Charles Shaar Murray of NME meets David Bowie, 1973



Advertising functionality with Universal Pictures – This article originally appeared in May 1973 in the New Musical Express

Angie Bowie is a gas. She really is. She sits between Cherry Vanilla and an ice bucket at a table in the colossally elegant main dining room of the Hotel George Cinq in Paris, and she entertains.

If you put a TV camera on Angie and just left her there for an hour, you’d have an amazing show if she’s in good shape, and she is today.

She tells the story of her husband’s first post-retirement gig with the Spiders, and as the story progresses she slips into various roles: Tony DeFries; Bowie’s bodyguard, Stuart; 600 groundhog monsters; and David himself.

His mimicry is disturbing.

When she imitates DeFries, a slight hint of a double chin appears out of nowhere, and her tones become measured and completely British. She speaks loudly, and despite the patented Gallic imperturbability, she freaks out the servers par excellence, but she does it in style.

Suddenly, a bellboy materializes by Angie: makes sure of his identity; then informs her that her husband is waiting for her upstairs. Her face lights up, she apologizes and dances towards the elevator, hopping like a little girl coming home from school.
There’s a press conference scheduled in less than an hour, and the French press is going to have to hastily collect all their bags and luggage at the station – but what are the expense reports for, anyway?

The gathering will be held downstairs in a huge red room prefaced with woodwork and large advertisements for Steiner makeup. Inside, the French press is busy: a curious mix of old cats in suits and rent-a-hippies. Bowie is late, and they sure aren’t happier.

Suddenly he is there …

Bowie’s hair is moddy cut in the 1966 Marquee pillpopper, and he’s adorned in various shades of purple, mauve, and silver. More than ever, he has one of those faces of an English kid with a boiling beak, like young Tom Courtenay. He looks in good shape.
The question of openness is quite disastrous. “Should we call you like her or like him?” “
But Bowie isn’t that easily pissed off. With a perfect urbanity and case be replies: “You address Cherry Vanilla like ‘her’. And I as’ Mr. Bowie ‘. To use the current slang around Bowie’s camp, faaaabulous.

Across the room someone shouts, “Mr. Bowie, how was your trip? “Busy. We started from Yokohama to Nahodka. We took trains through Siberia, we stayed in Moscow for the May 1 parade, and we came out via Poland and East Germany. C ‘is the actual geography of it.

“Russia is an impossible country to talk about – it’s so big. There really is very little to say. People, we found them very warm, in general. When we got to Moscow it was colder. It was very hot in Siberia.

“There is very little to say except people. There was a TV producer whose name I can’t remember on the train who wanted Japanese books that I had with me. He hadn’t seen Western books for something like sixteen years …

“It was Vladivostok, which is now a fishing port. He was completely drunk and offered me large sums of money for books. I would have given them to him, but they were given to me by the artist – Mantandori Yoku from Tokyo.

A horde of photographers is now squatting in front of the table. David is half obscured by an amorphous tangle of bodies and equipment. The constant clicking and blazing flashes soon seemingly become separate from any prosaic cause and quickly assumes the status of a natural phenomenon.

Next subject is Mick Ronson. “I don’t disrespect Mick, but he’s what you might call a technician, and he puts things on paper that I can’t put myself. I can’t write music, and he can. He translates for me.

“I try, if I can, to do a little demo at home, and I try to layer the sounds that I want. He does all things with strings.

“I can’t write strings – I can’t think of strings. I usually do the electronic effects and patterns and a few guitar phrases. I tell him what I want; he develops it.
The next contestant looks for an explanation of the three dates in ‘Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)’.

“I was just trying to preface the song a bit with feelings of impending doom, which I felt while writing in America. It was the next starting point for disaster. I guess I feel. this since 1940, whatever it was.

There’s a mention of Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and Mott the Hoople, and a question as to who’s next.

“I really have no idea. I don’t have anyone in mind who I want to work with. I don’t know if anyone wants to work with me. At the time, I had time.

“Now, time is another commodity that I have less and less of. “

He was asked if he felt like he scammed Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. Bowie responds with “You should ask Iggy Pop and Lou Reed,” but later confides that his knuckles were white under the table.

How does he feel, question, about the successful reissue of his first records?

“Oh, I’m too old to have opinions.”

How old is he? “I would like to say that I have no age, but I am 26 years old. “

David Bowie at Victoria Station, London, July 9, 1973. He is on his way to France to record his cover album, ‘Pinups’ at the Château d’Hérouville. (Photo: Smith / Daily Express / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

A bit later we settled in with the caviar and the champagne and the smoked salmon, chatting this and that and the other with Cherry, Angie, Andrew Hoy, Geoff MacCormack, Lee Childers and Joe Stevens.

A host of international RCA-ers are brought in; politely look at the product; and came out again.

Eventually David, Angie, Geoff, Joe and I get in the limo and go out to dinner, and virtually every subject imaginable creeps into the increasingly wine-drenched conversation.

Morning brings the Gare du Nord, and we await the arrival of the Bowie Traveling Circus so that we can take the 12:30 pm water train and escort The Man to good old England. The train comes out. David didn’t show up, and needless to say, we’re not either. I have a little icy feeling that things are starting to take a turn for the worse.

12.45 and Lee and Cherry and David and Angie and Geoff and Andrew arrive. The henchmen of the George Five hadn’t been as nimble and quick with the trunks and stuff as they should have been, so with an air of faint trepidation we cross the road for beer and ham sandwiches. .

From train to hovercraft. Photography and tax-free products. Bowie films everything that moves, and a few little things that don’t… presumably to overcome the drama of actually being six inches off the ground for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile in Victoria, about three hundred young chicks go quietly away. Every time a train arrives, it is assaulted, which must confuse the passengers more than a little. Finally, a message from Tannoy reveals what happened. Half the chicks make their way to Charing Cross, while the other half, convinced it’s a hoax, clings to Victoria.

Back at Dover station, Bowie begins to stand out. On the quayside, he signed an autograph for a serious Scottish lady – himself the sign “Edmund Gross”.

“Is this your real name?” she asks plaintively. He assures her that it is. As he finds himself stuck in his tea and sausage roll in the canteen, fans start to stare out the windows. And the moment he’s out on the platform, they’ve got their platform tickets and they run out.

“Where is he, where is he?” “

“That’s him there, the one with the sausage roll!”

Now can you dig that? The people Bowie hangs out with are me and Joe Stevens, and their way of referring to him is to mention that he’s the one with the sausage roll.

Before we know where we are, it’s Charing Cross and there’s a high-pitched howl coming through the windows. Instant trouble as everyone tries to collect their bags.
Behind me, Angie is pulling on my sleeve. “Do you want to go out with him and protect him a bit?” But in the hustle and bustle of the hallway, there’s no way David can form a circle of trust, for he’s already slipped onto the platform and vanished under a bubbling mass of teenage flesh. And that, as they say, is faaaabulous too.

Within seconds, the police have dragged David into his limo and a few kids are devoting their attention to Angie, begging her for everything she has. Soon she too is well stuck in a car. She looks tiny and alone in the plush leather cave.

The next night, Bowie has a welcome meeting at his apartment in Beckenham and all of his friends are there. Tony Visconti with Mary Hopkin, Lindsay Kemp, Mick Ronson, Chelita Secunda, Ken Scott, Sue Fossey, Fred from the East End and many other scintillating people, all eating chicken and drinking wine.

Her son Zowie runs around and is chased by Angie with a bottle. She plays with him in a frantic attempt to tire him out, but only manages to exhaust herself. And incidentally, the next time you hear rumors of the Bowies being split up, ignore them. They are not real. Certainly not.

The man looks great in his Japanese shirt and silver pants. “The police were fabulous. They were all big bearded guys ”- he magically becomes a beefy policeman -“ and they all said “’Ang on Dave, we will help you’. They were great. “

So now the party is over, and we are all looking forward to the big concert at Earls Court.

It should be faaaabulous – you know?

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