This transcript records the short interview with David Bowie discussing his personal style, family and his personality.
Interviewer: Welcome, nice to see you.
David: Thank you.
Interviewer: So, you got a lot of explaining to do.
Interviewer: I always feel I should interview like that character Peter Cook does, you know? What is all this prancing about the stage in trappings and all of that? But you don’t have the trappings you had in the past, you’re a little more conventional.
David: Yeah, at this moment.
Interviewer: What happened?
David: We did the diamond ticket from New York to Los Angeles and I felt that that was enough really rather than come back with the same thing. I wanted to give myself an opportunity just to work with the band.
Interviewer: So, a lot of the glitter is gone we associate with you and you’ve got an entirely new person there. It was only glitz to yesteryear, something like that. Is the offstage Bowie likely to surprise people? I had the weirdest reactions from people know you’re going to be on. Some are going to see the be scared to sit and talk with you. Some people said you would bite my neck. It’s a very peculiar kind of thing.
David: Which is what you want really, isn’t it? And what do you think I’m like?
Interviewer: Well I’ve only met you on the phone and a little bit backstage to me you seemed like- I hope this doesn’t insult you- a working actor.
David: That’s flattering, it’s very good.
Interviewer: I mean, what are you drawing?
David: The flair of music.
Interviewer: Some people thought, there’s a lady who said “I don’t know if I want to meet him, he would make me very nervous. I have a feeling he’s into black magic and that sort of thing.” And other people see you as a very skilful performer changes from time to time from one thing to another.
David: Yeah. We both know that recently.
Interviewer: All of the above?
David: I am a person of diverse interest. I’m not really very academic but I ‘glit’ from one thing to another a lot.
David: It’s like flip but it’s the 70s version.
Interviewer: One letter later in the alphabet. This is an incredible picture, it’s very striking the first time you see it.
Interviewer: I remember the first time this album appeared in a record store window and I could see it’s actually stopping traffic on the sidewalk. This is the picture you sent to the draft board obviously.
David: I just got that in English.
Interviewer: How did that come about; that whole idea and that very painting?
David: Let me see. Well, it’s an artist from Belgium called Guy Peellaert who did a book called “Rock Dreams”. Yeah then well I didn’t ‘nicked’ the book but I saw the book at Mick Jagger’s house and I ‘nicked’ the idea of doing a cover.
Interviewer: What is nicked it mean?
David: Oh stolen.
Interviewer: Stolen. Does this make you nervous to sit without your band and with everything and just to chat a little bit?
David: I will as Carol to ask me that. Otherwise, I won’t you see I’d rather not know if this I know this or not.
Interviewer: I will worry about that.
Interviewer: Where’s the kick for you David in performance when you’re on stage?
David: That’s it, complete, really.
Interviewer: Being there?
Interviewer: The entrance, I can imagine that it would be a very exciting profession. I mean this done there, there are people in the world never stood on the stage. Those of us have forgotten, I mean, to stand on a giant stage like that without a band behind you. At rehearsal today, I stood in for you mean in the feeling of standing there with that sound coming behind you is very exhilarating.
David: I have an incredible feeling and I got a lot of fulfillment from working in productions like Diamond Dogs on music in starburst but it was one of putting together lots of bits and pieces and loose ends and directing the whole thing and remembering a thousand things at once. So that was one kind of fulfillment for now that I’m working with abundant singing which is something that I haven’t gone for years, just standing and singing my songs, I’m finding a new kind of fulfillment. I’ll go back to doing productions.
Interviewer: You will?
David: Oh yeah, I just wanted to go out and sing my songs as a singer, songwriter for a bit.
Interviewer: We have to take a break right now for messages will be back, back, back stay with us.
Interviewer: David, what kind of student were you in school?
David: As a student not very academic. I suppose I was considered ‘arty’.
Interviewer: Did you go through college or to college?
David: Yeah, I went to a technical college near London. They had an Art course for people from 12 upwards who couldn’t do anything else like Maths or Physics. So I took Art.
Interviewer: Art? Do you know the Jagger studied Economics?
Interviewer: And I mentioned that once when he was on some of his fans were disappointed to hear that he went to the London school of economics and it ties into something you said in an interview you did with William Burroughs which I felt was interesting if it in fact true.
David: Oh, don’t believe it.
Interviewer: Well everything ties in with something else you said which is, “Don’t ask me any questions because I’ll say something different every time”. But taking a chance here, taking a stab in the light. You said that the lives of the rock stars are really not as strange as the lives of the fans. It’s an interesting point that the fans sort of envy the stars but in effect to the stars live more conventional lives and envy the fans. It strikes me as odd that idea that, you know, fans are out shoving nutmeg under the cuticles or something and trying to be really freaky and you and Jagger are sitting around passing economics before onchilus and the venti lux nations or something. Am I exaggerating this?
David: No, he speaks economics and I don’t understand him.
Interviewer: But if this in fact true? What is your private life like without being too personal?
David: Can I take this off? It’s ever so hot.
Interviewer: Oh yeah, do that.
David: Thank you, alright. Really what I meant is that when I first started I could get out. and about a bit and I used to go to clubs and dance and you know that was quite easy and I sorted out what I wanted to wear and what I wanted to do. Later on when things became slightly cocooned.
Interviewer: Slightly what?
David: Cocooned- I was kind of, you know, in there somewhere. I found that I was seeing what everybody else was wearing when they used to come to the shows I felt kind of out of it a bit. So, it turns out that I kind of get influenced by people come to see me. I mean the cane, you see. I mean I saw a person with a cane once but then somebody started bringing them to the gigs I really like so I started using them. It wasn’t me it wasn’t me, he was them.
Interviewer: You been influenced by your audience in your style?
David: Yeah, I think you are a lot.
Interviewer: How do you dream up your latest manifestation, you know what I mean? Do you…
David: Which one particularly?
Interviewer: In any case. Do you get a sketch pad? Do you work from your own dreams? Do you have visions?
David: No, travel I’m in a very lucky position of not wanting to fly so I take a ship or a train or something.
Interviewer: You won’t fly?
Interviewer: I ready to the Trans -Siberian Railway somewhere to get.
David: Yeah that’s one of the things
Interviewer: Yeah, it was right through Russia from Nakhodka through to Moscow and from Moscow to Warsaw, East Berlin and jumped off there threatened to send back to Moscow.
Interviewer: Why won’t you fly?
David: It scares me.
Interviewer: You’re afraid the plane will come down where it wasn’t supposed to.
David: I don’t like the feeling of going up at that speed. It always feels like something running very fast and then like going to the edge of a cliff and then jumping an opening to get to the other side.
Interviewer: I like that.
David: Well it should be like if it just goes up like that; like a saucer.
Interviewer: Why do rock stars tend to have premonitions of doom? It seems to be a theme in their work and in their lives.
David: Oh, because they’re pretty nutty to be doing it the first place anyway.
Interviewer: Do you know what it is?
David: Yeah. They’ve got the very tangled mind, very messed up people.
Interviewer: Do you ever try to picture yourself at 60?
Interviewer: Somebody said that idea for a reunion of the Beatles in their 70s as they come tattering out onto the stage. Someone holds the guitar in front of them while they pluck it in their 80’s. This is a rather personal question but is that your real hair color?
David: Of course, it isn’t.
Interviewer: I know the answer to that.
David: I’m a blonde, I am a blonde, I’m a blonde.
Interviewer: When you walk around New York and a hard hat says, “Hey sweetheart”.
David: I drive around New York.
Interviewer: My mistake. Good idea. What do your parents do for a living?
David: My father is dead and my mother has a small flat and I think she’s got a day job.
Interviewer: Does she have trouble explaining you to the neighbors who say are you any relation to that?
David: Oh, I think she pretends that I’m not hers. No, she doesn’t talk much, you know. I don’t think we’re really… We were never that close, particularly. We have an understanding.
Interviewer: Yeah. It’s not sure that your real name is Menemsious Spiegel Gas is it?
Interviewer: Is it really? You didn’t want that revealed?
David: I was waiting for you to reveal it.
Interviewer: Well I’m sorry if you didn’t want that out but what is black noise?
David: Black noise? Black noise is something that borrows got very interested in. Now the one facet black noise is everything like a glass if you’re not pressing your hits a particular note. The vibrations are out of the metabolism of the glass and cracks it, yeah? So, a black noise is the register within which you can crack a city for people. Or it’s a new control bomb, it’s a noise bomb in fact, which can destroy. Why do you ask that?
Interviewer: Is it a real thing? Is it something that being experimenting with?
David: Oh, it is it was invented in France.
Interviewer: Could a tyrant use it too?
David: Well, until last year you could buy the patent for in the French patent office for about the equivalent of three, four dollars.
Interviewer: And it would wipe out, it’s concentrated to where?
David: It depends on how much money you put into it. I mean a small one could probably kill about half the people here but it’s a big one could destroy a city or even more.
Interviewer: This is a weird idea.
David: Don’t look at me; it’s not my idea.
Interviewer: Let’s not give the instructions how to do it. Can you recommend a good book to your fans? A good book?
David: Apart from yours?
Interviewer: Oh, do I have a book out?
David: Yeah. Oh no I walked into that.
Interviewer: I wondered if… The last thing I read you said that Kerouac was important to you but that’s a long time back.
David: Well, I didn’t say I was reading Machiavelli.
Interviewer: You’re reading Machiavelli?
Interviewer: What can we find on your coffee table in your apartment?
David: At the moment mainly pictures. I brought down Diane Harvest book of photographs that I like very much.
Interviewer: Can I ever do a walk-on in your show? I’ve got to know what it feels like to stand ion stage during a big production thing like but I’d screw up your….
David: If I had a part for you, yeah.
Interviewer: Maybe if I would have bring out a cup of tea and a good book.
David: If it is your book.
Interviewer: I forgot about that. You do mime…
David: Don’t ask me about my book.
Interviewer: You have a book?
David: Well, funnily enough.
Interviewer: A book coming?
David: Yes, I’m writing a novel.
Interviewer: You are?
David: Yeah. Based on the Trans Siberian Express.
Interviewer: Oh, really?
David: Actually now you can ask me the next one.
Interviewer: I’m glad to know that. How do you say your wife’s name. I’ve seen it printed Angels and Angela; which is the typo?
David: Angela, Angie.
Interviewer: Her real name is Angie?
David: Mmm’mm. It’s Angie.
Interviewer: Is she a model?
David: Is she a what?
Interviewer: Is she a model or an actress or…? I’ve seen one very attractive picture of her.
David: No. She is an intellectual that went to school in Switzerland and has a vast capacity for knowledge and runs around and has theses on everything.
Interviewer: And how do you say your son’s name?
Interviewer: Your son’s name is Zowie Bowie?
Interviewer: Is it true that Frank Zappa has a child named Moon Unit?
Interviewer: Can you imagine? Growing up, kids in a tough neighbourhood, “Hey, Moon Unit!” Do we have a message? We will take a break here; we’ll be right back.
Interviewer: So you know somewhere someone is writing a learned paper in a university called somethong like ‘Jagger and Bowie- Prophets of a Plurialistic Society and Prophets of Doom’. Do you read this stuff? You see critics write very elaborate, intellectual analysis of your work and other people’,. Does this put you to sleep?
David: Um, the bad ones; I always read the good ones.
Interviewer: Yeah. Do you want to be understood, you kow what I mean? Ziggy started with concern with famine in the world and so on and prophesies and the worl running out of food and…
David: There’s absolutely nothing to understand. I mean, that’s ….Oh, dear. I mean, I’m a storyteller and a story writer and I decided that I preferred to enact a lot of the material that I was writing rather than performing it. At this moment I am performing it myself but I will continue in the future after I’ve done what I wish to do at the moment which is returt back to writing stories and I will enact them again. I don’t care what anybody says; I like doing it and its what I shall continue to.
Interviewer: Oh, I’m not stopping you.
David: Nothing that I do is on any kind of intellectual slant.
Interviewer: You get (14:39)
David: No, it’s just….
Interviewer: Can you do anything about them ripping London apart? I’ve been there about seven times. We talked about this the other night and you told me the appalling news that they tore down Whistler’s house – the artist. Buckingham Palace the McDonalds stand yet I can’t believe what they’ve done. You have a lot of influence
David: Not since I bought it.
Interviewer: I was going to say that you have influence and money. Cant you get some other artists to do something?
David: Nobody has any influence. Everything has been sectioned off into separate pieces of property. And no doubt not that the Socialist government is nationalized or is going to be nationalized on the ground, more of it will come down and …. I don’t know. I haven’t made any decisions on it because there are other families that need houses. As much as I like a lot of the architecture. You know, I don’t know. Don’t ask me about politics; what do I know?
Interviewer: Did I say politics?
David: But that’s what it will become becaue it’s so deep. It’s all politics.
Interviewer: Yes, I see.
David: Motivation of finance and its politics, isn’t it?
Interviewer: Well, why don’t we take a break; we’ll be right back. Thank you for coming this morning.
David: It’s been a pleasure.