R.I.P. David Bowie (1947–2016)

Royston Langdon of Spacehog on David Bowie in MAGNET, from 2013:

As a 17-year-old lad from the north of England, I had great aspirations of adventure inspired in part by Jack Kerouac’s now legendary On The Road. So off I toddled in my threadbare camper van christened The Dormabeast to France, bound for no particular place. Along with me came a cassette player and three albums only. One of these was David Bowie’s Low.

I have often been compared with Bowie, and he certainly counts as one of my greatest mentors musically, and I know I’m not alone here. This album encompasses the best he has to offer. It starts and ends with instrumentals. Side one (as it was then) has some great songs such as “Always Crashing In The Same Car” and, of course, “Sound And Vision.” Still, it’s side two that remains for me indelibly etched into my consciousness. Brian Eno is a big part of this haunting and beautiful soundscape. It was certainly the soundtrack to my nights back then in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in rural France.

Years later I was introduced to Bowie by the late and great Alexander McQueen. At the time, Bowie had just finished Heathen and was planning a show to play only that album and, interestingly, Low in its entirety at Roseland Ballroom in New York. Meeting one’s mentors can often be disappointing, though this wasn’t how it was for me with Mr. Bowie. On the contrary, he couldn’t have been sweeter. He said he’d heard of Spacehog and that he liked us. Wow! It was almost too much for me to handle.

Subsequently, he would often call me early in the morning and invite me to his rehearsals for that show. I would sit there, reverently listening with headphones to a younger David counting off the bars to those ambient pieces, a track muted on the recordings from 1977. He and band all played along with synthesizer, Bowie occasionally taking the solo saxophone lines whilst interspersing those vocal chants merely feet away from my ears.

Although Low is counted as one of the Berlin series of Bowie, it was, until very recently unbeknown to me, predominately recorded in France. I now wonder how close I was back then in France, to where Low was born. There are no accidents in my life though little did I know then where this magical soundtrack of my life would take me. Where is next?

May God preserve and keep you, David, and thank you.