Bad memories of Bowie and the 1960s

Paul Gannon at Fubar Radio this afternoon

Fubar Radio today – Paul Gannon raising Comic Relief money

This blog is being posted very late today because, basically, I slept all morning. Pure laziness. Then I went to a 27-hour Comic Relief live podcast being run at Fubar Radio by Geekatorium podcaster Paul Gannon. There was a smell in the studio of stale Red Bull intermingled with under-arm deodorant.

I was not there for 27 hours. The live show had started at 8.00pm last night and ends at 11.00pm tonight. I was there for about an hour.

But still, as a result of all that, today’s blog is an irrelevant, partially-mistaken memory.

I have a terrible memory. I always have.

Sometimes people think I have an excellent memory. But that is because I write appointments and events in a diary.

If I remember to.

I am the perfect audience for comedians. I hear jokes, like them and, five minutes after leaving the venue, I have forgotten them.

I am usually the oldest person in a comedy club.

It stands to reason.

Though I think reason is much over-rated.

I was saying to someone last night that, inside, no matter how old they are, everyone feels they are around 26 years old.

But, even when I really was around 26 years old, I had the memory of a 126-year-old. And what follows happened well before I was 26.

David Bowie in 1967, the so-called Summer of Love

David Bowie in 1967, the so-called Summer of Love

When I talked to musician Clifford Slapper recently for an upcoming blog, I mentioned I had never seen David Bowie perform music live, but I had seen him perform live as a mime artist under the name Davy (or it might have been David) Jones at, I thought, the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. David Jones was, I said, supporting Tyrannosaurus Rex, the (much better) hippie precursor to rock/pop band T-Rex.

That was all I remembered – and part of that was wrong.

Today, Clifford told me he had managed to piece together the actual facts.

The gig I remembered apparently took place on 3rd June 1968 at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

I should have known this, because I actually mentioned it in a blog in 2011, which I had forgotten.

David Jones did indeed support Tyrannosaurus Rex on a bill which also included Roy Harper and Stefan Grossman, both of whom deserve to be, but are not, widely remembered. Ha! I say remembered. They are still around.

David Bowie - so unimportant he was not billed

I remember David Bowie being introduced as David Jones – yet ‘David Bowie’ is clearly billed as such  in this ad for the gig

“He did a 12-minute mime performance,” Clifford tried to remind me of David Jones/David Bowie. “His mime piece was called Yet-San And The Eagle with a backing track made by Bowie and Tony Visconti.”

I had mentioned to Clifford that Tony Visconti had turned up at a rather odd series of weekly philosophy lectures which I attended around that time. All I remember is that he wore a black velvet jacket and had a very attractive girlfriend.

I remember nothing about the David Jones mime at the Tyrannosaurus Rex gig. I had gone along to see Tyrannosaurus Rex. And I tend to go along with the late comedian Malcolm Hardee’s opinion of mime as a tragic waste of time.

“The backing track to the mime piece,” Clifford reminded me, “aimed to sound Tibetan but used a Moroccan stringed instrument from Portobello Road and sound effects with saucepans rather than cymbals. The compere was BBC’s John Peel.”

I remember none of this.

Tyrannosaurus Rex’s album My People Were Fair and Had Sky in their Hair, But Now they’re Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows

Tyrannosaurus Rex: My people were fair and had sky in their hair… But now they’re content to wear stars on their brows

Marc Bolan of Tyrannosaurus Rex,” Clifford tells me, “was fiercely competitive and allowed Bowie on the bill only on condition that he mimed but did not sing. The piece was about the invasion of Tibet by China and some Maoists had got wind of it and turned up to heckle the mime. One voice shouted out Stop the propaganda!”

I remember none of this.

“Bolan,” Clifford tells me, “was delighted by the heckle, but Bowie later said: I was trembling with anger and went home sulking.”

All I remember is seeing David Bowie perform as David Jones or maybe Davy Jones.

David Bowie has gone through Ch-ch-ch-changes

David Bowie has gone through Ch-ch-ch-changes

This happened on 3rd June 1968.

I guess I knew David Jones was also David Bowie, because Bowie had apparently released his single The Laughing Gnome (under his David Bowie name) in April 1967.

According to Wikipedia (so it must be true), the single was not a success. I rather remember it being quite widely played and thought I remembered it being a success.

But history is whatever is written down and read, not the possibly faulty memories of those who were actually there.

I feel I have turned into a cliché character. I was there, but clearly I cannot remember the 1960s.

And I did not take drugs. Fuck knows what the people who were drugged out of their skulls don’t remember.

1 Comment

Filed under 1960s, Music

One response to “Bad memories of Bowie and the 1960s

  1. Graham5baker@btinternet.com

    You say Bowie was not on the bill but he is clearly shown on the ticket image!!

    You remember laughing gnome being popular because it was really released in the early 70s at the height of Bowies fame

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