The book's premise:
"Drawn from a series of conversations between David Bowie and Dylan Jones across three decades, together with over 180 interviews with friends, rivals, lovers, and collaborators - some of whom have never before spoken about their relationship with Bowie - this oral history is an intimate portrait of a remarkable rise to stardom and one of the most fascinating lives of our time."
Bowie and Iggy went to see a screening of Taxi Driver in Berlin, and Iggy was so knocked out by the film that he immediately went and got a Mohawk, a Travis Bickle Mohawk. And Bowie went and saw a bunch of Fassbinder films and decided to grow a mustache. They were creating new identities for themselves, pretending they weren’t rock stars, but rather reluctant émigrés. The NME got wind that Bowie had grown a mustache, and we printed this in our gossip column. On the day this issue hit the streets, I was in the office waiting for a phone call while everyone else was out at lunch. So every time the phone rang I had to pick it up, and I got a series of calls from hysterical, obviously gay young men asking me if this was true, that he’d grown a mustache. They were all flabbergasted. Why had he done it? Was it really true? Did we have photographs? People were incensed. A lot of these people were from the north, and I always imagine they were Holly Johnson [from Frankie Goes to Hollywood] and Steven Morrissey. It gave me an insight into how extreme Bowie’s influence on his audience was.
We owe it all to Morrissey. He was opening for David Bowie, and then one day he got on the tour bus and left his band behind and drove home to his mum’s. We happened to have the same agent at the time, so when that happened he played David our demo. This happened before we had a deal, certainly before we had our first album out. I must have been about twenty-four or twenty-five. It did wonders for my ego. I was a little unstoppable after that. And on the strength of this demo, he asked us to fill Morrissey’s shoes. This was towards the end of the Outside tour. So we toured with Earthling, and then Heathen. He took us under his wing, and we became one of his favorite support bands. We even opened up his fiftieth birthday party at Madison Square Garden, which was an incredible thing to do for a band who hadn’t released their first album yet. I first met David backstage in an arena in Milan, at our first show. He turned out to be genuine and without pretension, and he continued to make time for us through the years. He would make a point of coming to speak to us before our show, at festivals we would eat together, and I kind of felt that during those five years I was in his orbit I gained an incredibly illustrious friend and a mentor. First of all he taught me that you don’t have to be a dick, you know, just because you are who you are. He was incredibly generous with his time and incredibly polite with people, but not in a superficial way. The other thing, as a musician, when my tiny band joined his tour, he was playing a lot of his new music, he was beginning to work with Trent Reznor, and wasn’t trying to rest on his laurels but trying to pull his music into the present and into the future. He said that the future comes to those who can see it coming.
David would occasionally get grumpy, but everyone gets grumpy. He was never angry, though. Even when Morrissey walked off his tour. David called him to try and get him to come back, but Morrissey wouldn’t call him. Can you imagine anyone not returning David Bowie’s phone call? I tried to sue Morrissey for the £20,000 I’d paid him, but then someone pointed out that no one had complained.
ROBERT CHALMERS (JOURNALIST):
I am by no means an expert on David Bowie. I never interviewed him, never met him, and I’m not familiar with all of his work. I only ever saw him live once. Despite being a tireless name-dropper, I have not mentioned the following incident to anybody on social media or elsewhere and I think it does offer some small insight into the man.
I was sitting at home one Sunday afternoon…it would have been around 1995…when the phone rang. “Robert? It’s David Bowie.”
“Oh, really?” [This came in a period when Dylan Jones had called me on a couple of occasions successfully masquerading as a star who was eager to meet me, or more usually inflict grievous bodily harm].
“The David Bowie?” [The inanity of that remark is not lost on me.]
“Right, well just f*** off, Dylan, I told you I’d had enough of this after the Alex Higgins incident.”
“Where did you get my number?”
“From Damien [Hirst].”
“OK ‘David,’ then, what’s your date of birth?”
“January the eighth, 1947.”
[Pause while I consult The Encyclopaedia of Rock and Pop. I have a sudden queasy realization that this is not my Friend of a Thousand Voices but the creative genius behind Station to Station and “Heroes.”]
“Oh shit. And you caught me [he had] listening to Morrissey.”
[Good-natured laugh from him] “Well, it could have been much worse.”
Damien Hirst had given David Bowie my number so that he could talk to me about a project that involved buying a Greek Island and, as I recall, placing the embalmed body of a human volunteer (yet to be found) at the heart of a labyrinth which they planned to construct. Oddly enough, I think this scheme came to nothing. What I remember is the good grace with which he accepted being told to go f*** himself in the course of a call he had no need to make, his generosity with his time, and his general sense of irony and good humor. I think I have only ever encountered two interviewees blessed both with an unusual level of self-regard, and a very likeable ability to laugh at themselves; the other, oddly enough, being Morrissey.
Jones has written a few small articles mentioning Morrissey in the past too.
This book's contents would have featured sooner had I actually got round to reading when I first bought it
It received several awards and plaudits on release in 2017.
(PM me re: ?)