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Spider from Mars: My Life with Bowie
Published January 3rd 2017 by St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 1250117615 (ISBN13: 9781250117618)
Edition Language: English
FROM THE BLURB:
Drummer Woody Woodmansey is the last surviving member of Bowie’s band The Spiders from Mars which helped launch his Ziggy Stardust persona and made David Bowie a sensation. In this first memoir to follow Bowie’s passing, Spider from Mars reveals what it was like to be at the white-hot center of a star’s self-creation. With never-before-told stories and never-before-seen photographs, Woodmansey offers details of the album sessions for The Man Who Sold the World, Hunky Dory, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and Aladdin Sane: the four albums that made Bowie a cult figure. And, as fame beckoned by eventually consumed Bowie, Woodmansey recalls the wild tours, eccentric characters, and rock ‘n’ roll excess that eventually drove the band apart.
A vivid and unique evocation of a transformative musical era and the enigmatic, visionary musician at the center of it, with a foreword by legendary music producer Tony Visconti and an afterword from Def Leppard's Joe Elliot, Spider from Mars is for everyone who values David Bowie, by one of the people who knew him best.
My ranking: 3.5 rock stars
If you are looking for a book about Bowie, better find another book. This is about the drummer until 1973.
This are the memoirs of Mick 'Woody' Woodmansey, from childhood to 2016. Is the story about a musician from Yorkshire (Driffield) , who knew and knows all the musical scene of UK - since the 60s and the following times. About his love for R&B, for the rock, and all what happen in those times for a post-war child who wants to rebel and follow the pipe dream.
And , oh yeah, he knew Mick Ronson from their time playing for The Rats (1969), and he recommended him to some fellow named Bowie for his band called The Hype.
Woody did not even like Bowie's music, but he decided to go to London thinking he might regret it after he did not. At the time, Woody took his job with Bowie with a grain of salt, leaving behind a job as a foreman who could leave him insured for life, or thought so at the time, for the possibility of becoming a rock star.
It might be difficult to imagine now, but in early 1970 Bowie seemed like a one-hit wonder. His single ‘Space Oddity’, which got to Number 5 in the charts, had come and gone, and the follow-up, ‘The Prettiest Star’, had flopped.
[...] I’d been listening to bands such as Led Zeppelin and Cream over the previous couple of years; Bowie’s influences were obviously completely different. My friends wouldn’t even know who Bowie was if I asked them about him.
There are anecdotes of these beginnings and of his astonishment faced with several things like the gay clubs and the use of strong drugs. Also of the drag tendencies of Bowie.
A lot of attention was focused on the cover, which featured Bowie in a dress made for him by the fashion designer Michael Fish. I remember him coming downstairs in that dress one day at Haddon Hall, and telling me that he had a photo shoot. I was a little surprised, because I was still fairly new to Bowie’s ideas. A man wearing a dress just wasn’t normal, as I saw it back then, so I asked myself if he was serious. But when I realized that he was, I adjusted my expectations and started to try and appreciate what he was doing. I was definitely changing as time passed …
And of course, he talks about the sound, the gigs and jam ,
All the enthusiasm for life that the sixties bands had had, and all their messages about how good life was going to be for a new, enlightened generation, had vanished by 1971. That’s how we saw it anyway.
There was a period when it did look possible that my generation – the first kids after the war, who wanted nothing to do with what had come before – would change the world for the better. Drugs clouded that impulse to improve the world, though, among other things.
All this without signed contracts of the band. And about records and the gift of Bowie.
What impressed me so much was all this musical ability was just the tip of Bowie’s talent. There was so much else going on there, and it all tied together in a way that hadn’t been completely obvious the first time I saw it.
Some day-a-day stuff, and discutions about wardrobe.
Later is the famous Ziggy times. The extravaganza , the good times with the Spiders , the weird fashion, tourings and so... And the fallout - he was sacked after Hammersmith last show of Ziggy (1973).
And his times with others bands, his frienship with great musicians, playing for Art Garfunkel. Family. Creation of other bands. And , finally, Tony Visconti joining him for touring The Man Who Sold the World album with Holy Holy.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mick Woodmansey joined Bowie's backing group The Hype, which later became The Spiders from Mars. He played on Bowie's albums The Man Who Sold the World (1970), Hunky Dory (1971), The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972) and Aladdin Sane (1973).
Woodmansey was replaced in The Spiders from Mars by Aynsley Dunbar, who played on Bowie's next album, the 1973 covers album Pin Ups
Born in Driffield, Yorkshire, in 1951, he is the last surviving member of The Spiders from Mars. He continues to play with his band Holy Holy and lives in London.