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A Fallen Star: hands off our heroes, Establishment!

I spent yesterday driving from southern to northern France on my way to Germany, flitting between the radio stations of the two countries, listening to all that was said about that newly fallen star, David Bowie.

Behind all his creative antics that thrilled us so much, pushing the boundaries of art and rock and roll, what a nice guy! I am so sad he’s gone, because we need elders such as these. I am shaken by mortality: in 1969, 69 seemed old; now it seems young.

But then I get utterly furious. How dare the likes of Cameron sing his praises! Shut up, please!

There is nothing in Bowie’s oeuvre that supports the Wounded Leader agenda. Nothing! These people should really leave those kind of people alone. Most of art, when it works, is against the Establishment. Don’t they realise this?

Charles Dickens, Salvador Dali, Andy Worhol, Vincent Van Gogh, Ken Kesey, Goerge Orwell, Bob Dylan, Ronnie Laing, David Bowie, Oliver Stone  … sure they wanted fame, but their whole raison d’être was against convention. They wanted to change things.

Don’t you dare say you like them, Cameron and co.! Keep your grimy hands off!

I am still angry. Sorry.

I do not want to know whether George Osborne likes the music I like. I cannot reconcile myself to these people liking the Doors, the Pretty Things, the Yardbirds, Taj Mahal, Ry Cooder, Stevie, Wonder, Eric Bibb, or even the Stranglers or the Sex Pistols. These people’s music is against anything those people stand for. Don’t they get it? If the corporate worlds hadn’t got to them, they wouldn’t even have heard of them. To like this music, Wounded Leaders have to dissociate from everything it is about: the words, the music, the beat that is in the heart and the genitals, not the head.

Lets make a deal: you guys can have Gilbert and Sullivan, the Eagles and Benjamin Britten. Leave me the rest.

Rock and roll has its roots in the music of West African slaves, disenfranchised Highlanders and Irish paupers, all who were forced to become immigrants by the powers of the day. They put their aching souls and their rhythmic loins that refused to die into this music. It is especially not about being in the Establishment.

Leave our Heroes alone please, and we’ll not go round singing the praises of Lord Nelson – OK, deal?


  1. I knew Bowie in 1965/66 Nick. Before I started writing for the music papers I was on the advertisement side, and at that time I was working for Disc and Music Echo, IPC’s sister paper to Melody Maker. I had an expense account and could take anyone in the industry to lunch at the best restaurants in London. I knew Bowie’s then manager Ralph Horton and when David’s new single came out (it might have been “London Boys”) I suggested Ralph give it a push by taking an ad in the paper, next to our Top 30 chart. I suggested we have lunch to talk about it. I booked at Gennaro’s, a posh Italian in Soho (long since pulled down)and Ralph turned up with the act in tow looking very much the young mod. He was a lovely guy, very intelligent and personable and said that Anthony Newley was his big influence (another outsider, you might say). I used to go down to see him at a half-full Marquee where his live material was all soul (something that most of us grew up with and which of course surfaced on “Young Americans” years later). Then I lost touch but followed his career with interest, and when I crossed over and started writing for the magazines “Hunky Dory” was one of the first albums I got to review. I’ve heard all this Tory pop claptrap before when the Major cabinet revealed that they spent time trying to decipher Grateful Dead lyrics. Somehow I couldn’t imagine them, even at college, tripping out on psychedelics to “Dark Star”.

    Comment by David Redshaw on 12/01/2016 at 9:14 pm
  2. A lovely story, thanks David!

    Comment by Nick Duffell on 12/01/2016 at 10:51 pm
  3. I too find myself similarly furious at the pols for claiming cool by attaching themselves to cultural icons to which they beat no resemblance.

    This kind of weird coopting of popular culture shows up in the US as well (of course), most bizarrely with ultra conservative Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan claiming to be a big fan of the leftist revolutionary rap metal band, Rage Against the Machine. In addition, rich, white, college fraternity members have been big fans of gangster rap for so long it has become a cliche.

    Comment by Andy Forbes on 13/01/2016 at 9:16 pm
  4. Like the bit about Gilbert and sullivan, the Eagles and Benjamin Britten.

    That’s quite a trio

    Comment by Henry Lawson on 25/01/2016 at 6:12 pm
  5. This is known case about David Bowie when he allowed to sing his Space Oddity in the space without any royalty for a year. So does this performing actually legal?

    Comment by FRM on 03/02/2016 at 5:40 pm
  6. @FRM: Most likely, Bowie was thrilled by the idea of Space Oddity being performed in space, so he didn’t mind. And it’s a great cover (if this is what you mean):

    Comment by Dusty Ayres on 12/02/2016 at 6:10 am
  7. I think one of the hardest things the ruling elite have had to come to terms with since the sixties, is that culture went tits up after world war 2, and today, no one wants to emulate them, or thankfully their absurd Queens English accent. Today it’s all torn jeans & leather jacket. Triumph of the chavs you might say. Like the military, I’ve always believed the private school system is just another state within a state. I refer of course to the military resistant to recruiting gays, and the right of independent schools not to ban corporal punishment, when it was abolished in the state sector. I believe demography will have final say, as the younger generation, more tolerant and egalitarian than their elders, will put an end to a bunch of dysfunctional men/boys running the country for their own aggrandizement.

    Comment by Sean. D. Bell. on 03/04/2016 at 5:55 pm

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