The ZIGGY STARDUST Companion

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Angela Bowie Interview
Part 1
2/3

An old Polaroid of David and myself in 1974
(Dana Gillespie private collection)

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Can you remember when David first discussed the Ziggy concept?

There were a lot of people at Haddon Hall and David discussed the album with all of them, played them tracks and then suddenly would come from the studio with something they had rehearsed downstairs and I had never heard before.

"Kansai Yamamoto with me in Japan, cheering the boys on,
hours before he had to save me from the Japanese police"
from Backstage Passes (1993) Photo by
Dagmar

"Thirty pairs of trousers and as many jackets were needed at the start of David's tours and sometimes even this amount would not be enough.  Shirts were lost by the hundred.  The fans would take everything they could.  David's pair of Peruvian wedding bands, which he wore on his wrists, were often taken from him, but when fans realised their significance, they were returned.   Then they disappeared permanently, and David got copies made of them from mine.   No-one worked harder on the road than David.  Off stage he was still the leader, the hub of industry around him.  On stage he was the perfectionist in everything he did.  Every song he performed required utmost precision and concentration from him.  He would lose about 2lbs in weight for every stage performance he made and at the end of the tour he would look emaciated. I cooked nutritious meals for him to regain his energy and proper weight which was around 145 lbs. He would hardly get fit again before he was starting a fresh tour. He and the band could always count on another pattern of bizarre experiences - as I found out when I flew out to join them in Japan.  In Tokyo the fans erupted with hysteria and invaded the stage...I saw how badly the kids were crushed beneath the broken seats...I weighed through the crowd and grabbed hold of Tony Zenatta and Leee Black Childers to come with me [and help].   Our appearance caused a riot amongst the Japanese security men.  They thought we were "heavies."  A melee ensued and I was eventually led to safety by Stuey, David's personal bodyguard" - Angela Bowie Free Spirit (1981)

Was there anything planned for the Ziggy Stardust presentation/concerts that never happened and you regret never happened?

Funny you should ask that question. Yes, as a matter of fact there was one plan that was never implemented which I regret. After the fan club was up and operational, I designed the first newsletter, which was inserted into the album, and then I started to think and came up with a great idea. We’d charter a plane and take the fans that could afford to go to New York for Madison Square Gardens show. I planned everything but at the end, DeFries said there wasn’t going to be a way to pull it off. I guess he was having trouble extracting funds from RCA. I still regret not having been able to share the Madison Square Gardens experience with all the original Ziggy fans.

Did you know that Boy George was recently quoted as saying that as a youngster he and friends were thrilled to be told to "Fuck-off" by you when they camped as fans outside of Haddon Hall?

"The first time I saw DAVID BOWIE performing was on THE OLD GREY WHISTLE TEST, on TV. Everything changed, and that was basically the end of normality for me. I was obsessive about BOWIE. I saw my first ZIGGY STARDUST concert when I was 13 at the Lewisham Odeon - ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS - and followed him to every concert hall and radio gig. Saturdays and Sundays, and sometimes after school, I'd go to Beckenham on the bus and just stand outside his house and hang out with all the other fans. We'd talk about him nonstop, about his latest records. latest outfits, his boots, his hair. One day we were being quite noisy outside his home, and his wife, Angie, opened the window and shouted: 'Will you all fuck off!' It was the highlight of our year; we were all quite chuffed to be acknowledged." - Boy George

I was amazed to read the Boy George quote and embarrassed that the best thing I could think of to say then was "Fuck-off!"

What’s your best memory of the time?

My best memory of the time was a dinner party at Haddon Hall with Lionel Bart and Brian the puppet man and many other lovely people - Dana [Gillespie] and David and the boys playing mixes from Ziggy Stardust. Lionel proclaimed it a rock opera and David’s stunned and delighted face as he absorbed the consequences of the compliment.

Your worst memory of the time?

Feeling unnecessary and I felt that a lot as the band gathered speed and started to take off. There was always the question of whether I was going to go with them on tour or whether I should stay and pursue my acting. Every time I would opt for that; something would come up and I would have to leave and go somewhere to troubleshoot. I didn’t want to go but I knew if I allowed that much space between the artistic and the office, the office would lose and be unable to service the artist. Going on tour predicated that I would be humiliated at least 4 or 5 times sometimes in private sometimes in public by groupies and compromising situations so you can understand why I was not that keen to go to every show.

Did you know about David’s retirement announcement at Hammersmith Odeon?

No, not really. I think he said he was going to take a break from touring just before he went on stage and I said "Splendid!" But he didn’t spell it out and I was fighting tooth and nail to keep the lines of communication open between what was going on at Gunter Grove, the Mainman office and at Regent St. Gem management. Tony DeFries had the hump after the boys asked for more money while touring the States (see Backstage Passes for all the details on this one. It’s too long to go into in an interview) once they had had a chance to talk to American musicians and figure out what the going rate for touring musicians was.

Angie Bowie signing autographs at Hammersmith Odeon (3 July 1973)

Do you like the movie - Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture?

Getting the movie made, paid for was more interesting to me than whether I liked the movie or not. Selectavision at RCA finally agreed to pay for Pennebaker and the film to be made. RCA Records had refused to pay for the feature. When I was in New York DeFries and David and I talked about the research division that we had been cultivating by going up to the pressing plant and playing for the employees, I said it was time to cash in on that and maybe they’d spring for the funds. Tony DeFries very cleverly arranged it thusly.

"Paris Collection, 1973"
from Free Spirit (1981) Photo by Terry O'Neill

Who were the women shown in the movie helping Bowie change costumes?

I think Suzy Fussey was one of them - she was our wardrobe mistress and hairdresser.  I can’t remember who the other one was.

Continued on next page

---This page last modified: 19 Jan 2007---

Ziggy Stardust Scarf (1973)