Don’t let me hear you say life’s taking you nowhere – Dewey!
This is my story of how one minute i was watching the wombles open up a superstore (scan superstores) and before you know it I am running through London threatening to hitch-hike to Belgium.
I first got into Bowie because one of my 3 older brothers had a couple of vinyl albums that I used to play non stop. I am not sure when it was but I do remember being taken aback by the top of the pops performance of starman and because it was before totp2 and the advent of music television I believe it was 1972. (Although among Bowie fans watching this totp is like saying you were at the free trade hall to watch the sex pistols).
It was probably the fact that I was the baby of the household that meant I was to have a very varied taste in music. I grew up in a house with Nat king cole playing in the kitchen (on my dads stereogram), tamla motown in another (Bernard), with northern soul (Pete) and slade (Dave) playing upstairs.
But the first new Bowie album I remember waiting to come out was changesonebowie which was 1976. (My brothers did have diamond dogs and Aladdin sane but I can not remember them coming out . Give me a break I was not yet in my teens and I wanted to be rivilino)
It was around this time that I was to have a life changing moment.
My brother Pete asked me to buy him under the moon of love by showaddywaddy. Because he was too embarrassed to buy it himself he gave me 50p for the single and 50p for me to buy a single of my own.
It wasnt the first record I had bought, that honour went to Benny Hill with Ernie (the fastest milkman in the west) in 1971 and the first album I bought was the wombles in 1972. (I must try and download their back catalogue)
But it was the first time I had walked into a record shop with money in my pocket and no idea what record to get. I ended up getting a few out of the bargain bin (including golden years) but the time spent trawling through hot chocolate, david cassidy, bay city rollers etc showed me that the joys of browsing through piles and piles of future frisbees to find that gem (even if it had no centre because it was on a pub jukebox only weeks ago) was something that was to become a permanent obsession.
Once I had begun my record collecting adventure it soon consumed all my spare pocket money/paper round wages/full time wages.
Most of my hunting was for Bowie records and my favourite stomping grounds were Robinsons records, rare records, rimmers second hand shop (although it was upsetting that if you were burgled you could normally buy your records back here) and the wonder of Woolworths.
I still remember how shocked I was when I went through my brothers record collection and he had 6 al green albums ( now that what I call obsessive ) but here I am straight out of puberty and my bowie collection has already surpassed the obsessive mark.
This also came at a great time to be a collector of Bowie records.
Bowies career had peaked in the early seventies and was now seen to be in decline (although now his Berlin period is regarded by many as his finest moments) and so there were a lot of bargains to be had.
I was forever being told that Bowie used to be good but he has now lost it (ring any bells all you doubters of his more recent works?)
All this was to change with the release of the debut single off scary monsters.
Ashes to ashes was everything i could have hoped for a superb song and a groundbreaking video and a return for major tom as a junkie and Bowie ridding himself of his lost years as a junkie.
Suddenly it was fashionable to like Bowie again and he was again seen as a trendsetter. (Prior to this if you were a Bowie fan you were referred to as a Bowie freak and I kind of miss that)
Following on from Scary monsters came his biggest selling album off all time. Lets dance
This was the album to bring him into mainstream across the globe and is still seen by some as his biggest downfall (obviously I strongly disagree and I believe that many of his later albums are among his finest works)
But the success he was having meant a long awaited tour.the serious moonlight tour.
And because of my age the first chance to see the mainman in the flesh. (I can still see the tears in fellow quims member Simons eyes when he played heroes)
The only problem with Bowies success was that tickets were hard to get myself and a different quims member werty went to Germany to see Bowie and were stunned that even though the stadium was full we easily made our way to the front with very little resistance (we couldnt tell if they were swearing at us)
I queued up all night to get live aid tickets just because Bowie was one of the 4 they named (although to see 80,000 people throwing bottles up in the air while Paul McCartney was on was worth the ticket price itself.)
On his next tour the glass spider tour tickets were getting easier to get due to the poor response to his last 3 albums but he was still selling out stadiums all over Europe.
I went to quite a few on this tour but the first one was in Belgium. Me and my workmate Chris were getting a coach from London to Belgium at 17.00 unfortunately we arrived in London at 11 am and headed straight for the pub.
When we turned up early for the coaches at 6.30pm there was no sign of the coaches (in our drunken state we had read 17.00 as 7 pm . Doh! )
Like a complete psychopath I grabbed my bag and started running to the train station. Chris was confused and when I told him we were going to Dover then hitch hiking to Belgium he went a funny green colour and said that I was unhinged (I probably was but I had paid to see Bowie and I was not going to miss out)
We spent the night at my brothers pub in croydon and thats when I had a dream about getting on a skipper (a coach that skips across to Europe to the concert and leaves right after the concert coming home).
My dream came true and across we went although Chris has not been the same since.
Even though bowie tickets were getting easier to get hold of in the bigger venues when bowie played at the Manchester academy I did not get one so off I went to see what price the touts wanted.
All the big guys were selling them at £140 and were intimidating anyone who dared to ask a passer-by if they had spare tickets.
I had set a £100 limit on getting a ticket and when I noticed a 1 armed tout (I kid you not) over the road I decided to try my luck.
He wanted £120 for a ticket so I offered £30 (let the battle commence) I told him that I was just passing and I am not that big a Bowie fan . He asked how much money I had on me and I said £50… he said that I could have it for £60 but I reminded him that I only have £50 he then says £55 is his final offer again I remind him that I only have £50 After much walking away on both parts he agrees to sell it to me for £50.
I am feeling pretty smug with myself and go to hand over the cash but to my horror I realise that I only have £20 notes and that even though I said that I had only £50 I will need ten pounds change. I did not know until that day how quick a one handed man can be to give a tenner, a concert ticket, take £60 and still find time to do the wanker sign all in one move.
I felt very isolated and embarrassed every time I looked across the road to see his full range of hand signals but thats the kind of sacrifice we all make for our love of music.
I look forward to the time Bowie gets over his dodgy ticker and fear of flying lollipops to tour again. But please wait for me to get my ticket before you think of getting one because I know the sound of
one hand clapping
Mike Dewsnip 05.02.07