Tag Archives: rock ‘n roll

There’s a Starman…

It started off as nothing more than a spin around South London, but by the time we were finished it seemed as though we had been on a pilgrimage. The heavy, slow-moving traffic didn’t intrude, giving us more time to talk about our musical hero whose untimely death had left his millions of fans stunned and heartbroken. David Bowie may have gone to the great gig in the sky and, as we sang along to yet another of his songs, it was with a mixture of pleasure and pain that was both equally uplifting and sad.

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School of Stars

School of Stars

The day was bright and cold and it was my first time in London since Bowie’s passing. My cousin, who lives in Dulwich, had sketched out a route that would take us to some of Bowie’s haunts from his early years. It was a plan that would allow us time to listen to his music and discuss his unique cultural contribution. We had often done this, usually late into the night, but with the great man’s passing it seemed more like a duty and something we just had to do. As he started the car and we moved off he clicked on the music player and the sound of Station To Station. ‘You drive like a demon,’ I said, getting the first laugh of a memorable day.

David Jones was born on 8th January 1947 at 40 Stansfield Road in Brixton where he lived until he was seven when his family moved to Bromley. He went to a local junior school before arriving at Bromley Technical High School for Boys (now Ravens Wood School) in 1958. And it was her under the guidance of teacher Owen Frampton, the Head of the Art Department and father of guitarist Peter, that Bowie’s creative side began. He was a superb dancer and played saxophone with Peter Frampton in a school band called The Little Ravens.

Hunky Dory

Hunky Dory

And it was here in 1962 that he received a punch in the eye from his friend George Underwood, that left him with a frozen pupil. Bowie had taken George’s girlfriend Carol and the unfortunate result gave Bowie a unique look that fitted perfectly with his soon-to-be-famous image. George went on to become very successful in the art trade and was involved in designing the album covers for Hunky Dory and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. My cousin turned up the volume on John, I’m Only Dancing as we passed the old school where rock legends once learned to play.

After leaving school Bowie worked for a time as a commercial artist and continued his musical journey by playing in different bands. One was a group from Margate and they performed as Davy Jones & the Lower Third, but he left after recording a few singles that failed to make an impression. Later he made the first of the many changes that he became famous for when he dropped Jones for Bowie. This was because another Davy Jones, from Manchester, was becoming famous as the lead singer with The Monkess and Bowie did not want to be confused with him.

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Soon we were near Beckenham where Bowie moved to after he left school. And that was when we had to stop because of major roadworks. I would normally be unhappy at sitting in traffic but now was fine as we listened to, in particular order that I remember, Space Oddity, Let’s Dance, The Jean Genie, Suffragette City, Life on Mars, Oh! You Pretty Things, Changes, Starman, Rock n’ Roll Suicide, Rebel Rebel and Diamond Dogs. ‘It’s a magnificent collection of songs,’ I commented, realising that there so many more to follow.
‘I’ve always loved Queen Bitch,’ my cousin said ‘Mick Ronson’s guitar playing was a thing of beauty.’
And who was I to argue!

Bowie outside Haddon Hall

Bowie outside Haddon Hall

In October 1969 Bowie moved into Haddon Hall on Southend Road. He lived in the ground floor apartment and painted the ceiling silver to remind him of the night sky. He married Angie Barnett on the 19th March and the large house (now sadly demolished) soon became home to his band The Spiders from Mars. Bowie loved parties and over the next three years while they lived there it was one of the most popular ‘party houses’ in London. And it was here that most of the Ziggy Stardust music was first heard before it was taken into the recording studio.

Where it all began

Where it all began

Close by is The Three Tuns pub on Beckenham High Street where he had played his first gigs in 1969, and there is a red plaque on the front of the building (it is now a Zizzi restaurant) in his honour. ‘And, a lady called Suzi Fussey, who worked in a hairdressers across the road from the pub, gave him the haircut that was associated with all things Ziggy Stardust,’ my cousin added, slowing the car before briefly heading off to Brixton and the end of our trip.

We walked to the memorial on Tunstall Road, opposite Brixton Underground Station, where a small group of Spanish fans were taking photographs. I took their camera and happily snapped off a few photographs before taking my own shots. The memorial was a spontaneous reaction to Bowie’s death and the local council has now protected the painting and comments behind a sheet of heavy, clear plastic. It works, and as my cousin and I stood there in quiet contemplation one of the Spaniards turned up the sound on his mini player and we smiled and sang together, each one of us knowing that as long as we believe ‘We can be heroes, just for one day’.

Bowie memorial in Brixton

Bowie memorial in Brixton

Words and wishes on Bowie memorial

Words and wishes on Bowie memorial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mike Brookfield – Rock On!

Mike Brookfield - ripping it up!

Mike Brookfield – ripping it up!

Whelans was packed to the rafters (the only way!) for the Mike Brookfield Band’s latest gig that was a real stormer. The band showcased the new album BROOKFIELD, a fantastic mix of blues and rock that had the ‘best little venue in town’ crying for more. If you are a fan of Rory Gallagher or that other maestro Stevie Ray Vaughan then Mike Brookfield will blow you away with his blistering, peerless playing. And if the quieter, but intense, mood of old Slowhand himself (Eric Clapton) is your preferred taste then there is plenty here for you to enjoy. And his rendering of Jimi Hendrix’s classic Crosstown  Traffic was a belter. This is playing of the first order and that word awesome is, in this case, spot on. The three piece band are as tight a drum and showed a confidence and simpatico that was a joy to enjoy!

Are you read-y?

Are you read-y?

Bravo Brookfield!

Let's Play...

Let’s Play…

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Mike Brookfield Band – Rock On!

Mike Brookfield

Mike Brookfield

It may have been windy outside The Hot Spot (Greystones, County Wicklow) the other night, but inside the Mike Brookfield Band were brewing up a storm! The three-piece are on tour, promoting their new album Love Breaks The Fall, and they ripped through a set with  songs from the album and others from, among others, Jimi Hendrix (a great version of Crosstown Traffic) and Bruce Hornsby. If you are a fan of Eric Clapton or Stevie Ray Vaughan then Mike Brookfield’s playing will certainly make you smile and tap your foot. His style is fluent and crisp, slow or fast, and he has all the touches that showcase his wide range of skills.

Bass & Drummer - Rhythm Kings

Bass & Drummer – Rhythm Kings

It’s impressive, as was the rhythm section behind him – the bass and drummer – that drove the music along incessantly. All-in-all it was a top performance from a band who demand attention – and rightly so. Do yourself a favour and check these boys out! Rock on and on…..

Mike Brookfield Band – Love Breaks The Fall

 

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