"It hasn’t got boobs or anything".

david bowie, glam rock, mick ronson, petticoat magazine, the who

So very quotable (see post title and also: “I cannot breathe in the atmosphere of convention,” he told one interviewer. “I find freedom only in the realm of my own eccentricity.”), it is hard to believe that David Bowie is actually allowed to age at all. But he reaches the very elegant and refined vintage of 65 today and I would like to wish him many, many returns of the day. So, in his honour, here is an interview from Petticoat Magazine, January 1973…


Heralded by a thunderous chunk of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Fourth Movement as adapted by Walter Carlos for march from A Clockwork Orange, Ziggy Stardust and his Spiders From Mars skip on stage virtually unseen under cover of the murky gloom.

When the spotlights come on the audience gives up a single gasp of utter disbelief Ziggy’s hair is a solid bob of flaming Apricot Gold, made even brighter by a deathly-white made-up face. He is wearing a blue Lurex jacket open to the navel and a pair of blue denims tucked into what , appear to be boxing boots.

The Spiders—Mick Ronson on guitar, Mick Woodmansey on drums and Trevor Bolder on bass—seem ill at ease in their silver jumpsuits.

The exhibition that follows is of secondary importance. David Bowie made his impact the second he stood there under the lamp, legs apart, hips gently swaying, guitar slung over his back and a limp smile playing on his mouth.

There`s no getting away from it, the boy is beautiful.

Articulate and animated David has his own ideas about what he is — “just a cosmic job” — and where he’s going — “to be an astral spirit” — but he leaves us to make our own interpretation.

The heads hold him in awe and regard him with respect, a last stubborn vestige of what was once the Underground.

A number of usually-cynical music paper writers forgot to be objective when Bowie re-appeared on the scene last year and quite openly played John the Baptist to his Messiah.

To them he is the Samuel Pepys to a Clockwork Orange generation; chronicling alarm, violence and anarchism but always ending on a definite note of optimism. (As you’ll find out if you listen to Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World collection.)

Fans just bop to him in Stoke-on-Trent, hang his picture on their bedroom walls, grab at him in stage door scrums and dismiss him the minute his latest forty-five rpm chartbuster slips from the Fun Thirty, just another hit parade idol.

So who is David Bowie? He was born David Robert Jones in Brixton, South London, probably twenty-five years ago. His accurate birthdate is a well- kept secret. The family moved to Bromley, Kent, and David won O level GCEs in art and woodwork before leaving Bromley Technical High School at sixteen to become a com- mercial artist with an advertising firm.

It only took him six months to realise that his artistic sense‘was in danger of collapsing under the strain of working in the world of advertising. He handed in his notice and formed his first professional group, a “progressive blues” outfit known as David Jones and the Lower Third.

One record that lingers from that period is I Dig Everything, a piece of shattering, quavering vocal acrobatics from Bowie. But with the advent of the Monkees in the mid-sixties David had to face up to stark reality. The Monkees were being sold on the unspoiled features of an exiled Mancunian, one Davey Jones. It was obvious this bright-eyed, young smiler was going to happen so David played it shrewd and dug up the name   Bowie.

David Bowie and the Buzz were on the point of breaking big a number of times. They had a residency at the Marquee in Wardour Street and since they had no money they lived in a beaten-up old ambulance parked right outside the club.

“We were second billing to the Hi Numbers who later became The Who,” David recalls. “Even then Pete Townshend was writing great stuff. In fact he and I were the only ones with anything to say.”

Sadly The Buzz subsided and a disillusioned Bowie stopped playing professionally to throw himself into a lengthy period of meditation and self-examination. He read huge amounts of Albert Camus, Harold Pinter and Oscar Wilde. He joined the Buddhist Tibet Society and helped to establish a Buddhist monastery in Scotland.

He met and worked with mime actor Lindsay Kemp and then formed his own mime troupe as part of his Arts Lab project in Beckenham, Kent, where he’d now set up his headquarters.

Several misguided people said at the time, that by Bowie’s efforts, his Arts Lab commune could become Britain’s first self-sufficient sub- community, but the project floundered.

By the time David had made a “don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss- me” appearance in the film The Virgin Soldiers and had gone to the cinema one night to see Stanley Kubrick’s 200l-A Space Odyssey.

“The whole thing just zapped me,” Bowie said. Bowie went home and wrote the song that was to change his life. Space Oddity was the story of Major Tom, the astronaut who shut off his communications systems, said goodbye to a doomed world and prepared to spend the rest of his life in never decreasing circles in outer space. Space Oddity was also a mammoth seller, topping thei charts round the world. It elevated Bowie to big box-office status.

“It was a catastrophe,” he remembers. “One month I was playing acoustic guitar to ah handful of people in folk clubs, the next I was out on the Mecca   ballroom circuit, a pop star; playing to thousands of scream- i ing kids who wanted to pull me to pieces.

“I couldn’t take it for very long so I went into retirement for a couple of years.” In those two years, during which he married Angela, the daughter of an American mining engineer and had a daughter [sic], Zowie, his peace went undisturbed. Bluntly, he was finished and that was the way he wanted it.

“I had time to sort myself out and write. I needed that time where nobody wanted me to do anything, nobody expected anything of me.”

Then he suddenly appeared with some new almost frighteningly significant songs to which he gave the name The Man Who Sold The World. He was back but this time he was given respect as a composer not just adulation as a pop star.

It was about this time that David was photographed in his Mr. Fish dress. “It’s a man’s dress,” he insisted, “it hasn’t got boobs or anything. I`ve always loved clothes and think that you should dress exactly how you like without a care for what people might think.

“I cannot breathe in the atmosphere of convention,” he told one interviewer. “I find freedom only in the realm of my own eccentricity.”

David finally consolidated his new-found position in pop with The Rise and Fall Of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars, the saga of an imaginary pop group, it’s adventures and eventual destruction.

He is very involved with the stars and beyond, and warns that we should be happier than we are about the prospect of meeting real Spiders from Mars in the years to come.

Bowie leads an isolated life. He surrounds himself with allies and no-one else gets through.

How would he like people to think of him?

“Anyway they want to,” he says. “I’d hate to think I was anybody`s guru, nor am I a pop , idol. Music is far from being my whole life, it’s only my mode of transport for getting my thoughts and beliefs across. I want to retain the position of being a photostat machine with an image.”

Gordon Coxhill

Rare early Alice Pollock and Ossie Clark interview

1960s, alice pollock, british boutique movement, ossie clark, quorum, the who

Greatest thanks and genuflection at the feet of Miss Senti for finding this footage on Youtube. It’s definitely the earliest footage I’ve ever seen or heard of Ossie, the only footage I’ve seen of the inside of Quorum in this period (including my beloved ‘Lips’ dress hanging up in the background) and the only time I’ve ever seen or heard Alice Pollock being interviewed. It still amazes and delights me that such things are still there to be found…

Mensday: Brian Jones

brian jones, Françoise Hardy, george harrison, Mensday, menswear, suki poitier, The Beatles, the rolling stones, the who

Just because. Because it’s unfair that The Stones have only lost one member after all these years, and it was the beautiful Brian Jones. (And The Who and The Beatles have both been depleted by 50%. ‘S’not fair.) Because he died exactly ten years before I was born (to the very day…). Because he loved stripes, ruffles and brocades. Because he wanted to look like Françoise Hardy. Because he named both of his sons Julian. Because he wore Celia prints. Because men don’t look like that any more.

And because of photos like this…

Soul Soothers

lemon pipers, noosha fox, prince, psychedelia, roxy music, svensk, the who
I have been soothing my soul with music this week. Brutally flicking past nearly everything on my player except for a few, err, exceptions.

Roxy Music – Out of the Blue (and pretty much the whole of Country Life. Love times a bazillion).

Svensk – Dream Magazine (from brilliant psychedelic compilation album Piccadilly Sunshine)

Prince – Girls and Boys (And pretty much the whole of Parade right now. I particularly love the line “She had the cutest ass he’d ever seen, he did too they were meant to be”.)

The Lemon Pipers – Green Tambourine (Perfect pop. Makes you happy without making you want to vomit)

The Who – My Wife (and most of Who’s Next. This one in particular always seems to make me laugh.)

Fox – He’s Got Magic (I very rarely skip past Fox songs. The lyrics are brilliant, baffling and beautiful, which is possibly partly to do with Noosha’s style of singing. Love.)

Live Aid

bryan ferry, david bowie, Duran Duran, live aid, nik kershaw, queen, simon le bon, the who, ultravox

Painful as it might be to realise, Live Aid happened 25 years ago today. Even more painful, I imagine, for those who remember it more vividly than I do. I was certainly aware of it, and I remember attending some bring-and-buy sale possibly on the same day, but I wasn’t really old enough to properly appreciate the talent (both musical and totty) on show that day.

It also means that it’s 25 years since Simon Le Bon made the biggest cock-up of his life, in front of a worldwide audience of millions. Ouch. People still use it against him but I can assure you that he has always hit that note when I’ve seen them live. So there.

Who’s the virgin?

Foale and Tuffin, iain r. webb, mod, peter blake, the who, website listings

Up until Tuesday night, I was a Who-virgin. Now, thanks to Senti, Charley and Lola, I’ve popped my Who-cherry as well as my Albert Hall-cherry. I’ve worked there enough times, but never been to see anything.

It was amazing. In aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust (of which Roger Daltrey is a patron) they performed the entire Quadrophenia album from start to finish, with some stunning visuals from the archives, the film version and newly filmed inserts of Jimmy’s spoken parts.

Frankly I don’t know how they did it. It’s a toughie. But I’m just grateful that they did, and that I was there to see it.

Zak [Starkey] in a box

Then, hanging around fruitlessly at stage door afterwards, Charley spotted Peter Blake coming out and we decided to be geeky together and go and get his autograph. The other day I found myself sitting on a sofa at the Oxford Literary Festival, chatting to the truly amazing Sally Tuffin. (I couldn’t really spin that one out into a blog post of its own, unless I had recorded the entire conversation for posterity…which would be very rude.) Who would later mention her friend Peter Blake in her talk with Iain R. Webb.

It seems amusingly bizarre that I should be asking him (with chattering teeth) for his autograph after a Who gig less than a week later. Life is weird…

In honour of all this mod-ness, here is a rather fabulous red, white and blue striped jumper by ‘Gay Girl Knits’ just listed over at Vintage-a-Peel.

p.s Since some people complain that I never show what I am wearing to these things, I’m going to try and be a bit better about doing it. So here is me in my Celia Birtwell (for Topshop, I’m not an idiot. I’m not going to wear my Ossie Clark original to a Who gig!!) top and hair up. I don’t often put my hair up, but the rain was pouring and I was buggered if I was going to let it control my mood. So up it went!

Seeing stripes….

brian jones, david bowie, Duran Duran, george harrison, John Taylor, keith moon, marc bolan, stripeyness, the who

I have a confession to make; I’m afraid I go weak at the knees for guys in stripes. Not any old stripey thing, I hasten to add, but nicely tailored Sixties or Seventies numbers (and a bit of early Eighties stripey shirt action, Duran-style). I’m not sure where it came from, or why it has such a strange effect on me, but I’m not sure I really care. I’m just enjoying the view…..

(sensory overload….Pattie in Ossie! George in stripes!! Where to look, where to look….)