Category: glam rock

The New York Dolls

On January 27, 1971, David Bowie arrived in America for the first time…wearing this dress. He was detained by security for over an hour. These photos were taken in LA in February, by John Mendelsohn.

Freddie Mercury, 1974, one of a series of Italian postcards, via ebay, my edit of scan by Lorena Battaglia

Queen: Freddie Mercury and Brian May, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, Budapest, July 27, 1986, via queenphotos.

I was just going to post this without additional commentary (no, I have not been taken over by a pod from outer space), but you know what? You really, really need to see this. Not even the Live Aid performance of this (WHICH I HATE THAT THEY LEFT OUT OF THE MOVIE) gives a hint at how gloriously chaotic “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” could get on stage

So here ya go, from Wembley a couple of weeks earlier than the Budapest photo above, on July 11. Here you’ll see Brian switching between three guitars (you see his black Telecaster above, which he typically used for the first solo), and both him and Freddie actively engaging keyboard player Spike Edney, who’s absolutely wailing on the piano for this. (Spike is still playing with Queen today!)

There’s a camera parked behind Roger, who really doesn’t get enough credit for how hard he pounds drums (as if Bonham is the only one who hits hard or something?), and Deacy’s shorts are so short that he looks like he’s wearing a big t-shirt and nothing else while he POGOS HIS WAY THROUGH. (Check right around 3:30 for several shots of him bouncing clear off the ground.) This ain’t just a rhythm section. Both of these fellas are bringing the pain

This clip cuts in just after Freddie laughs, “Everybody knows I can’t play the fucking guitar,” and opens with his holy invocation, “This is for all you crazy f*****s out there.”

Turn this WAY THE FUCK UP, and soak in it. Amazing stuff.

David Bowie on Soul Train, aired November 4, 1975, where he performed “Golden Years” and “Fame,” Andrew Kent photos, via davidbowie.com

Suzi Quatro posing with a stuffed leopard – 1973
Photo by Jack Kay

David Bowie, Young Americans, fantastic Eric Stephen Jacobs photo from August 30, 1974 (eyebrows not grown back yet), via davidbowiewonderworld

David Bowie, ad for his first US TV appearance, November 16, 1973, via davidbowie.com. (Fantastic Justin de Villeneuve photo of Bowie and Twiggy from the Pin Ups sessions.)

Brian May: Queen in Milwaukee, September 10, 1980, the day that The Game hit #1 in the US (their only #1 album here), by Todd K. Owens, my edit of original via queenlive.ca

David Bowie, “The Jean Genie”, first aired on Top of the Pops January 4, 1973, then lost for nearly 40 years!

The video itself is extraordinary – 100% live, no miming,

drenched in fuzz,

and Bowie capping off the glam jam with a quote from John Lennon’s harmonica solo from “Love Me Do (!!!) – but so’s the saga of the video’s rediscovery in 2011. 

The BBC had taped over the original recording (as they tended to do in those days), and thought it was gone for good. It featured a unique spherical lens (it starts at about 1:30 in) developed by one of the cameramen that day, John Henshall – who, it turns out, had taped Bowie’s performance for himself, as a demo for anyone who might be interested in hiring the lens (and his services) for their own projects. He had no idea that anybody had been looking for it, because it wasn’t lost to him. He’d never mislaid his copy of it!

This really is Bowie at his absolute glammiest, already moving well past Ziggy into something that didn’t really have a name. I know that the 1972 TOTP performance of “Starman” shook a lot of people up, but it struck me as musically quite conservative. Kind of dull, really, apart from some admittedly outré dress-up and posing. 

Not so this, my friend! Even though this version of “The Jean Genie” nods at its roots all the way back in 1963, which already seemed more like a century ago than merely a decade, it’s clearly already a million miles ahead.

And it really is a bit of an extra kick to have the rest of the story here: