With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

The David Bowie World Fan Convention 2022 – Day 3 June 19, 2022


Just how did the final day of the rather spiffing David Bowie World Convention come around so quickly? I really don’t know, but here it is. the day kicked off really well as I managed to complete a great set of autographs in the “Little People, Big Dreams – David Bowie” (written by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and illustrated by Ana Albero) for my 18-month-old grandson Leo. The book has dedications for Leo from John Cambridge, Woody Woodmansey, Donny McCaslin, Gail Ann Dorsey, Robin Clark, and Carlos Alomar. Carlos was kind enough to add a cartoon self-portrait. I plan to teach Leo everything I know about Dame David! I suspect that after the excellent Bowie Ball on Saturday night that there were a few sore heads in the audience for Sunday, but the schedule was busy and exciting.

Jonathan Barnbrook
Pegg, Duffy, Auliac, O’Regan

First up were a couple of very interesting and informative short films presented by the curators of the David Bowie Is exhibition, Victoria Broackes, and Geoffrey Marsh. This was followed by Jonathan Barnbrook a supremely talented designer who created the cover for Bowie’s final two albums and Heathen to name just a few. Not only is he a great designer he is also a confident and eloquent raconteur. His sense of humour is magnificent and frankly right up my street! After that Kevin Cann was back to facilitate a conversation with the owner and creator of the Duffy Archive, Chris Duffy. Chris is a talented photographer in his own right and his father was the person behind the iconic ‘Aladdin Sane’ album. Chris talked about his childhood, his father, Bowie, and many of the artists he has photographed. Very entertaining indeed! Chris returned for the next session in which Nicholas Pegg was in conversation with Mr. Duffy, Phillipe Auliac, and Denis O’Regan. It was pleasing to hear Phillipe say that it was him who shot Bowie not doing a Nazi salute at Victoria Station in 1976. I was there and there most definitely was not a nazi salute. The press turned a snapshot into a vile slur. O’Regan’s memories were enlightening, especially his story about the on-stage feuds between Mick and Keef. The final session was Nicholas Pegg in conversation with the obscenely talented Donny McCaslin. Donny went into great depths about the creation of ‘Black Star’ and the ‘No Plan’ EP. We learned that while Donny is a master of many instruments, the piccolo is not one of them. Donny shared some demos of his new project which is performing ‘Black Star’ and other Bowie songs with a full concert orchestra. The plan is for it to be performed for the first time in the US in September. Even the demos sounded magical, they made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end and I was washed with wonderfully warm emotions. Donny closed his session with a solo sax performance of, I think, “Warszawa”. Every session has been incredibly good, (apart from the NFT presentation on Friday), but I think Donny’s just about shaded it for me as the best of the whole weekend. Before we left we were treated to seeing all the remaining guests appear on stage as a final thank you.

Donny McCaslin

The 2nd David Bowie World Fan Convention is planned for June 2023 in New York, sadly I won’t be able to make that, but I am so glad I made it to Liverpool for this one. We met some great people, especially top bloke and our new friend Jeremy. Perhaps a slight disappointment was not being able to get into the incredibly limited capacity Bowie Quiz at Phase One. But that is minor and did not spoil a truly spectacular weekend!

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The David Bowie World Fan Convention 2022 – Day 2


All of us hard-core Bowie fans flocked back to the Mountford Hall in Liverpool on Saturday for day 2 of the magnificent David Bowie World Fan Convention. Proceedings were kicked off by Bowie specialist and author, Kevin Cann, If you ever had to choose someone who might truly be the font of knowledge for all things Bowie, Kevin might well be it, followed closely by Nicholas Pegg. Kevin’s rather excellent presentation centred on Bowie’s early years, particularly his childhood and early manager Ken Pitt. He shared some very rare clips and photographs that absolutely delighted his audience. Woody Woodmansey’s appearance on day 1 was incredibly funny, but early Bowie drummer John Cambridge’s session on Day 2 took the humour to another stratospheric level. What a wonderful raconteur he is and his memory definitely borders on photographic. He stayed in touch with David over the years and some of their interactions, particularly the emails he shared showed that both Cambo and Bowie possessed great comedy talent.

Nicholas Pegg was back on stage to facilitate the next session which featured Professor Alex Sharpe and Doctor Bethany Usher alongside John Cambridge and Woody Woodmansey. Woody clearly enjoyed the first day so much that he stayed on! Although we had two wonderfully talented academics on stage this was also quite a fun session too. It was really interesting to hear Professor Sharpe’s personal take on how Bowie had been so important in her journey as a transgender woman. Dr. Usher’s story about living opposite Roker Park in Sunderland as a young child and hearing David Bowie play there in the 80s started her own Bowie journey. John Cambridge confirmed what many of us probably believed that David Bowie was an alien. Obviously, I took that as a cast-iron fact! The day’s proceedings closed with Kevin Cann hosting a panel that included Carlos Alomar, Robin Clark, Gail Ann Dorsey, and Donnie McCaslin. This was perhaps the most emotional session we have experienced so far with all four of the panel sharing intimate memories of their friendship with Bowie including their very last conversations with him. My new friend Jeremy suggested that this might have been quite cathartic for them and I think he is right!

After that, we all dashed back to our hotels to sparkle up for the Bowie Ball. My wonderful wife Catherine and I used the theme of “put on your red shoes and dance the blues”. Check out our pictures below. There were some truly amazing costumes on show and so many people had made a huge effort to look great. Many of us are more all the old dudes (and dudettes) these days, but that didn’t stop us from having a great time enjoying some great film footage from Nacho (check out some of his fab Bowie videos below) and singing and dancing to a great Bowie tribute act, Rebel Heroes. We left just as the Bowie DJs started playing. Why so early? Well at our age we need the sleep! The venue, St. Georges Hall is a stunning and in places labyrinthian building. The size is breathtaking as are the stained glass windows. Day 3 will, I am sure be another epic day!

Catherine, me, and Jeremy jazzin’ for Blue Jean at the Bowie Ball
What a lucky man I am 🙂

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The David Bowie World Fan Convention 2022 – Day 1 June 17, 2022


Day 1 of the David Bowie World Fan Convention was good. Nicholas Pegg, writer, actor, Dalek, Twitter star, and wonderful interviewer facilitated sessions with Gail Ann Dorsey, Woody Woodmansey, RobinClark, and Carlos Alomar. Gail Ann Dorsey is an all-around wonderful human being she was really open about how sometimes she felt worried that she wasn’t very good. I have seen her play live and she is supremely talented! Woody Woodmansey has absolutely hilarious and extremely honest. Carlos Alomar was interviewed with his wonderful wife Robin Clark, what a stunning voice she has! They both came across as great people. I even got to ask them a question: “I was lucky enough to see David Bowie play live quite a few times from 1976 to 2004 and in every show, it seemed like Bowie and everyone on stage with him were really enjoying themselves, so what was your funniest moment on stage with David?” It was quite a brilliant but long reply focussing on Bowie’s sense of humour and how he turned Robin and Carlos on to British humour, including Monty Python. I thanked them both and added “nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition”. I was so pleased when Robin guffawed and looked over at me and said “Touche”, my day was made!

The evening drinks reception for us VIP guests at the British Music Experience in the Cunard Building was great, I will definitely be coming back to spend more time there, probably early next year with my delightful wife Catherine a.k.a Catwoman! A big shout out to a new friend and Bowie fanatic Jeremy too. His suggestion that I should dress up as the Laughing Gnome for the Bowie Ball tomorrow night was brilliant, I just wish that I thought of that ages ago! You can find a rather delightful video of me and Jeremy dancing to Madonna’s “Vogue” at the BME on the Mayhem Twitter account, our performance will definitely scare Madonna! Day 2 is looking good too, John Cambridge, Kevin Cann, and more from Gail, Woody, Robin, and Carlos!

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Mike Garson’s “A Bowie Celebration… Just For One Day” – Saturday January 9th 2021 January 19, 2021


I have watched a few streamed shows since this awful pandemic kicked in and like many of us I don’t believe that this type of show can ever replace real gigs. But for now this is all we have so let’s use it. As a huge Bowie fan for nearly 50 years I was obviously looking forward to this show. It was curated by the Dame’s long term piano man Mike Garson and included a wonderful range of Bowie alumni and a stack of special guests performing songs (around 40) from across the Starman’s career. It was an “as live” stream but incredibly well put together. The behind the scenes crew deserve a huge round of applause, they clearly did an amazing job, which in turn helped to provide us punters with three hours of classy Bowie themed entertainment.

First up was Duran Duran with their version of the ‘Ziggy Stardust’ album opener “Five Years”, I have never been a huge fan of Simon Le Bon’s voice, but this was a staggeringly good version of an iconic song. Duran Duran really pulled this off with aplomb. Lzzy Hale off of Halestorm was aided and abetted by Tony award winning actress and singer Lena Hall for a wonderfully theatrical cover of “Moonage Daydream”, very much a star performance from Lzzy and Lena. I have been a Smashing Pumpkins fan for many years, so I was looking forward to Billy Corgan’s piano led take on “Space Oddity”. But I felt it wasn’t a great performance, I am really not sure that Billy’s voice suited the song in this setting. Sorry Mr Corgan! Perry Farrell took on “The Man Who Sold The World” partnered by his wife Etty Lau Farrell and it was a perfect spine tingling take on one of Bowie’s finest tunes. Next there was a bluesy run through a somewhat deep cut, “Bring Me The Disco King” by Anna Calvi. This was originally a track released as a part of 2003’s ‘Reality’ album. Regular readers will know that I am not a fan of Take That’s Gary Barlow, so I cringed a little when I saw his name on the list. But to be very honest the boy did good. Barlow didn’t choose an easy option and went with 1975’s “Fame”. A real Five Star performance from Mr Barlow.

Living Colour’s Corey Glover was spot on with his gorgeous run through of “Young Americans”. This was followed by one of my favourite songs from that period, “Can You Hear Me” performed by the obscenely talented Gail Ann Dorsey who played in Bowie’s band for many years. “Sweet Thing/ Candidate/ Sweet Thing (Reprise)” is a tough song to cover but Bernard Fowler, highly regarded backing vocalist who has supplied backing vox to the Stones among many others didn’t just cover the song, he owned it and frankly, blew me away. Possibly my favourite performance of the whole event. Charlie Sexton, a man who has played with an incredible number of music luminaries appeared next with a funky work out of the 1983 classic “Let’s Dance” the first of four songs by him on the night. Judith Hill, a woman who has worked with Michael Jackson, Prince and John Legend to name just a few was next with a haunting rendition of “Lady Stardust” backed by some beautiful piano from Mike Garson. “Changes” as reimagined by Macy Gray was epic, where have you been Macy, the world needs you. Kevin Armstrong who worked with Bowie in the 80s played a rather excellent version of the Mick Ronson arrangement of Richard Rodgers’ “Slaughter On Tenth Avenue” which was dedicated by Mike Garson, to the memory of Ronson, Bowie and all Bowie alumni that have passed away.

Jazz Singer Catherine Russell sang an arrangement of “Conversation Piece” from the ‘Space Oddity’ album that was completely unrecognisable from the original and for me that made it a perfect cover version, I loved it! Next up was the return of Charlie Sexton with a Stones style take on Bowie’s Stones pastiche “Rebel Rebel”. This is one of my favourite songs from Bowie and Sexton did a great job with it. Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot was on board for two songs and I was a little surprised at his first one, “Win” from 1975’s ‘Young Americans’ album. Surprised but definitely not disappointed, Joe’s voice was immaculate and accompanied by the kind of piano heaven we have come to expect from Mike Garson. For the second song in his brace of Bowie Joe Elliott rocked hard through a powerful performance of “Ziggy Stardust”. Taylor Momsen frontwoman of the Pretty Reckless had a film to accompany her rendition of one of my favourite Bowie songs, especially lyrically, “Quicksand”. She really did the Dame proud it was quite moving at times and I love the subtle touches of her film, and to finish having written Bowie’s name in the sand was special indeed. Charlie Sexton returned for two more songs “DJ” and “Blue Jean”. Both of them fine performances and in fact the latter has moved me to reappraise my view of Bowie’s 80s output which is in my opinion mostly his low point artistically. But on this evidence, perhaps “Blue Jean” isn’t so bad after all. I saw Michael C Hall in the lead role of Thomas Jerome Newton in the Bowie musical ‘Lazarus’ in London in 2016, he was rather wonderful in that and his incredibly moving version of “Where Are We Now” here was wonderful too.

Foo Fighter’s drummer Taylor Hawkins, ably supported by Dave Navarro played a lively and rambunctious “Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide”. This segued into Corey Taylor doing “Hang On To Yourself” aided and abetted by Dave Navarro, Taylor Hawkins and Chris Chaney. But that segue included a nice little romp through “Little Fat Man” from Bowie’s appearance in Ricky Gervais’ ‘Extras’. Actor Gary Oldman was next accompanied by Mike Garson’s eloquent ivories for “I Can’t Read”. I liked that a lot! Jesse Malin’s “Jean Genie” really was top drawer, he aced it. The return of Gail Ann Dorsey brought with it a touchingly sublime take on “Srangers When We Meet”. The show then rocked out wildly with Peter Frampton on “Suffragette City” duties. This was followed by a brace of songs by a great friend and sometime collaborator of Bowie, Trent Reznor supported by Atticus Roos for “Fantastic Voyage” and “Fashion”. “Fantastic Voyage” which was never played often by Bowie was pretty darned good. Ian Astbury tackle “Lazarus”, he did well and put a lot of emotion into it, but I would also liked to have seen Ian tackle something more rock based, even a Tin Machine track maybe. YUNGBLUD poured his very essence into “Life On Mars” and it payed off in dividends, legendary keyboard player Rick Wakeman supported Mr BLUD. Long time Bowie fan Boy George was on top form for his medley of “Lady Grinning Soul”, “Time” and “Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)”. Mr O’Dowd, great respect from me, you nailed it. I was particularly looking forward to Ian Hunter’s performance and I wasn’t disappointed. He kicked off with his Bowie tribute “Dandy” and finished, obviously, with my favourite Bowie song ever, “All The Young Dudes”. I have never been much of a fan of Adam Lambert but there is no denying that he really did “Starman” well, perhaps enough to make me an Adam Lambert fan, time will tell. Judith Hill returned to support Andra Day as they cranked up “Under Pressure” into something even more anthemic than Bowie and Queen managed originally. Bernard Fowler closed proceedings with a highly charged “Heroes” which included some rather excellent drumming from Nandi Bushell.

The credits rolled with a rather decent “Ashes To Ashes” instrumental. Let us not forget the great band members and Bowie alumni that performed throughout the event too, Mike Garson especially, thank you for putting this together Mr Garson. Other band members throughout the evening, that I haven’t already mentioned, were, I think, Guitar: Earl Slick, Gerry Leonard and Carlos Alomar Bass: Carmine Rojas, Mark Plati, Tony Visconti, Tony Levin, Emir Kasan, Erdal Kizcilcay Keyboards: Richard Cottle, Henry Hey; Drums: Alan Childs, Zach Alford, Sterling Campbell, Matt Chamberlain, Omar Hakim, Mark Guiliana, John Lousteau, Gregg Errico, Andy Newark; Backing vocals: Gaby Moreno, Everett Bradley, Robin Clark, Emm Gryner, Ava Cherry, Simon Westbrook; Percussion: Pablo Rosario; Sax: David Sanborn, Clare Hirst, Stan Harrison. I am sure I have missed some names, but thank you to one and all this was a very special event and Mr Bowie would have loved it!

All the photos and videos were found online. If they are yours and you would like a credit or want them taken down please let me know

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“Oh man! Wonder if he’ll ever know he’s in the best selling show” January 8, 2012


It’s January 8th 2012 which means that David Robert Jones is now a pensioner; yes, Mr Bowie is officially an old bloke aged 65. I have made many posts about David Bowie since I started this blog and indeed I have posted on his birthday before as well. So what can I say that I haven’t said before about the Dame? Well how about some trivia about him that you may or may not have heard?

He left school with just one GCE O Level, which means that I left school with twice as many O Levels as he did. The lack of even minor academic qualifications hasn’t held him back though has it?

It is widely known that he shares a birthday with Elvis Presley who was born 12 years before Bowie in 1935. But did you know that he shares that birthday with a number of other music stars as well?

On top of that it is also the same date that the new North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was born in either 1983 or 1984 and Stephen Hawking in 1942.

I am in the middle of reading Peter Doggett’s book ‘The Man Who Sold The World – David Bowie And The 1970s’ which is a journey through the 70s song by song of everything Mr Bowie recorded. Parts of it are a little too muso for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an excellent book. I have learnt some new things about Bowie, which is really something for a moderately obsessive fan! Did you know that Bowie had wanted Phil Spector to produce the ‘Aladdin Sane‘ album? I certainly didn’t, but it would have been a fascinating mix of styles. That album sold less than half of the nearly 11 million sales achieved by the ‘Lets Dance’ album in 1983.

It would be fair to say that “Rebel Rebel” from the ‘Diamond Dogs’ album is a brilliant pastiche of the Rolling Stones. Did you know that Bowie also provided backing vocals and hand-claps on the Stones hit “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll” from 1974? Live Aid in 1985 prompted Bowie and Mick Jagger to record together again with a cover of Martha and the Vandellas “Dancing In The Street”. Not the best cover version in the world in my opinion. In a survey by the PRS last year it was voted as the song that most people would play at street parties to celebrate last years Will and Kate Royal nuptials.

As well as being a musician David has always been a music fan as well and has often championed some of his favourite acts. Back in the early 70s he heard that Mott The Hoople were about to break up so he got in touch and offered them a song to persuade them to stay together. The band went on to have a massive hit with Bowie’s “All The Young Dudes” but did you know that the first song he offered them was “Suffragette City”? They turned it down saying that it didn’t really suit them. Bowie went on to produce Mott’s ‘All The Young Dudes’ album with Mick Ronson. In 1975 Ronson became a member of the band for a short while and recorded what became their farewell single “Saturday Gigs” with them.

So that’s enough of my drivel and it just remains for me to wish David Bowie a fantastic 65th birthday and to share with you the most played Bowie tracks on Spotify in descending order;

 

 
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