On this day, June 1st, 51 years ago, David Bowie released his first eponymous album. Obviously, we were oblivious to this at the time. The BBC Light Programme would never play it, maybe one of the pirate stations did, and David Bowie never really came to prominence until Space Oddity in 1969, two years later.
Nobody could have predicted that the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, released on exactly the same day, would have achieved so much more publicity and airplay!
I first heard the David Bowie album in 1973 and thought it was OK, actually. The songs are simple, cute and sometimes very funny.
Once when I went home for the weekend from university, a singer in a local pub covered Uncle Arthur, and I’m sure my Mum and Dad didn’t believe that this was an early David Bowie song.
I think my favourite song is ‘When I Live My Dream’. I used parts of it when I was courting Sarah. And I emailed the lyrics to Liesel when I was wooing her. When we watched the film A Life Aquatic, I was delighted to hear Seu Jorge’s Portuguese version. That was great. I was, however, miffed when, a few years ago, London Heathrow Airport used it in an advert to celebrate its 50th anniversary. No! Sacrilege!
Today is the 68th birthday of top singer/songwriter Tom Robinson. On this day, eight years ago, Liesel and I saw him and his band in concert at Shepherds Bush Empire. The gig, celebrating his 60th birthday, was titled ‘Glad to be Grey’, a fantastic pun on one of his best-known songs, ‘Glad to be Gay’.
He sang a medley of his greatest hit, ‘2-4-6-8 Motorway’ as he had done when he performed at my 50th birthday party, some years earlier. Yes, my very good friend Tom was good enough to visit Chessington and entertain us for an evening. Top bloke! I’d first met him at a writing retreat in 2002. This was less than a year after Sarah had died and I was still feeling very fragile. He was incredibly helpful and supportive and the group from that weekend kept in touch for many years afterwards. In fact, we met up with Marko beforehand for a quick drink. Cheers!
(I know what you’re thinking. ‘Hey Mick, you’re writing this nonsense 16 years after attending a writing workshop? You should ask for your money back, mate!’)
The gig took place during a campaign to save BBC 6 Music, our favourite music radio station, from being closed down. Tom was and is a presenter and several other presenters turned up to wish him a happy birthday with a cake designed to look like the 6 Music logo, which itself resembles a record player.
Other guest musicians include Toumani Diabaté on the kora (don’t tell Tom, but I could have listened to Toumani’s kora all night) and Nitin Sawhney.
Overall, a fabulous night. And happy 68th, Tom, possibly greyer and gladder.
So, to summarise: David Bowie, the Beatles and Tom Robinson are amongst my favourite artistes of all time. And BBC 6 Music is still a favourite radio station.