The Young American
Press Articles - 1974 (2)
The Drummer 26 November 1974 - Bowie Meets Springsteen Unwinding in the wee hours at Sigma Sound, Bowie talks about his music, the Philly concerts, Barry Goldwater and flying saucers. When Bruce Springsteen played The Tower Theater recently, announcements were made of upcoming concerts - when David Bowie's scheduled Civic Center appearance was announced it was greeted by a large negative roar from the crowd. It caught off-guard a number of startled onlookers, including the announcer, who voiced concurrence with the crowd. Some weeks later, during the recent Beach Boys concert at The Spectrum, the upcoming pair of Bowie shows were announced and greeted by a contest of boos and cheers from the crowd. It was obviously as fashionable to support Bowie as dismiss him. Also, judging by the crowds attracted, a lot of the booers came to see him anyway. And at 1am Monday morning the 25th of November, David Bowie met and welcomed Bruce Springsteen while recording his latest album at Sigma Sound. In an open and candid evening he touched on his recent concert performance and spoke of audiences and flying saucers. At 7.00 Sunday night a group of about a dozen and half Bowie freaks stood watch outside the main entrance of The Barclay on Rittenhouse Square. Some had orange, Bowie-cut hair; others just stood with their hands in their pockets waiting for a glimpse of someone that would make their vigil worthwhile. Mike Garson plays keyboards for Bowie, as well as being his musical director. As we left the Barclay for Sigma Sound Studios on North 12th Street, the kids outside called him by name. We stopped and talked to them for a few minutes. One displayed a gorgeous, large matte color close-up of Bowie, possibly from Monday night's concert. Mike: That's nice - you gonna give it to Bowie? Girl: No, I want him to sign it for me! Mike is a 28-year-old keyboard player who's been with Bowie for two years, has never been with one act that long before, and has no plans to move on. He comes, very noticeably, from Brooklyn, where his wife is awaiting his return at the end of this concert tour (about a week) so she can drop their second child in his lap. "We planned it so the kid'll be born the day after I get back." He began playing classical piano at the ripe old age of seven (his three year old daughter already plays), went from there to jazz, and then to rock. Along the way he worked for people like Martha and the Vandellas and Nancy Wilson. A lot of influences: Bach, Beethoven, Art Tatum, Chick Corea, Stravinsky. And, like Chick, Mike is a Scientologist. Not pushing hard for the cause - just mentioning that he was sceptical of it for about six months, took the plunge, and that it's helped him cope both as a musician and a person. How did he become Bowie's musical director? "I was playing a gig, working with an avant garde jazz group, and one night I got a series of phone calls… the third was from Bowie. I didn't know who he was. I was heavy into jazz and had never come across him. I played four chords for him and Mick Ronson… I was hired for eight weeks… That was a hundred and twenty weeks ago." The Mike Garson Band opened up the show Monday night. For them, the Spectrum ShowCo sound was perfect. A tight professional rhythm and blues-jazz-rock set of opening numbers was greeted first with mild indifference and later with boos, catcalls, and conspirational clapping designed to drive the group from stage. Never faltering once, they did their eight warm-up numbers and left the stage to return for one more after the intermission. Finally, after being subjected to an incredible verbal barrage, the group faded into the background and Bowie took the stage. Bad sound, a weak voice, and shortened muddled versions of older songs interspersed with poor renditions of his new R&B numbers, combined to make this show his weakest yet in the city. Audience reaction was kind, bringing him back. The next day consisted of bad reviews, bad feelings, and angry phone calls to WMMR-FM from concert goers who felt that the man had not delivered their money's worth (or as one leatherneck offered during the Garson's Band's warm up, "Get those ******* off the stage!") Garson: He liked the show - he didn't know the sound was bad either. You know we can only hear the monitors blasting away on stage and they sounded fine. The audience reaction seemed very very good… In actual fact, the reviews on this tour have been better overall than the Diamond Dogs tour. On Bowie: "He wanted to do something without the theatrics; he may go back to them, he may not. For this time he wanted to just get our there and sing. He's not afraid of change, he's always changing… He's full of surprises." "On a good night his voice is better now than it ever was." We arrived at Sigma Sound a little after eight. Producer Tony Visconti was arched over a mammoth soundboard, pressing buttons, being generally pleasant to the half-dozen engineers and musicians in the control room, and peering into the large windowed studio directly in front. The album was practically finished. The first rough mix had been accomplished since Bowie recorded the basic tracks some weeks ago, and this week had been devoted to clean-ups and overdubs. This was the final night in the studio for the album - the final touches would now be made. I'm Only Dancing (She Turns Me On) was being played back. Pablo was in the studio, overdubbing a cowbell and some chimes onto an already lushly produced cut. Visconti easily shows his pleasure with the final product as Pablo finishes up. The cut is full and rich, almost a Phil Spector R&B wall of sound - Bowie's voice mixed way into the background. 10:30: and the jokes disintegrate into bad puns and poor taste; Tony explains palmistry to a member of the band - says that the late Bruce Lee's lifeline (gleaned from a gigantic close-up of his open fist) showed that he should've lived till 90. 11:30: Out of the corner of the studio comes an old, small brown guitar amp. Tony proudly announced that it belonged to Chubby Checker and was used to record the original version of The Twist. He sings, "Got a new dance and it goes like this… " The amps specialty is a fine dirty sound that you can't get from an amp unless it was made well about twenty years ago. After hearing a few licks played through, every guitar player in the room plots its theft. Seven minutes to midnight: The door opens and in saunter Ed and Judy Sciaky, escorting the night's special guest star, a roadweary Bruce Springsteen, fresh off the bus from Asbury Park, New Jersey. Bruce is stylishly attired in a stained brown leather jacket with about seventeen zippers and a pair of hoodlum jeans. He looked like he just fell out of a bus station, which he had. It seems that one of the tracks Bowie laid down was Bruce's It's Hard to be a Saint in the City. Tony Visconti called Ed at WMMR and asked him if he could get Bruce into the studio. Contacted finally on noon Sunday, Bruce hitched into Asbury Park, then via the nine o'clock Trailways to Philly, where Ed met him "hanging with the bums in the station." Said Bruce of his odyssey: "That ride had a real cast of characters… every bus has a serviceman, an old lady in a brown coat with one of these little black things on her head, and the drunk who falls out next to you." An hour later, the time passing with some more overdubs and a few improvised vocals by Luther of the Garson band (who sings a fine lead and whose vocal power adds a lot of strength to an already powerful album), enter David Bowie and Ava Cherry, white-haired soul singer for the band. David breezes in, takes account of the night's progress, lets his piercing eyes cast across the room a few times, listens to a tape and then leaves Tony to his work so as to chat with Bruce. Five people hunched up in a far corner of the lobby, looking more like the fans (half a dozen of whom were still standing outside, savoring the vibrations) than the stars themselves. David reminisces on the first time he saw Bruce - two years ago at Max's Kansas City - and that he was knocked out by the show and wanted to do one of his songs ever since. When pressed for another American artist whose songs he would like to record (as he did for British artists on the Pin Ups album), david thinks a while and replies that there are none. A tired but interested Bruce lets a grin escape. The conversation turns to a common problem: Stage jumpers. Bowie: It doesn't bother me so much that they do it, I just wonder – what are they gonna do when they get there? Bruce: Once I was onstage sweating so hard I was soaked with it. Really soaking wet. And this guy jumps up on stage and throws his arms around me; and I get this tremendous electric shock from the guitar. This guy doesn't even feel it! I'm in agony and he doesn't feel a thing; he wasn't feeling anything anyway; but I'm getting this shock and the guy won't let go. Finally, my drummer, Mad Dog, comes over and beats the guy off. Bowie: And the guy went back to his friends saying, "Hey man, Bruce was really wired"… The worst was when a guy jumped up on stage and I saw the look in his eyes – all luuded out – he was gone. Real scary look in his eyes, and all I could think was 'I been waitin' for you. Four years and I been waitin' for one like you to jump on stage.' And I just smiled at him, and his eyes got okay again; then I looked closer and saw he was holding a brick in his hand… Bowie is a tall skeletal leprechaun. Red beret tipped extremely to one side, the other revealing a loose patch of orange hair, leaning away from ears that uncannily resemble a Vulcan's up close. Intense hawk eyes; if they fix on you friendly it warms the room; unfriendly or even questioningly you're forced to turn away from them. Red velvet suspenders over high waisted black pants and a white pullover sweater complete the bizarre outfit, which, like any other, grows on you as the hours pass. In fact, Bowie grows and fleshes out as the hours pass. From the secluded, mysterious figure portrayed by the press into a man of odd habits, but more personable as some time passes between you. After an hour, I couldn't understand how Mike Garson could say he was easy and friendly to work with; very short and direct in his instructions to the band as he stands with Visconti at the board, overseeing some back-up vocals. After a few hours, a break, and some chatter about flying saucers, the person seeps through. A real person. The studio is a warm, fur covered cavern at 3am. Heads and bodies sway in time to a slow one. Yellows, blues, reds, and greens dimmed as low as possible light the control room and studio. The control room is a starship with endless banks of futuristic controls; punch panel, mixing decks, tape decks, blinking lights. A starship manned by a motley bunch of pirates. Obviously hijacked. The talk turns toward the sound last Monday at the Spectrum. (Bowie: "It's the pits. The absolute pits.") Visconti is assigned to work on its improvement. A five o'clock sound check will be of little use since it's brought up that the acoustics change tremendously when the place fills with fourteen thousand sound absorbing bodies. If anyone can look tired and energetic at the same time, it's David. Part the curtains in the studio and the silent sentinels below come to life and wave frantically; their big moment – contact with the event. Bowie tried to record a vocal solo. It sounds terrible, the voice is hoarse and tired. "It's much too early yet - I'm not quite awake… I won't be able to record anything till about half past five." He reenters the studio and wraps a set of incredibly long, slender fingers around a cold steak sandwich (never having encountered one before, he was taught the correct hold and given seven different explanations as to what a hoagie was). More on the Spectrum: "I was dreading it really. Everybody whoever played there warned me how terrible it was. I don't think you can get good sound there, but we'll try." After a promise to meet again and talk further in New York, Bruce heads off with Ed and Judy for a 5am visit to the Broad Street diner. Max's Kansas City had been his first professional gig. Bowie was in from the start. Bruce leaves without having heard his version of Saint. The feeling is that it's not ready yet. Flying saucers Bowie: "There's one that you people probably haven't even heard of here, 'cause the US government threw a blanket over it. It's all over Canada though… happened about three, four weeks ago in Akron, Ohio. Same sort of thing that Prof. Carr is saying happened at Patterson Air Force Base. There was a decompression accident and they have a ship and four bodies: three feet tall, caucasian, although weathered all over to make up for it, same organic stuff: cocks and lungs and such, but different, bigger brains. "You know Barry Goldwater is resigning from politics to become President of a UFO organization… he's not really resigning from politics, he just realizes they can't keep it all secret much longer and he wants to be at the top when it breaks. It will break soon." Next on the Bowie agenda is a long voyage down the Amazon; David will not fly and his next concert tour is in Brazil in January. Maybe the long boat ride will ease that throat. On some tracks of the new album (a single record which may include the Springsteen tune) his voice is clear and firm. On others it's mixed way back, so that Garson's group and the full production overpower a weak, hoarse attempt. There is however, not a bad cut on the album. Hell, you can even dance to it. As the sun came up and David talked on a bit of the Russians and their 3,000 flying objects sending communicative signals into space (Klaatu Barada Nikto?), the room took on the warm perspective of the remnants of an all night talk-rap-fantasize session. The kind where you come away fulfilled, for no other reason that you felt you got to know a handful of people a bit better. A warm room, hard to leave. But work was about to resume, the sun was getting higher, and the deadline for his resume becoming tighter and tighter. A firm handshake, as firm and strong as Bruce's; they are much alike. Outside, a dozen sentinels are huddled in cars, standing on the sidewalk, sitting on the steps, waiting for a little of the magic to pour out. This is Bowie's final night in the studio. When he leaves, they'll get into their cars and beat him to the Barclay. One last look at the man who makes his albums in Philadelphia. MIKE McGRATH   Circus Raves 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 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.