Everybody seems to love David Bowie these days. He has an exhibition on at the Victoria and Albert Museum which is sold out until summer and a number one album. He’s celebrating 1977 and his return to Britain from a long spell in Berlin, making ‘Low’.I like the album ‘Low’ probably because of the other people who contributed to it. It’s worth listening to again, very stark. I can’t deny the influence he had but…
Actually, I think he is shallow and empty and always was, soaking up other peoples work and style. A chameleon mimicking what was around him. His use of image and fashion is as deep and original as an advertising executive’s theft of popular/street culture to sell things.
And now I think of it, Bowie worked in advertising, so perhaps that is what it was.
Very few remember his arrival in Britain, back from Berlin in 1977, coming out of the airport in a large open top limousine surrounded by the press and TV, dressed in nazi uniform, making nazi salutes.
It was meant to shock for publicity, luckily most people ignored it, because it was a really dangerous time in Britain. It seems bizarre to me even now – I don’t think Berlin in those days would have inspired such a display, neither would the kind of people who had worked with him on the album.
In Britain it prompted the creation of Rock Against Racism as a protest, and I am really, really proud to have played an active part in all that. RAR actually did change the world. It was when people like me fought back against ‘life on Mars’. Maybe I should post a few stories from my street fighting days, some day.