David Bowie 1947-2016: Often Copied, Never Equalled

Scary Monsters Ad NME Sept 27 80

A week after Bowie’s passing and I still can’t quite process that he has gone.

I was pretty gutted when Lou Reed died but Bowie’s death has hit me even harder. It’s impossible for me to think back on my life without the music of David Bowie being an integral part of its soundtrack through the decades. We’ve lost a creative giant and someone whose work touched my life irrevocably. This is a real chapter-closer, severing a big link with my youth.

However, it’s heartwarming to see the amazing reaction the world the world has given him upon his passing. And he went out on top, doing his best work in decades with Blackstar, upping the bar he’d been resetting with Heathen and The Next Day.  I am glad I had three days to listen to and absorb it prior to his death, marveling that, at age 69, he was actually breaking new ground, with Blackstar largely being unlike anything else in his back catalogue. I can think of other music artists doing good stuff at 69, but I for the life of me can’t think of anyone other than Bowie doing something new at that age, and doing it well. That’s inspiring.

I was lucky enough to see Bowie five times and, in writing about the first time in 1983, I also wrote in-depth about what Bowie meant to me and how he impacted my life.  I’ll simply relink to what I have already written rather than further reiterate.

Thanks for everything, David. RIP.  You’ll be missed.

022a: Changes: Bowie, The 70s and Me

022b: Let’s Dance: David Bowie with Rough Trade, CNE Stadium, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Saturday September 3, 1983

TorontoStar Cover Shot

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022b. Let’s Dance: David Bowie with Rough Trade, September 3, 1983

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Ten years on from my hearing “Space Oddity,” I finally get to see and hear Bowie live during the Serious Moonlight tour.

022b. Let’s Dance: David Bowie with Rough Trade, CNE Stadium, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Saturday September 3, 1983, $22.50

In Part One, I wrote about what Bowie and glam rock meant to me, my impressions on how his emergence had a broader impact on the 1970s, and explored his musical shape-shifting.
In this third and final segment, I focus on his 1983 comeback via the glossy commercial juggernaut, Let’s Dance, and my thrill at taking in a brilliant set at CNE Stadium — with openers Rough Trade — along with my pal Miss Bennies and 60,000 others over the Labour Day weekend.

Interest ran high for this new Bowie album in my corner of the world. What bold new step forward would this upcoming release portend? What adventurous new direction would his sound take?

In my mind, I had the idea that it would be some kind of merge between synthpop and noisy, angular post-punk experimentation, something like The Human League meets The Birthday Party. Read the rest of this entry »


019. Walking on the Moon: Police Picnic III featuring The Police, Peter Tosh, James Brown, King Sunny Adé, & more, August 5, 1983

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Three consecutive summers of Police Picnics — and four consecutive summers of music festivals — come to a close for me with this final edition.

019. Walking on the Moon: Police Picnic III featuring The Police, Peter Tosh, James Brown, King Sunny Adé, Blue Peter, and The Fixx, CNE Stadium, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Friday August 5, 1983, $20.

Another summer, another all-day music festival in Toronto headlined by The Police. The last of the three, in fact.

It was part of the band’s final tour undertaken during the time of their original existence, as a promotional vehicle for their fifth album, Synchronicity, which was an immediate blockbuster upon its early June release. Advertised as being along for the ride this time were former Wailer and reggae legend Peter Tosh; the brilliant King Sunny Adé and His African Beats; bland, contemporary new wavers The Fixx; Toronto’s own Blue Peter, then nearing both a career peak and the last throes of their existence; and, best of all and initially the biggest reason for my purchasing a ticket, Scotland’s Simple Minds, then finishing up their global flogging of what is for my money the one truly brilliant long-playing moment of their career: 1982’s New Gold Dream.

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011. What A Day That Was: The Police Picnic II with The Police, the Talking Heads, the (English) Beat, Joan Jett and more, August 13, 1982

Hmmm … this ticket looks familiar …

011. What A Day That Was: The Police Picnic II with The Police, The Talking Heads, The (English) Beat, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, A Flock of Seagulls, and The Spoons, CNE Stadium, Toronto, Ontario, Friday August 13, 1982, $22.

Sometime during the early morning hours of Saturday August 14th, 1982, a Music Mann Tours bus pulled up to Victoria Park in downtown London, Ontario, Canada. Among those descending from the bus were myself, Lady Bump, and Le Château: the same trio that went to the OMD show in March. Although, with us, it was more like we were crawling out of it rather than walking off of it. I seem to recall kissing the pavement upon our return.

OK, that last touch may just be my imagination running away with me. But there is no doubting the memory of my/our utter relief and joy at being back in the hometown we so often derided.

It was supposed to have been such a fun day. Where did it all go wrong?

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