‘Devoid of personality’: BBC verdict on early Bowie audition unearthed
A new documentary reveals the scathing dismissal of the BBC Talent Selection Group on one of Bowie’s first groups, the Lower Third
The audition took place four years before Bowie found fame with his eponymous 1969 album and the single Space Oddity. While the BBC’s decision looks comic in retrospect, no Bowie aficionado would suggest that his mid-60s output contained much intimation of his future genius.
I’ve said this before and there’s a truth to it even if it’s not the whole and entire such. He adopted a personality along the way. There’s much more of Bowie being an actor performing a role in each song – perhaps album, perhaps character across a few – than there is with most. Yes, extremely talented musician and all the rest. But an untrue but useful view is that he performed a series of 3 minute skits in character rather than was “Bowie.”
As to why, well, Davy Jones didn’t cut it, did he?
But if the children aren’t forced to learn the crumhorn then how will we all collect our Arts Council subsidies for pieces that require the crumhorn?
They are the big beasts of the orchestra, famous for their booming depths and resounding crescendos.
But the days of the oboe, bassoon, french horn and tuba could be numbered, an arts chief has warned, as interest from the younger generations has dwindled to such a low that the instruments now risk becoming extinct.
Lucy Noble, the Royal Albert Hall’s artistic and commercial director, has blamed the demise of these orchestral instruments on the fact that the “YouTube generation” has less exposure to live music.
There is actually an easy answer here. The process of learning to play an instrument comes in two parts. Learning the instrument and learning music. Once that second is learned then it’s very, very, much easier to learn another of the first. So, change the relative wages for these instruments an we’ll get, say, clarinettists or saxophone players lining up to perform on the contrabassoon. It’s really not necessary to start at age 5 on one in order to be able to play it when 25 you know.
Then in April 1988, Bertin and some band members – mostly drug addicts, and several infected with the HIV virus – mounted a major armed robbery with the aim of spending the cash before they died.
They successfully pulled off the heist, stealing 12 million francs (almost €2 million) from a Brinks deposit in Toulouse, western France. No-one was injured in the robbery.
In jeans and a grey shirt, Bertin told the Toulouse court that the heist had taken two years to prepare in order to avoid violence. Despite their anarchist ways, the court was told that the band carried out a “quasi-military” operation to such an extent that police first through they were dealing with hardened gangsters.
However, the group then gave the game away somewhat by ringing the local newspaper to boast of their feat.
What Holmstrom remembers of AC/DC is the band’s bone-simple, timeless approach. “They certainly weren’t your traditional heavy metal band,” he notes. “The heavy metal of the mid-70s was a ponderous, bombastic, slow music. They were a high-energy rock & roll band and, before the Sex Pistols changed the image of punk rock from faster and louder to a more political and anthemic music, AC/DC could be classified as punk.” Holmstrom continues, “Then again, so were the Bay City Rollers, Alice Cooper, the Stooges, the New York Dolls, Eddie and the Hot Rods, and hundreds more bands.
You could argue for the rest of your life about what constitutes the first rock’n’roll record and, indeed, on the internet, there are people prepared to do that. An exhaustive 82-track 2011 compilation comes up with candidates for the title, with varying degrees of plausibility, and with tunes dating back to 1915.
But Fats Domino’s 1949 single The Fat Man has a stronger claim than most. Based on Junkers’ Blues, a 1940 track originally recorded by Champion Jack Dupree, there’s almost nothing to it. A pounding, unchanging backbeat and an insistent bass pulse; Domino on piano, playing in a style noticeably more aggressively than that of his peers; saxes and guitar buried so deep in the mix that you barely even spot them until the song’s finale; some falsetto scat singing and three verses that replace Junkers’ Blues’ references to cocaine, reefers and heroin with lyrics that laud both Domino’s bulk and his irresistible sexual abilities: “I weigh two hundred pounds, all the girls love me, because I know my way around.” It sold a million copies and transformed Domino overnight from the pianist in Billy Diamond’s Solid Senders, a locally popular New Orleans band, into a star.
Fats Domino, the New Orleans rhythm and blues singer whose hits include Blueberry Hill and Ain’t That a Shame, has died aged 89 of natural causes.
Domino, born in 1928 and one of nine siblings, left school at 14 to take on work in a bedspring factory – but went on to sell over 110m records in a career that took off in the mid-1950s, having learned piano on an upright a cousin left in his New Orleans family home.
I think, and am open to correction here, that the reason he doesn’t appear at the top of the lists of records sold is that most of these were 78s and then 45s, not albums.
The only uncomfortable bit of the night was its title: We Are Manchester. I looked around the Arena and saw almost exclusively white faces. You could blame it on the guitar bands, to whose charms the BAME community has largely remained immune. But high up on the bill was Bugzy Malone, a young black grime artist who raps about Manchester’s 0161 dial code, despite almost certainly never using a landline. Thirty-three per cent of the local population is not white. Where were they?
Music bill to appeal to largely white audience has largely white audience.