current tour - the same soul/rhythm and blues orientation and line-up of musicians. The new album has just been finished. It was recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, and Bowie was delighted at working there ("no hassled", he said). The title of the new album is "FASCINATION" and the names of the songs on it are: John, I'm Only Dancing, Young American, Fascination, Right, Win, It's Gonna Be Me, Can You Hear Me. The singing, on Win, in particular, has a real soul flavour, a bit reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield. The words to Fascination perhaps a little patronising - Fascination Sho' Nuff is a part of me! As a postscript, it could be noted that offstage Bowie was wearing a brown one piece jumpsuit, very bright orange hair, with blond in the front of the hairline.     Hit Parader (US) - December 1974: On Tour With Bowie If you recall my story last month on the rigors of touring with Mott the Hoople, you may remember that I resolved that I would indeed go through it all again if someone asked me. Well, someone did – who else but my old friend and benefactor, MainMan. And for what else but the Bowie tour. While not asked to go on the whole tour, I was asked to a portion of it – Toronto and Detroit – my purpose being to photograph the shows and supply MainMan with the shots. This, you may or may not know, is quite a rare privilege. MainMan’s rules against photographers at Bowie concerts are legend, and although relaxed considerably this tour, they are still in effect. Since for the past two years during Bowie’s rise to superstardom I had worked exclusively for MainMan, I had always been allowed to photograph when and where I pleased. Just prior to this tour, however, I had severed my ties with MainMan, and was, therefore, not at all certain if I would be allowed to continue my photographic work for Bowie. As you can imagine, their invitation to Toronto was a welcome answer to my uncertainty. Right off the bat I can tell you that this tour would be nothing like Mott’s. Bowie’s tours are notoriously well run and disciplined. Everything and everyone is expected to be where he can do the most good and to stay there. Backstage and after the show hotel adventures are almost non- existent since Bowie basically prefers peace and quiet and Stuart George, his bodyguard, is always there to insure it. Another element that I felt sure would make a difference in this tour was the fact that Bowie was using an almost totally non-rock & roll crew provided by his set and lighting designer, Jules Fisher. Fisher is famous for his work in the theatre and for his adept mounting of such road shows as "Jesus Christ, Superstar." Since it was reasoned that Bowie’s show would in many ways be like a Broadway musical on tour, it only seemed logical to get a theatre person to oversee it. So there would be none of the familiar rock and roll roadie faces that you get used to seeing in varying numbers backstage at nearly everyone’s shows. There would also, presumably, be none of the rock and roll fuck-ups you also get used to on nearly everyone’s tours. This, I would have to see to believe. Although Toronto was to be the first performance I would see and photograph, it was not the first of the tour. The tour began two days earlier in Montreal and was, I am told, accompanied by all the madness, excitement, and rooms full of flowers one expects at opening nights. The show, too, came off nicely and everyone danced until dawn. The next night in Ottawa, playing a large arena used mostly for hockey games, it seems the fans went bananas and bent their flimsy metal folding chairs into pretzels and made them into one huge, towering free-form chair sculpture in the middle of the floor. Now that’s what I call audience involvement. This must be some show. So, with the reports of those two nights fresh in my memory I boarded the plane for Toronto. On the plane with me was little Zowie Bowie who would also be seeing the show for the first time this tour. I remember his amazement when over a year before he had seen his father perform for the first time. He was a mere two years old then and the lights and music were enough to astonish anyone. Now, after tucking Japanese and British tours into his realm of experience, he calmly noted that he was going to Toronto to watch Daddy make the money for dinner. After he had made this stop ostensibly to check on things, he was going to accompany his governess, Marion, on a vacation to Scotland while Daddy continued to bring home the bacon in America. Toronto was to be a important date on the tour. It was the third show, thus allowing the two previous ones as warm-ups. It was also in a theatre as opposed to a hockey rink. For these reasons, then, MainMan and RCA decided this would be the show to debut the new Bowie to the "heavy" music press. So, needless to say, excitement was running high. Due to conventions or summer tourist influx or something, all the hotels were nearly full. It was impossible to get the huge Bowie entourage in one hotel, so we found ourselves divided among three. The one I was in was the Hotel Windsor Arms, a small, sophisticated inn straight out of another century. It was not the hotel Bowie or the press were at. They had drawn the larger and more modern (24 hour room service) Hyatt Regency. My hotel housed the MainMan executive staff, their guests, and the Bowie family. The road crew was at the third hotel whose name I forget. Our afternoon arrival left us scant time to prepare since due to the fact that there were two shows that night, the first curtain time was a very early seven-thirty. So, I hurried and dressed and then rushed to Tony DeFries’ suite where we were to meet for departure to the theatre. There are many people both in and out of the industry who are very curious about Mr. DeFries. He is, of course, the other mind (besides Bowie’s) responsible for the staggering success Bowie has realized in these past two years. He is also the creator of MainMan complete with all its policies and eccentric demands. To say he has revolutionized the music industry (which has more revolutions than any Latin American country) would be just playing with words. But, there are a lot of other management and record companies who have taken second looks at their own policies after having a gander at his. Anyway, there isn’t much I can tell you about him beyond this. He is not a public person and never, never leaves himself open to scrutiny. I can however, describe to you the scene upon entering his suite at the Hotel Windsor Arms since I find it typical of all times I have entered his suite, in all the grand hotels in cities all over the world. First of all, unless something unforeseen arises, it is always the largest suite in the hoteland in this hotel nothing unforeseen had arisen. Melanie, DeFries’ lady, answered the door in a flesh colored satin dressing gown that swept the floor behind her. She was, of course, not ready yet. The position of the hands on the clock has less meaning in this suite than any place else I have found. They are never on time, but somehow never late. After proceeding down a hall that had many doors that must have led into unused bedrooms I was deposited in a sitting room. Already present were Angela Bowie and Dana Gillespie. Both were stunning – Dana in satin that swirled in shades of purple and Angela in pink and beige chiffon that literally floated on the air. Gene Tierney was in dark shiny silk. Sampling some zubrovka just offered to her by Clifton Webb. ("The Razor’s Edge" was on TV.) Had I chosen the movie myself I couldn’t have picked a better one. In the movie Gene Tierney. Clifton Webb, Anne Baxter and others are having a light lunch at the Ritz in Paris while soft music plays. The same music complimented perfectly our hotel room as we munched fresh strawberries and sipped a very light white wine. All that was missing was the zubrovka which Gene Tierney thinks tastes like moonlight on white roses and I think tastes like kerosene. For about half an hour the group of us (some on TV and some in person) listened to the same music and carried on approximately the same conversation. The only exception being that Anne Baxter had managed to leave the Ritz and get herself murdered in this span of time. Finally, just as Zowie and Marion arrived, Melanie and DeFries appeared. Melanie had changed into a gown suitable for public display made of the same exquisite flesh colored satin. Tony DeFries was in a very respectable dark brown, three-piece suit – with a matching cigar. "The Razor’s Edge" ended with Gene Tierney, the villainess, left alone and crying as we headed out for the concert. O’Keefe Center in Toronto is a nice respectable theatre that features nice respectable acts for the most part. They were a little concerned about the riots that might ensue at the Bowie show and had for that reason put on extra security guards. From the looks of the place with its many, uniformed guards, and buzzers that let you move slowly through a series of doors as you prove your validity with various bits of identification, , it looked like we were preparing for an appearance by a highly unpopular political figure rather than a pop star. Suddenly, in the middle of it all appeared the object of all this drama – a slight little figure with tousled red hair, a big smile, and kind of funny eyes. He didn’t seem too dangerous and on top of it all he couldn’t even talk. That’s right folks – two shows to do that night and the star has laryngitis. He could hardly speak above a whisper. In rock and roll there are no little Ruby Keeler understudies waiting in the wings for just such a disaster. No star, no show. So, with about half an hour to showtime the emergency measures began, mainly tea with honey and lemon. He was cautioned not to talk and hustled off to his dressing room to be made ready should his voice return. The only people inside were Corinne Schwab, his personal assistant, and Jac Colanda, his dresser. Stuey stood guard, everyone else waited. A room had been provided for this purpose equipped with chairs and beer and as Zowie entertained with stories that mostly center around witches and beanstalks and that sort of thing everyone watched showtime come and go. Finally, word came out that although it wasn’t too strong, Bowie had definitely come up with some sort of voice and we should all immediately proceed to our seats because the curtain was going up. I had been thoughtfully provided with a first row seat so I could have a home base from which to shoot my pictures. Angela, Zowie, and the rest of the entourage were in the second row directly behind me. The lights dimmed, the crowd cheered, an anonymous voice announced that Bowie’s voice was not all it should be, and a tape started with everything on it but the "Ode to Joy". Finally, after the tape had taken us through all manner of frightening noises, the music started and out danced Bowie. The pleasant, voiceless guy of an hour before had been magically transformed into a demon of light and music that took hold of his audience and didn’t let go. The stage was in a state of siege from the beginning. The guards for all their uniforms and plans were tossed aside like paper dolls. I have been in front of many audiences at many rock shows and thereby suffered many a bruise and scrape, but let me warn you now – never, never sit in front of Angela Bowie. She is a fan of the most physical sort. Accompanied by hysterical screams and sighs, she proceeds to beat on everyone in her vicinity in time to the music. It is all done in the name of love, of course, and except for once in Japan where I left the theatre with a limp I have never suffered any permanent damage at her hands. In this audience, however, Angela was just one of the crowd. Everyone went crazy. There was dancing in the aisles, flowers were thrown on the stage by the dozen, and several fans tried to throw themselves with the flowers, but the guards had by this time marshalled their forces and ably defended the front lines. As for the show itself, you have no doubt read a great deal about it already, so I needn’t add my description to the others. The set designed by Jules Fisher was effective even though the moving catwalk high above the stage did not move. The glass asylum which opens to expose a black velvet hand holding Bowie backed by mirrors and blacklights was of course the most stunning visual effect. Bowie, himself, was in fine form. Possibly feeling he had to compensate for his weakened voice, his dancing and mime were unparalleled. The show was a good long one and brought the audience to a state of frenzy. He even did an encore ( a rare occurrence on this tour.) The audiences, I feel I should mention, were heavily influenced by previous Bowie tours, and showed up in space suits and glitter. Bowie was in a modest light blue Yves St. Laurent style suit with a little sweater and never changed costumes except for slipping on a trench coat for one number and a Shakespearean jacket for another. The fans did not show any disappointment, however, and probably by the time you are reading this, they are all wearing modest Yves St. Laurent suits (but who knows what Bowie is wearing now.) After the show, Bowie retired to his dressing room for more tea and honey and no one saw him except for a brief visit from Angela and Zowie. The rest of us were ushered into a large room where someone had prepared a Chinese feast to tide us over until the next show. So everyone gobbled chinese food and played "Seduce the Doorman" who was one of the most beautiful blond boys anyone had ever seen, but was totally oblivious to the glamorous throng trying to gain his attention. Bowie’s voice returned for another bout and we headed out for the second show. The press had been treated to a regular sit-down dinner during the first show, so this would be the only one they would see from which to write their reports. They had been rather inequitably seated in the first and the thirty-second row. I had been allotted a second row seat for this show with an empty spot next to me for equipment. Lisa Robinson, Hit Parader’s editor, forsook her thirty-second row spot to join me. Angela and Dana were in the first row over to the side this time, and Marion had taken Zowie home (it was past his bedtime.) Surprisingly, Bowie’s voice had gained a little more strength and the show went wonderfully. The catwalk moved gracefully up and down. The flying chair used for "Space Oddity" descended smoothly. And Lisa Robinson took what seemed like hundreds of pages of notes. The guards, however, were better prepared for the second onslaught and managed to hold the wave of fans back to about the tenth row. Near the end of the show it is my usual practice to induce the guards to let the fans come forward as it usually makes for a happier ending all around if the fans can get closer to Bowie for the finale. This time, unfortunately, I was rather uncomfortably trapped in the middle of the second row and couldn’t get out. I managed to get Angela’s attention and motioned to her that the fans should be let forward. She agreed and approached the guards to arrange it. As she tapped one on the shoulder, he whirled and grabbing her by the throat threw her over a couple of rows of seats. As I madly tried to get to the aisle to help her I also managed to trip over several people and, cameras and all, went sprawling in the aisle. When I reached the guard he was trying to strangle Angela and for some reason I will never understand was glad to release her into my custody. We fled backstage. There was no encore. (Later, when someone questioned the guard, he said he thought she might be someone sneaking up behind him and she might have had a weapon. Really.)   After this show, we were all loaded into our separate cars and returned to our respective hotels. This does not make for very wild parties. A few half- hearted phone calls followed from one hotel to another. A few people at my hotel ventured over to the Hyatt. These few were unfortunately the only ones who had had the foresight to order wine for their rooms before they left for the show that night as our hotel did not feature late night room service. So, the rest of us were left with no booze, no fun, and sad but true, no TV. The regular channels had signed off and our vintage television sets were not equipped with the famous UHF channels that exhibit moderately hardcore porn late at night. Various members of the "heavy" music press were watching something about Swedish girls on their more modern sets, I am told. Tony Zanetta, president of MainMan, and I decided to wander the streets in search of adventure and maybe end up at the other hotel. When we went down to the lobby, we were presented by the desk clerk with a black rose – very black, complete with a black stem and thorns. A fan had left it. We decided it was an omen and went back upstairs to bed. Angela and David sat up very late chatting with friends. David prefers to relax after the show in this way. The next morning my TV was working again and, as I packed, I watched a very personable Canadian lady discuss the various ghosts she had exorcised from people’s homes. The flight home was uneventful. Tony DeFries and Melanie missed it (I guess they’re late sometimes.) I had a week in New York to finish up the pictures I had done in Toronto before I was to go to Detroit for my second go at it. The pictures from Toronto turned out very nice. They reassured me that my initial impressions of the show had been correct – especially about the set which was striking in the photographs. When the review from the press began to appear I was further reassured. They were universally favorable. While I was in New York, Bowie was still on the road – "makin’ the bacon." Somehow, his voice had healed itself, even though it was given no rest period. He proceeded from Toronto directly to Rochester, then two shows on successive nights in Cleveland, and the Toledo (that same terrible circus arena I had just been in with Mott). Finally, he had a day off in Detroit, before he was to do two shows there – one Saturday, one Sunday. I was not there on his day off, but I understand he spent that evening at a small night club operated by John Sinclair in a downtown Detroit hotel. Remember John Sinclair. He was on of the ones who fought the revolution for us in the late sixties. I guess we must have won – he has his own bar now. Saturday morning in New York, it rained – it poured. Our car was late to take us to the airport. We all got wet. No one was smiling. In an effort to cheer us up, Jaime Andrews, MainMan’s vice-president, bought everyone his own magazine. He picked each one individually, and allotted me "Rona Barret’s Gossip". He couldn’t have done better. Nothing could cheer me up more easily. Rona, incidentally, is quite a follower of Mr. and Mrs. Bowie and had dutifully included a few items about them in this issue. The best item however, was about Zsa Zsa Gabor. It seems while strolling the streets of London recently, she was spotted by a small British girl who shouted. "Mommy, Mommy, look. It’s Danny LaRue!" (Danny LaRue, in case you don’t know, is the famous British transvestite who might be even older than Zsa Zsa.) After everyone had read this, things seemed rosier. About one minute before departure, Tony DeFries and Melanie showed up. The flight got crazier as we drained little liquor bottles like "Nickel-Nip". Melanie trotted back from her first class seat to visit those of us in the steerage and a regular little party ensued. By the time we landed in Detroit we were ready for anything – anything but what happened. Our hotel in Detroit is one of my favorite hotels, The St. Regis Sheraton. It is small and friendly and has rugs on the floor as opposed to the usual shag carpeting. Its one drawback is its lack of room service on Sunday, but as we check in we were told proudly that hotel policy had changed and they now had room service on Sundays until ten o’clock. Hooray. We were all starving and planned to change clothes quickly and rush right out to a nice restaurant for a real feed. We had a few hours until showtime. We had been in our rooms only about ten minutes when a knock came on each door with the announcement that no one was to leave the hotel. It was like a murder mystery. Everyone came out of their rooms into the hall. All mystified. No one knew what was up. The messenger knew no more than he told us. "Stay in the hotel until further notice from Tony DeFries." So we did. In about half an hour our phones began to ring. There would be no show that night. We were free to do as we pleased. The show the next night was on – so far. After a little research, this is the story I uncovered. Some one had unwisely booked Bowie into the Ford Auditorium, a small, beautifully equipped theatre with only one drawback. That same afternoon they were having a high school commencement. After the Commencement the Bowie crew would have about three hours to set up a set that takes twelve hours to build. Impossible. So, no show. I decided to go see Bowie. I was met at the door to his suite by Corinne – or rather one of her eyes as this is all I could see through the tiny opening as she peered out at me. "I’d like to see David, please." I said. The inch the door had opened, closed again. I waited. In a minute, the door opened fully and a smiling Corinne apologized that Stuey was not in and surely I understood that she had to clear all guests through Bowie before anyone could get in. I understood. If I were Bowie, I would do the same or worse. He is under a constant barrage of fans, press, and well-meaning company representatives. I found Bowie sitting up in bed sipping tea and watching TV and reading and talking to Jaime and occasionally nibbling at a fruit salad. This is where he likes to be most I think, as this is where I find him most. (Once in Hollywood after we had spent the morning swimming and sun-bathing, we went to visit Bowie. Of course, we found him in bed just as described. "It’s a beautiful, fabulous day", we cried. "The sun is shining, it’s warm, it’s fabulous!" "Oh really," he said, "in that case, open the window.") Anyway, here in Detroit, he was in excellent spirits, although a little disappointed that the show had been cancelled. He was anxious to do it in Detroit to see their reaction. Although Detroit is a very rock and roll oriented town, they are not an easy audience. He was anxious to show them his new show. The compensation was that he would play in Detroit – the next night in huge Cobo Hall. We looked over pictures, chatted about the show, and gossiped a little. He had decided he would not go out that night. I had decided I would. I left. Corinne showed me to the door. We decided to go to Gagan’s, a large, always crowded dance bar that sometimes featured drag shows. Various members of Detroit’s music culture joined us at he hotel for a drink before departure. Mark Parrento, a disc jockey for WABX in Detroit, urged that Bowie accompany us. I thought it unwise as there might be disgruntled fans who had been deprived of a show that night. I was right. It took only a few minutes after our arrival for the clientele to figure out who we were (we were with Parrento and Ben Edmonds, editor of Creem, both of them dead give-aways that we were in the music business). Well, it seemed that everyone in that bar had tickets for the ill-fated Saturday night show and they all wanted a personal explanation about what happened. They soon calmed down, however, and then things were great. We made a lot of friends, danced till we dropped, and very successfully released the tensions of a night without a show. The next morning I woke up pretty early – eleven A.M. I was famished. My hand was on the phone as I awoke. I called room service. I rang and rang. I called the desk. I got no answer at room service I told them and I’m hungry. They weren’t surprised. It was Sunday (I was told and room service ends at ten o’clock. TEN O’CLOCK! You mean ten o’clock in the morning? Yes, I went crazy. No one wakes up at ten o’clock in the morning. True, the desk clerk had said room service ended at ten, but I never dreamed he meant A.M. And no I didn’t want to come down to the restaurant. Suddenly, it dawned on them I must be in the Bowie party. A special dispensation had been arranged for us it seems, and what was it that I wanted for breakfast. Whew. After spending the day at the art museum seeing a Diane Arbus exhibit we prepared for Cobo Hall. This show was on. The set-up had gone beautifully and everything would be in perfect working order. The lights were wonderful. Bowie’s voice was in fine form. As we approached the hall the crush of people was staggering. Besides the 16,000 kids who had turned out in high Bowie drag for the show, an adjacent hall was hosting a convention of accountants and yet another featured a Baptist’s convention. Let me tell you, that was mind boggling for all concerned. I have rarely seen a rock show so effective as that night. Everything went exactly as planned and the fans showed their appreciation wildly. I had not been accorded a seat for this how, not that that would have helped as no one had a seat after the first couple of numbers. Literally everyone it seemed crushed toward the stage. The ushers were pretty helpless although they tried to keep order. At the front of this mass so I could get good pictures, I broke nearly everything I owned. My camera, my ribs, my heels – you name it, someone stepped on it. I must commend Stuey and Eric Barrett, the road manager, for watching out for me so well despite their many other duties. When the crush would become so unbearable as to make it impossible for me to work, they would always appear to coax people back a little so I could breathe. At the end of the show they just lifted me straight up onto the stage and away to safety. Boy oh boy, what a show.  After the show was everything you might expect. The hotel was mobbed. The halls were full of fans who once they were inside the hotel didn’t quite know what to do. All they knew was that they had to get out of sight or else they might get thrown out. Outside there were hundreds more who couldn’t sneak in at all. Once I opened my door for a minute only to hear a shout of, "There’s an open door. Let’s go there." I looked out to see a couple of dozen crazed teenagers racing my way. I closed my door just in time. Don’t get me wrong. My room was full of crazed fans too, but enough is enough. In a few hours the halls had been cleared and things had quieted down. The people in my room insisted on watching "Speakeasy", a show I find sadly boring, and the people next door were playing backgammon, a game I don’t understand. So, I decided to go visit Bowie. Surprisingly, getting into his room this evening was easier than the day before. Inside was a small gathering of friends and a beaming Bowie – radiant after his success. Corinne and Ava Cherry were serving as hostesses, and after supplying me with wine, left me to my own devices. Other than the fact that I met the wife of someone who played on the original "Space Oddity" recording, there is little to report. None of the furniture got smashed; as indeed did none of the people. Something tells me that both the Baptists and the accountants were having wilder parties that night than us. But, I’ll bet you could never have convinced them of that. After a while I returned to my room. "Speakeasy" had mercifully ended and things had degenerated to the usual very late, very tired, very drunk senseless conversation. I am very good at this sort of thing and talked for hours. When everyone finally left, I was still not done. Jaime, Linda Palermo and Joey Gatti (MainMan publicists), and I managed to find an all night restaurant and gorged cheeseburgers and hotcakes until dawn. The next morning I blearily stumbled into the hotel restaurant where we were to assemble for the journey home. There was Tony DeFries looking dapper enough for Women’s Wear Daily. He looked up at me, smiled, and said, "Ah, Leee, there you are. Looking a little pale this morning in true vampire tradition." Charming. Somehow, we all helped each other onto the plane and settled back for the final ride home and maybe some sleep. Fat chance. Somewhere up in the stratosphere we hit a bump. As fate would have it, lunch had just been served and as the plane lurched and then dropped what felt like hundreds of feet in a second, everyone’s meat loaf, corn, and tossed salad sailed up in the air and landed on the person in front of them. Of course, there were the initial shrieks and screams, but in all, everyone took it pretty well. We were a sight, of course, with lettuce in our hair and gravy down our shirts, but all we could think of was what did Tony DeFries look like now. We asked the stewardess to please check on him for us and when she asked us where he was sitting, we told her he was up front. Innocently, her eyes widened and with her sweet stewardess smile she explained, ""Oh, he’s all right. He's in first class." "What? Did she really mean the bump was just for us back in the cheap seats. Yep. It seems the tail had flipped up and then back down. The first class passengers barely felt it. So, yet another stint on the road ends. A smiling Tony DeFries met us as we came dripping off the plane. The stewardess was right. Not a loose crumb on his lapel. The tour ended for me, but as of this writing, of course, Bowie is still out there making sure little Zowie has new shoes. Just as a post script, I can fill you in on a couple of major events that have happened recently. For one, Bowie’s car broke down somewhere between Nashville and Memphis and Bowie, Corinne, and Stuey had to hitchike on the side of the road in Tennessee. The other event – a bee, it seems, flew in the window of the truck carrying the massive set and stung the driver. He drove the truck into a swamp somewhere near Tampa, Florida. (So much for the theatre road crew) Bowie went on that night on a bare stage. He says it’s the best audience reception he’s had to date. So the tours go on and on. Bowie’s doing seventy cities in the fall. I bet you could write a book about that one. LEEE BLACK CHILDERS     New Musical Express (UK) - 14 December 1974: Bowie European Tour - Unique Presentation David Bowie will definitely tour Britain and Europe in the spring, he revealed in Philadelphia at the weekend. He will play selected dates at major venues in April, May and June. It is almost certain that Wembley Stadium will be included in his itinerary, and - provided suitable venues can be negotiated - it is likely that he will visit other British cities. Bowie has unique and ambitious plans for the European tour, involving a more spectacular production than any previous rock show. He intends to feature a gigantic set incorporating five separate stages, all with "something different" happening simultaneously, while Bowie himself switches from one stage to another. Obviously, this project will necessitate hiring the largest possible venues, and it will also incur a huge financial outlay. As previously reported by NME, two leading British promoters have already declined the opportunity of presenting Bowie, because of the huge expense involved - which would have to be passed on to the public. It now seems probable that Mel Bush will promote Bowie's British gigs, although he was not available this week for comment. However, it is understood that several Saturdays have been booked at Wembley Stadium during the spring and early summer for the presentation of pop and rock shows. Bowie's new album "Fascination" - recorded at Sigma Sound in Philadelphia - is being issued in America in January. RCA do not yet have any plans for its release in this country, and it seems likely that it will be withheld to coincide with - or immediately precede - his British dates. The album is all r-and-b and comprises eight tracks. They include "Win", "John, I'm Only Dancing" (his third attempt at this song), "Young American", "It's Gonna Be Me", "Right!", "Can You Hear Me?" and the title track - plus one other which has not yet been named. Bowie is to tour Brazil for three weeks from January 10 with his "Philly Dogs" package - an extension of his recent American "Diamond Dogs" road show, and re-named because of his current r-and-b involvement. Because of his dislike of flying, Bowie intends to travel by sea to Caracas in Venezuela - and then journey overland by Land Rover, via the Amazon, to Brazil.   Circus Raves (US) - February 1975: "Who Can I Be Now?" Two young black men with Afros and Yes T-shirts gazed at the art-deco murals and shrugged their shoulders. As they awaited the debut of David Bowie’s all-new show at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, an intense but typical seventies rock mob milled around them. "I expected to see a lot more glitter people," said the one seeming Woodstock refugee to the other. An enthusiastic but somewhat confused audience had just been entertained by Bowie’s thirteen strong musical entourage. Like the crowd-stirring opening acts in an all star rhythm and blues revue, Bowie’s versatile back-up vocalists stepped into the spotlight and did their best to link the reluctant Ziggy kids into a soul train. Just a month before, a Raves correspondent had interviewed Bowie’s co-producer, the articulate Tony Visconti, who had definite ideas on David’s new blue image. "He’s been working to put together an r & b sound for years," said Visconti, defending his long-time colleague from accusations of trendy opportunism. "Every British musician has a hidden desire to be black," he explained. So, the intellectually superior street punk had finally achieved one of his fondest rock dreams. A Go Go Bisexuality: A bumping, grinding fully integrated and bisexual team of go go talent was at the spry red head’s disposal. As Bowie hit the stage after intermission, attired in a plaid tie, suspenders, and white pegged pants, he was obviously feeling fine, funky, and in full control. Davey made it all look easy as he effortlessly blended the forties teen appeal of Frank Sinatra with the sexy self-assurance of a James Brown. Gone now were the songs that searched for a satellite of love – "All the Young Dudes," "Space Oddity," and "Aladdin Sane." In their place were the rousing r & b oldie "Footstompin’ " and a new Bowie identity tune, "A Young American." David had clearly fulfilled his desire to make his stage a theatrical discotheque. But could he convince his swelling league of fans to dance to his newest music? The cute but crafty style-setter had certainly come some distance since the 1972 media message which had proclaimed, "David Bowie is Ziggy Stardust." Since his first nova explosion of notoriety, Bowie’s spiders had risen and fallen, his gold-plated diamond dogs had evidently caught their death in the fog – but not before helping David to his first million selling album and a terrific "out-of-retirement" tour. Yet even as David’s disciples were fantasizing seduction by sick sweet things, his management company MainMan planned still another surprise. To coincide with the second half of Bowie’s 1974 Tour of Tours and the release by RCA of David Live, MainMan arranged to have ABC televise D. A. Pennebaker’s fascinating film of the Spiders’ British farewell concert in July, 1973. Complete with stunning stereo FM radio simulcast, the splendor and stature of Bowie’s "Aladdin Sane" presentation came to life on the tube as never before. As seen through the eyes of Pennebaker’s crack cameramen, David does indeed become the stardust kid himself. In and out of one dazzling outfit after another, David is observed backstage concentrating on his entrances and relaxing almost nude with friends like Ringo Starr during his break. To crown the performance of his career with the superstar he helped to make, Mick Ronson was joined onstage at the Hammersmith Odeon by his idol, Jeff Beck. While Jeff and Mick provoked each other to heights of flash unheard of in the seventies, Bowie crouched to one side and pushed his mouth harp loud and hard through the vocal mike, then smiled in unfeigned joy at the electricity pouring off his band and their stellar guest. In the audience at Hammersmith was Mick Jagger; no coincidence then, that after a close escape from a pack of determined ravettes at Radio City, Bowie broke spontaneously into "It’s only rock and roll…" He likes it now as much, if not more, than ever. Dylan and David: As "director" of Bowie’s first feature film, Pennebaker contributed an instinctive feel for rock showmanship gained from his filming of the historic Monterey Pop Festival and the classic film on Bob Dylan, "Don’t Look Back". Although a stranger to Bowie personally and only recently acquainted with his work, Pennebaker realized that David had a compulsive need to commit a kind of artistic suicide, even if his supposed "retirement from the stage" was merely a swan song for the spiders. Mainman’s official reason for screening Bowie ’73 implied that the longer they waited to show the movie the more of a museum piece it would become. Pennebaker was intrigued by Bowie’s detached but quietly obsessive concept of his own talent. He remarked to Raves, "Somebody like Bowie doesn’t care how things have been done in the past. That’s not how they got anywhere. Their business is finding out what can be done and what should be done. These are the kind of people I like to see get into film." Because he felt so strongly that Bowie’s aptitude and theatrical instincts were almost extra-musical, he gave him the same kind of encouragement he had given Dylan years earlier. When asked to compare Bowie to other artists he had worked with and known well, Pennebaker found himself using Dylan repeatedly as a favorable reference point. Integrated sex: Despite Pennebaker’s expert and non-partisan support for any possible Bowie film projects, David abruptly decided to return to active touring upon the release of Diamond Dogs. In seven moths of almost non-stop road work, Bowie has devastated thousands of devotees and won enough new converts to become a certified gold album chart-topper. But more importantly, he’s almost completely changed his "image," his attitude, his band, back-up singers, and staging in mid-tour. He’s previewed superb but strange new songs for large crowds who didn’t know what to expect. Bowie’s become more at home with his audience even as he’s learned to loosen up and really roll with his rock. Tense dramatic effects have given way to interracial (but not radical) displays of sensual affection.   Three of Bowie’s rainbow hued crew are Vandross, a self-contained vocal group who perform several of Luther Vandross’ songs during the first part of the show. Jules Fisher has scrapped his own diamond dogs cityscape for a white-frosted Big Band set up. Throughout the evening at Davey’s disco, dapper erstwhile dog Warren Peace and the sensationally sepia Ava Cherry twist and shout, show and tell (all), almost stealing the show, except they all share it so well. Mike Garson’s piano and David Sanborn’s sax are a sweetly soulful contrast to Earl Slick’s ever sharper lead guitar. And Emir Kassan, Pablo Rosario, Dennis Davis, and Carlos Alomar cook up some incredibly complex but hypnotic rhythms. As engineer of this soul locomotive, Bowie beams like a hot pop boy at a cool cabaret. A jive Fred Astaire paired with the Jackson 5’s dancing machine, Bowie rearranges standards including "Changes," "Moonage Daydream," and "Suffragette City" to mesh seamlessly with brand new numbers like "Somebody Up There Likes Me." He thanks the audience for applauding his latest tunes, then with a sniff and a smile puts the silk jacket donated by a fan on Carlos. With unprecedented pep in his step, David struts across the stage with the evening’s fifth gift of flowers, tossing them to a believer in the third row. He spins and slides away as the overeager throng destroy the fragile souvenirs. Street style: Bowie’s new approach to rock theater may avoid the campiness and self-consciousness of earlier acts, but it still conveys his preoccupation with street style as the language of progress. While Bowie’s tailoring tarts up the thirties and his choreography echoes Motown’s miracles of the sixties, his timing is right on now, when black singles dominate AM radio and Soul Train has picked up where American Bandstand left off. Pennebaker was aware when filming Bowie that he was dealing with a vital and volatile entertainer, peculiarly tuned in to his time. "Bowie’s idea of a show is to astound you. That’s tremendous; it’s an element that’s very important in film-making – never be predictable. Bowie has a range from banal concepts to extraordinary ones, until even the words don’t really matter. There’s something beyond the words there." Pennebaker sensed a hard core of artistic vision in Bowie that he admired. "Bowie is like Dylan in that he’s found a way to crystalize something in front of people," Pennebaker proposes. "They both have a very good sense of themselves and what they do. Both have a very tough, spiritual center that holds them together. It’s very hard to stay on top of a big talent; it’s like walking on logs in the water. "It interested me to see a guy who was on fire onstage, but who could turn himself off before and after," Pennebaker continued, "Bowie brings an acting structure of mime and conditioned reflex to a performance. But I think Bowie’s got much more going on in his head than that, and that’s one of the things that brings him down. He probably did need to get off the stage for a while and go in another direction." Dietrich quality: "There is, of course, a Dietrich quality to Bowie that’s totally fashion," Pennebaker acknowledged, "but that’s just a small aspect of him. His younger fans aren’t even particularly aware of it. I don’t think the audience even sees some of Bowie’s best actions. He throws away perfectly done bits of business that are almost sculptural. He’s giving a whole message, not just giving the part of the message he thinks will look best. Every instant he’s on the screen he gives a full image; it might not be the words or even the music. But Bowie is always saying something." Tony Visconti thinks he knows what David is saying today. "Being black now is a culture rather than a revolution. By the time this album has been released more people are going to realize that." It doesn’t seem to have occurred to a lot of people who are looking so desperately for a new Beatles that they or he or she may not sound at all like the Beatles. But any artist who will mean as much to as many in the seventies as the Beatles did in the sixties is going to have to involve black listeners in the same way Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix engaged whites. Now Bowie gets a crowd that has never even thought of dancing to the Allman Brothers, let alone Blue Magic, up and out into the aisles, where their god given arses have more room to shake. He turns "John I’m Only Dancing" from a psychotic mind rape into a seductive soul anthem, re-titled, "Jon I’m Only Dancing (Again)." It’s as if Bowie’s telling us: life holds in store many dances, many partners, many steps, and many stepped on toes. But there’s always more, both good and bad. No longer does David gloatingly prophesy nuclear disaster. The problems of his personae now are bills and too any babies. By walking with punk poise while talking like Barry White with a social conscience, David has come back to earth with all his poetic powers intact. "1984" and "Knock on Wood" are only a taste of the brown sugar David will stir into his next, as yet untitled, studio album. Recorded in Philadelphia, the home of contemporary supersoul, David’s tenth album will reveal him to be takin’ it harder, easier, and more right than ever before. RON ROSS   Circus Raves (US) - June 1975: ‘Young Americans’ Why he had to go Disco-Soul The slim young man sniffed a hit nervously and pulled a widebrimmed hat down farther over his shock of red hair. With a professional objectivity mingled with unfeigned pleasure, he watched a fascinating scene unfold at New York’s mammoth Madison Square Garden. A performer himself, he was backstage on one of his rare nights off to witness the Jackson 5, an incomparable act who had come the closest to inciting something like Beatlemania in the Seventies. Supporting the J5 on this soulful super-bill was another black group equally expert at working crowds into controlled hysteria, the Ohio Players. The frail jumpsuited figure was suddenly taken by an overwhelming urge to get dancing as the Players boogied through their then current hit, "Jive Turkey." And at the climax of their performance the syncopated strutters accomplished an orgasm of audience participation the like of which their guest in the wings had seldom known to unite a rock audience. Twenty thousand voices began to shout in unison "Par-tee!! Par-tee!!” while thousands of shrieking whistles punctuated their chant. A smile crept across David Bowie’s pale features as he instinctively began to flash on the images and sounds that would form the style and substance of his next musical identity. Bowie was about to turn his art inside out once again, and plunge himself with all the imaginativeness he could muster into the vibrant vital world of future-soul that he had heard pulsating all night long in discotheques and blaring from transistor radios on the street. If for Bowie, glitter had become genocide, then perhaps r & b could still rock his funky soul. Bowie must think it will, because the latest incarnation of the boy with the red hair is as earthy as Ziggy was spacey. His new album, Young Americans (on RCA records), is a stone funkified attempt to uncover the roots that the Ziggy persona eclipsed for so long. Startling as the new looking David Bowie is, should not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed David’s progression over his last eight albums. It seems that for David Bowie, changing his public image is as natural as changing his clothes. It is not, however, as easy as changing management. MainMan split?: About the same time David was going through the throes of his soul-oriented ch-changes other changes in the workings of MainMan started the rumor mills spinning in the press. Originally established to promote Bowie and a few other choice “artistes,” MainMan is headed by Tony Defries, who has managed Bowie since the Hunky Dory days. In what came as a surprise to many just a few months ago, David reportedly cut all ties with Defries. Rock Chameleon: Long before Bowie lurked in the neon-lit sewers of New York’s 82 club, where drag queens and transvestites did the funky chicken, long before Ziggy Stardust first showed his powder-masked face onstage, Bowie had declared that songwriters would change the world. The young songwriter changed his name from Jones to Bowie, after the famous knife. “I call myself Bowie,” he said as he gracefully slipped a lank of carrot-barbed hair off his forehead, “because at that time I was heavy into the philosophical and wanted a truism that would cut through the lies.” He didn’t notice, however, as one writer pointed out that, “a bowie knife is double-edged and cuts both ways.” Bowie was to be known as a faker as well as a great performer. He released an album, Love You Till Tuesday (called David Bowie on Deram Records). It went nowhere. He released the single, “Space oddity” which was a smash and the subsequent LP, Man Of Words/Man Of Music set him up as “the Dylan of Britain.” It did nothing in the U.S. Neither did The Man Who Sold The World, a crisp clean-sounding work, which contained the seeds of the sordidly wonderful visionary themes to come. Today David attends enormous celebrity parties at the late-night androgynous disco, Le Jardin, as he dances with the elite of the Black recording industry in a lavish acknowledgement of “peak” pop experience, the blending of the ambisexual, the gay and Black musical society. His glittering eyes now reflect back on his first fascination with New York 1971 – the glamor, the money. Unable to perform in the Big Apple then, he showcased himself in floor-length gowns, high heels and gobs of blusher and lip-gloss. He became the rage of the avant-pop-people. Clutching one limp flower then, he became the Garbo of Rock. Bowie delved further into the virgin psycholandscapes of bisexuality even though his manager Defries was afraid it would be bad for business, he wore satin caftans, had his nails done in brilliant hues of lacquer. He toiled mightily, crafting tight highly commercial tunes, and he released Hunky Dory. Again, the LP sold poorly in the U.S.  He took to the stage in the most outrageous exhibits of transsexual role-playing ever to attack the open- mouth rock masses. The post-Woodstockians were “not ready” for the identity crises Bowie was talking about and living. So again he had missed the boat on commercial stardom, while he created an archetype for the future. The next time around , though, he hit on a saleable image in Ziggy Stardust. Behind rehearsal doors, the poet-seer-bitch-rocker, according to friends, actually fought, to get his band to accept the Spiders from Mars idea. Ronson was the only one at first who was delighted with the spacey show. Ziggy, however, took Britain by storm. Appearing as an almost godlike figure to his English fans Bowie was soon equated with the image he created. To those people Bowie was Ziggy Stardust. To David, however, Ziggy Stardust was really a transient creature, who ultimately served as a vehicle for his songs. “A lot of my thing,” he explained then, as he lounged in a skin-tight quilted jumpsuit, “is that I’m continually aware that I’m an actor portraying stories and that’s the way I wish to take my performance.” Bowie’s hair had turned carrot orange, blown up in front like a flame, slicked down in back like a duck’s ass with sideburns that hung down like long sharp daggers. “What Bowie lacks in sincerity,” sniped one scribe, “he more than makes up for in image.” Please don’t theorize on Ziggy,” Bowie demanded. Having written it down, there are some things in it that are so personal that I find the whole thing has become a monster to me. And there are some things I never dreamed I would have to put in it.” The image was a gorgeous Frankenstein leaping out of Bowie’s control. Not even his retirement quelled the growing ranks. So Bowie returned to the stage with his “Diamond Dogs” tour. There was no doubt that he was now a certified international star. So what was he going to do for an encore? David’s new image was wearing thin – for him if not for his fans. And always there was the shadow of the Ziggy following him around. Clearly it was time for Bowie to investigate a new way to present his music. It was either change the Ziggy image, or be trapped in the character of Mr. Stardust for good. The image David decided to create for himself had a good part of its roots,strangely enough, in an acquaintance with another orange-haired cult hero – this one from Hawaii. Midler Madness: Highly regarded as one of New York’s zaniest pop personalities, Bette Midler has always been regarded as an accurate purveyor of new trends. So while Aladdin Sane was still on the racks, David took up a chase through Los Angeles after the highly mobile and highly elusive Divine Miss M. On one of their New York jaunts, Bette accompanied Bowie to a Jackson 5 concert where she let it slip that the next divine album would be recorded in Philadelphia. When David took his theatre-tour to Philly, about a year later(where the subsequent live album was recorded) he spent a full week checking out the famed studios and producers in that city. No isolated occurrence Bowie followed up his initial venture into New York’s r & b nightlife with a backstage visit to the Lockers, a group of progressive black dancers who were playing Radio City Music Hall. Sitting on foam cushions I a stuffy dressing room, a totally wasted Bowie rapped with the Lockers and assorted members of the Ohio Players and Graham Central Station, the two bands that were topping the bill. When asked what he thought of the Lockers, David could only whisper “Amazing!” Those watching the Grammy awards recently were treated to a rare public appearance of Bowie, blond roots and all, when he made a presentation of the music industry’s most coveted award. But even before news of his investigation of America’s rapidly expanding soul scene became known, the David Live album that documented his Philadelphia concert gave many of his fans a look at the shape of things to come out of Bowie’s next set of studio sessions. T.S.O.P.: After getting wind of the pure Philadelphia environment, Bowie settled down in Philly’s Sigma Sound Studios to start work on what was to become the Young Americans  with a group of sidemen that included Willie Weeks (fresh back from the George Harrison tour), Andy Newmark, David Sanborn and Mike Garson (from assorted earlier albums). With Tony Visconti at the controls, David cut enough tracks to complete a full album, although only four of them would make it to the final pressing of Young Americans. Anyone with half an eye on the pop music charts realizes the present advantage disco music has on radio airplay. Almost overnight, a relative unknown like Barry White has, not one, but three top forty hits on the charts at a single time. The discotheques – once no more than a place to spend a night of mindless dancing – have blossomed into launching pads for songs that no record company would have given half a chance of making the smallest dent in the charts a few years ago. Totally obscure names in rock circles like the Ohio Players, Carl Douglas, and the B.T. Express have become huge selling sensations, all because of the ever-growing disco scenes all over the country. David cashes in: So besides being an extension of Bowie’s soul roots, the disco-soul songs that appear on Young Americans might also endear Bowie to a whole different audience – the satin-sheathed crowd who might have been bewildered by the flaming Ziggy. But more importantly, disco, soul, satin funk, is what’s happening, and Bowie, in the shifting, mirroring reflections of his identity, has always looked for an image of the present, to wrap himself in. Soul music may just be closer to a “real” Bowie than any persona since his earliest street punk days, or, it may simply be Bowie’s way of being “now.” The album starts off with “Young Americans”,” the single that has as much of a chance cracking the soul charts as it does the rock charts. On first listening it’s easy to see why. Yet on the third, or eightieth, time around one begins to notice where David departs from the Philly-soul formula. David Sanborn’s sax opening is not funky-disco, but a traditional blues riff. Although the beat follows a disco-shuffle David’s quavering vocals and amazing Dada-esque lyrics in no progressive way relate to the “Do its” of standard disco. “Right,” the fourth cut seems to be a full blown, all stops pulled dive into sixties rhythm and blues. Sporting an echoed James Brown vocal , Bowie dips and slides around an endlessly looping riff, backed up by a troupe of female vocalists. The twanging electric guitar solo, built on a standard rock pattern, is the first clue, though, that the tune is not a long lost “self-help” track from the Isley Brothers. But again, after repeated listenings the chant takes on an intense personal tone, as if Bowie is convincing himself. “taking it all the right way… never no turning back.” Erotically inspired, perhaps the song is a renunciation of a past style: good sex is the only thing that still satisfies. Just like the slave Blacks knew all along. The lyrics on every cut are logically disconnected in terms of grammar, but grow into an intensely personal pattern as the soul beat weaves a sound sea around them. With “Win” Bowie creates a sinister, deadly cynical mood, made eerie with a slowly phased guitar and spacey mellotron. The zones of reality are drawn: either win or you lose, feelings don’t count here. The mood carries over into the brilliant texture of “Fascination.” The song has echoes of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” but only superficially, only on the arrangement level. Maybe the song is about attraction to a woman; maybe it is about a passion for something more dangerously addictive. Sex, drugs and fame are wound up like a tense spring behind the soul beat of this album. Side Two contains the guest appearance of John Lennon, (who looks like he’s becoming one of New York’s most sought-after session men), and an old Beatle song, “Across the Universe.”  But instead of the post-acid freedom of the original, Bowie’s version becomes a last romantic scream. The verses sound stiff, pompous, overstylized. But the chorus: “nothing’s gonna change my world,” is an angry, violent, desperate attempt to stop those relentless ch-changes. But immediately, Bowie slips from the universal into the personal with “Can You Hear Me,” a slow, beautiful love song that reveals an emotional side Bowie has rarely allowed himself to reveal before. A bare soul seems revealed; Bowie takes off his mask. The big gambit: As beautifully done as Young Americans is, it is in a totally different league from anything ever associated with Bowie before. Yet the themes of Man Who Sold The World can still be found under the soul skins. Critics contemplate Bowie like an enigma, a series of endlessly reflected mirrors receding into time, just as Bowie himself probably does. Rumors have it that Mr. B. is dangerously wasted by his life style, that the dozens of songs he has chocked away in the can are stored there, morbidly, for posthumous albums. That is romantic fascination with dying is overtaking him. But meanwhile the red-now-blonding-head can be found hither andyon on the streets of New York, sometimes at fashionable parties with the white-haired Black model Ava Cherry in tow, sometimes alone and pensive on a dark backstage. Other rumors say that Bowie is bored with music. He has collected a vast array of video tapes and movies which he views steadily for days on end. He plans to direct a movie, it is said, in which he will only play a cameo role. JOE BIVONA   Philadelphia Weekly (US) - 24 July 2002: David Bowie's Young Americans David Bowie recorded his Philly pop-soul classic nearly 30 years ago. The "Sigma Kids" were with him then, and they'll be with him again next week when he comes to town. Marla Kanevsky can't remember who made the first call this year, but when the phone rang she got that same old feeling. "I always think next time I won't do it," she says. "I won't get so excited. I won't start obsessing. But then Patti or Leslie are on the phone and it's the same thing all over again--David Bowie's going on tour. Nothing else matters." She laughs, because now other things do matter. But the announcement of an impending Bowie concert still holds the power to tear her in two. She remembers an August night in 1974 when Bowie invited her to a party! The night David Bowie held her hand! And she wonders if this year she will finally meet him as an adult, as an equal, as a 43-year-old mom. "I've met him, I think, seven times since 1974," she says. "And I always yell out, 'David, I'm a Sigma Kid!' even though I realize how pathetic that sounds. And if he talks to us, I am always just like, 'Can I take your picture, David? Can I have your autograph?' It's embarrassing." Nearly 30 years later, Marla Kanevsky is still a fan. Not an ordinary fan--a super fan. "He has been there through it all," she says. "The death of my parents, the birth of my son, my husband's accident. Everything." Just talking about all this reduces Kanevsky--or elevates her, if you're of such a mind--to tears. "I am such a wimp!" she hollers. Oh, but she is so much more. She's much more than a Sigma Kid, too, though once you know her story it's easy to see why she still identifies herself as that 16-year-old girl from Lower Merion. To this day the Sigma Kids can lay claim to perhaps the most beautiful and bizarre fan-star interaction in rock 'n' roll history. The Sigma Kids didn't just meet David Bowie. For one night they were his confidantes, his buds--underage kids for whom he bought wine and champagne! And fresh corned beef sandwiches! Sandwiches they were too nervous to eat! Yeah, and he played Young Americans for them--straight from the master tape--before RCA's label execs heard it and certainly before you heard it. You who weren't there to hear Bowie debut his version of the Philly Soul sound. But here it is, as best it can be laid down, given the smoke and white powder and years that obscure this tale: the Sigma sessions and the Sigma Kids, a story that ends with Marla Kanevsky's entire superfan life. Camping out for tickets seems like no big deal these days, but the Sigma Kids raised it to unparalleled heights. They spent two weeks straight sleeping in the streets so they could do things like watch Bowie walk from the Barclay on Rittenhouse Square to his limo. Then they'd dash off to their cars, driving as fast as they could to reach Sigma Sound Studios before he got there. "If he was already out of his limo when we were pulling up," remembers Patti Brett, "we would stop our cars in the middle of the street, get out and halt traffic just to say 'Hi' to him again." Over time the Kids got friendly with the studio staff and the Bowie entourage, especially guitarist Carlos Alomar. Sometimes Bowie would chat with them. He eventually learned their names: Marla, Patti, Leslie, Purple--about a dozen in all. No one remembers who made the announcement that Bowie had decided to throw a party for them when the sessions wrapped. What they do remember is that they were led into the studio late at night, their hearts thudding in their chests. Dagmar, a one-named rock photographer, documented the party. She remembers Marla Kanevsky because she was "a pretty little girl, and very emotional. You could see it was a very deep experience for her. She held Bowie's hand for a while. When he let go, she held hands with her friends." Kanevsky herself doesn't remember much, except asking Bowie to marry her. "It's awful, isn't it? So cliche, but I think that's why I said it. It seemed like what I should say. He said something like, 'You'll have to speak to my wife about that, love.'" For Bowie the night met two objectives: He got to reward some devoted fans, and he had a test audience for his new sonic experiment. The artist formerly known as Ziggy Stardust, the bisexual space alien rock star, had completed his transformation to white soul singer. These kids were his first listeners. At the party, he sat down in the back of the studio and bit his nails. No one spoke while the album played. But after the last note sounded one of the Kids yelled, "Play it again!" That broke the ice. The Kids got up and danced. Bowie did the bump. Bowie's approximation of the Philly Soul sound broke him commercially. He ascended from the 3,000-seat Tower Theater in July 1974 to the 16,000- seat Spectrum in '75. That's where stories about the Sigma Kids usually end, but their lives went on long after the party was over. Three decades later, the Sigma Kids arrive at Doobie's at 22nd and Lombard to down a few brews and reminisce. Patti Brett, a Sigma Kid who has run Doobie's for her mom since 1985, jams a bunch of tables together. A big, brassy blond, she changes from her work clothes into a black dress, lets her hair down and stands resplendent in bawdy maiden chic. It's a happy night, complete with a special guest star. Carlos Alomar, David Bowie's long-time right-hand man, is taking a night train from New York. While the Kids have interacted with Bowie only on rare occasions since 1974, most of them hurried, Alomar has become a friend. Before everyone else arrives, Brett and Leslie Radowill, both 46, look at pictures of Bowie going in and out of the studio in a variety of funky berets and glasses, flared trousers and shirts that billow around his skeletal frame. But they remember little in the way of specifics. "It's frustrating," says Brett. "Well, we smoked a lot of pot--and I know what pot does to brain cells," replies Radowill. Not long afterward, Marla Kanevsky arrives with her emotions in tow. A pretty woman in the midst of the Weight Watchers program, she has shed about 30 pounds. Still she hides her face behind big dollops of brown hair and keeps her sunglasses on indoors. She brings a journal describing the Sigma Studio experience and a sweet, strange petition she circulated in 1975 urging the singer to stop using drugs. The teenager wrote of the physical "ch-ch-ch-changes" Bowie had gone through that year, his cocaine-fueled drop to a reportedly corpse-like 80 pounds. "Remember I was just 16," she says. "I was a kid." Then she cries for a moment, right there at the table. Life has not been terribly kind to Kanevsky. In 1979 doctors discovered that her mother's back pain was evidence of a cancer that eventually killed her. (Lodger was the icy Bowie album of the moment.) About a year later, her father--who owned A&H Food Distributor in West Philadelphia--died from a massive heart attack. (The album was, fittingly, Scary Monsters.) Her future husband Paul--also a Bowie fan--supported her throughout these ordeals. Together they tried opening a deli, but the business failed and they lost most of the insurance money they had received from her parents' deaths. In 1991, when Bowie came to the Tower with his then-band Tin Machine, Paul got into a car accident before the show. He seemed unhurt, but the next day he went to a doctor. Almost a dozen years later he walks with a cane and can't stand for long periods of time, making it impossible to pursue his career as a chef. Kanevsky and her husband have a child, Zane, now 14, who is named after a lyric from Bowie's "All the Madmen." "I always said I would pop a kid out and sit him in front of a speaker," she says. "That's pretty much what happened." Kanevsky works as a teacher's assistant in Mays Landing, N.J., where she lives. The family scrapes by on her meager salary and Paul's disability checks. Of the dozen or so people invited into the studio that August night, only Kanevsky, Radowill and Brett continue to orbit, as a group, around Bowie. Phone calls among them--sporadic between albums--surge when the singer hits the road. They see far fewer shows than they used to, and they don't camp out for seats anymore. They'll see the local shows and maybe catch a gig in New York, but that's it. They have adult responsibilities. Radowill is unmarried and childless but tends to an elderly father. Brett got married a few years ago and has two stepchildren. Still, some things don't change. At one point Brett announces she's won a seat in a raffle to see Bowie perform on A&E's Live by Request, a two-hour TV concert. "I'm sorry," she says. "I didn't want to make anyone jealous." "Oh no," Radowill and Kanevsky respond in forced tones. "Have a great time!" (A week later Kanevsky gets on the phone and confesses her jealousy. "I feel so out of the loop," she says.)   With Bowie back on tour, it seems a time of confession for Kanevsky. She says her Bowie fandom feels like an addiction--confesses that she loves her family and her job, yet something is missing. She cries--a lot. But she doesn't seem like a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Rather, she seems nervous about a breakthrough. "I have attended about 75 concerts, and what has it gotten me?" she asks. "I had a good time, but for some reason I always expected more." Soon Alomar arrives in a bright summery shirt, like an arpeggio in cotton, and the troops head outside for an impromptu photo session. Kanevsky tries to hide in the back, her head bobbing above a sea of shoulders like a swimmer risen from the depths. She's lost a lot of weight, but she doesn't see it. Carlos Alomar served as Bowie's guitarist from 1974 to 1987, toured with him again in 1995 and plays on one track from Bowie's current disc, Heathen. He says he thought the Sigma Kids' behavior was a little weird at first. But the Kids told him they wanted to be close to David, and Alomar helped. He used Radowill's Instamatic to take photographs inside the studio, smuggled out tapes of the day's sessions and even invited them back to his hotel room where he and his wife, backup singer Robin Clark, became friends with this curious assemblage of young Americans. As Bowie moved from the tuneful but meat 'n' potatoes rock of the Ziggy years, his new rhythm guitarist--who had played with James Brown--was his connection to the music that would help his soul experiment work. Alomar says he still hangs out with the Kids on occasion because they are "campy, silly and fun." "Usually, people who sleep in front of a studio--it's about fucking," he says. "But with them it was about devotion." Though the Kids clearly had crushes on Bowie, there was no Sigma sex that August--only fidelity. Brett has the ticket stubs to the more than 120 Bowie concerts she's attended. She lost two jobs while following Bowie on tour, one as recently as 1995, but she'll tell you--with conviction--that it was worth it. "This is the choice we made," she says. Radowill raises more profound questions: "How would my life be different if I wasn't a David Bowie fan?" she asks. "Would I be married? Would I have children? Would I have gone to college?" A story like this, which deals in behavior bordering on the obsessive, must necessarily include some words from a psychiatrist. Those words are coming. But that doesn't mean something very powerful didn't occur in 1974, something that was felt both inside and outside the studio. Former WMMR DJ Ed Sciaky watched Bowie record "Win" for Young Americans at Sigma. "He'd sing three lines, then have the engineer play them back, keeping the first line every time," says Sciaky. "It was spectacular, watching him work like a painter, hitting every line the way he wanted." Around 7 a.m., Bowie asked the engineer to play the whole track from start to finish, twice. After the second listen, he nodded and said quietly, "That's it. It's done." As if on cue, the Kids outside started applauding--hooting and hollering up at the studio windows. "It was eerie," says Sciaky. "I don't know how they could have heard any of the music, let alone responded to what Bowie said. It was probably some kind of coincidence, but it felt like they knew, they heard, they were connected. Bowie looked stunned." Bowie has often told interviewers that he retains only fragmentary memories of 1974, '75 and '76, his cocaine years. When he returned to Sigma for a radio special in 1997, he signed his gold Young Americans album: "With fondest memories (I would imagine), David Bowie." The night that made local legends of the Sigma Kids may have left only small, residual traces in their idol's memory. But the Kids mean enough to Bowie that when Alomar arranged an impromptu reunion in 1995, the singer hung around even when his handlers tried to get him to leave. The meeting occurred in a tented area just behind the stage of Bowie's Outside tour. The singer jed with them about their advancing ages. Brett grabbed Bowie's graying goatee and said, "You've gotten a little older yourself there, mister." It was a wonderful moment--the walls torn down, the star Brett once worshipped now a person just like her and just as ripe for ridicule. Kanevsky couldn't believe Brett said it, though, and yelled at her to stop. "Marla!" Brett replied. "He's a person." Marla Kanevsky earns just under $11,000 a year as a paraprofessional assisting five- and six-year-olds with disabilities, both mental and physical, sometimes in basic tasks like going to the bathroom. "She's got the most unbelievable patience," says her co-worker Kathy Watkins. "Some of these kids act out all day long, and Marla soothes them and gets them focused. She's the best of us." Kanevsky's colleagues encourage her to attend college. The district would reimburse her for classes, but it's a no-go. The confidence isn't there. She tried photography school, but it didn't stick. Her work life has included a series of casino jobs, including cage cashier. Between class hours and before- and after-school day care, Kanevsky works from 7 a.m. to 6:15 p.m., five days a week. Often she brings in photographs from the Sigma sessions and her more recent Bowie meetings. She has plenty of them. At the reunion in 1995 Bowie got down on one knee and sang the "Zane, Zane, Zane" refrain from "All the Madmen" to her son. But all she could think to do was ask for another autograph, another picture. When Bowie started his Internet service, Bowienet, he assumed the screen name "Sailor" and sometimes even responded to Kanevsky's missives. She thanked him for a brief meeting outside a 2000 New York City gig; he said it was his pleasure. She invited him to Zane's bar mitzvah. "How sweet of you," he wrote. "Can't make it but what a lovely thought." Her husband's back injury has made it easier for Kanevsky to sit closer to Bowie when he's on stage. They are often able to score early admittance and special seating for Bowie's general admission shows. But as she says through still more tears, "I just know the other fans think we're trying to get over, but I would never see Bowie again if it meant my husband wouldn't have to be in pain." David Bowie might seem like a small thing to give up, but not for Marla Kanevsky. That she can even conceive such a thing may mean she's finally shedding the role of Sigma Kid after all these years. At one point she even throws down the gauntlet and asks if a reporter can find out why she's devoted so much of her time and energy to the pursuit of David Bowie. Dr. David Roat, a psychiatrist on Penn's faculty, says that when someone has a seminal event in life, like the Kids at Sigma did, "Energy may remain tied up in it. Whenever things go badly, they return there. It's similar to post-traumatic stress disorder, but they become fixated on a good experience." Losing her parents so soon after the event may have sent Kanevsky spiraling backward, to Sigma and to a time when the world seemed filled with limitless possibilities. Continued personal and financial troubles kept her there. Roat says Kanevsky's capacity to show regret signals that she may be closer to embracing her life. He even says that continued attempts to get Bowie's attention may be a good sign. "When someone has a powerful experience before they are old enough to process it, they might try to repeat it in some more controllable way. It's an attempt to gain some kind of mastery. For her to finally have a real conversation with Bowie outside the fan-star dynamic might be the best thing for her. She might finally be able to put him on the shelf where he belongs, shed her adolescence and get on with her life." Kanevsky's life is perhaps not so bad as her tears suggest. Last month, before she went home to celebrate her son's graduation, she took part in the school's yearly class picture ritual. One child, Jamie, has a condition called Fragile X syndrome. The slightest change in his routine, like a photograph session with his teachers, brings on tears and panicked, downcast eyes. Kanevsky approached Jamie, knelt in front of him, touched his shoulders and spoke in a soft, soothing voice. "We've had that child in school for a few years now," says Maureen Minton, another co-worker. "That's the first picture we ever got where he smiled and looked into the camera. It was Marla. She's such a wonderful person, but she doesn't always see the beauty in herself." Once Kanevsky calmed the child she performed her usual maneuver: She stood in the back and hid her body. "I don't know what I expect from Bowie," she says later. "But just once I would like to meet him and have some conversation other than 'You're so great.' I want to speak to him like an adult. And I think I'm ready. After all these years I believe I could finally have a mature meeting with him." STEVE VOLK