In 1969 I trekked down to Beckenham with Bob Harris. I had recently founded Time Out and Bob was embarking on his career as a DJ. He had been booked to play in a school hall and David Bowie, with very long perfect hair nearly down to his waist and wearing a floor length dress, was the live act. Just him and a guitar. The audience was tiny but very engaged. Afterwards Bowie was very quiet and hard to involve in conversation. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, just another hippy folk singer.’ So his later emergence with a guitar and makeup was a very pleasant surprise!
Over the subsequent years I saw him at The Rainbow as Ziggy Stardust and Wembley Arena as The Thin White Duke. I did not buy all his CDs as they came out and have been catching up ever since. Only last week I was playing ‘The Best of Bowie 1980-87’ and thinking how his music was extraordinarily strong and current. I still kick myself for only discovering tracks like ‘Scary Monsters’ in the last decade.
But ‘Heroes’ figured large. When we moved the Time Out offices from Gray’s Inn Road to Tower House in Covent Garden in the summer of 1977 it became the house anthem played through the public address system at maximum volume day and night as we assembled the office layout.
One of the great pleasures of my life has been that I am one day older than David Bowie. He was born on January 8 1947. I was born January 7 1947. So his death at exactly my age is particularly resonant.
I saw him as related to me: a Capricorn, a perfectionist, entrepreneurial, a bit of a loner, someone who liked to always explore anything new, a risk taker. He was not just a major singer-songwriter, but one of the core group of creative people who have influenced all that is around us today.
I have no doubt that his legacy will live on forever and he will never be far away.