Paul Gorman is…

A solid testament: David Bowie A Life by Dylan Jones

Oct 3rd, 2017

In contrast to Unmade Up, Edward Bell’s light-touch but nonetheless deeply personal memoir of David Bowie recently reviewed here, Dylan Jones’ A Life is a weighty, text-heavy tome, with hundreds of contributors packed into its unillustrated 560 pages.

And that’s fine; Jones’ choice of the oral history format maintains the pace as his subject transitions from humble ‘Bromley Dave’ into the superstar whose work continues to beguile and bewitch.

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Touched by the hand of Bowie

Jan 11th, 2016
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//Framed shred of Lucian Freud wallpaper designed by David Bowie for inclusion in the 1995 War Child fashion show Pagan Funwear//

It is of course very sad to note the death of David Bowie; 69 is too young, particularly for such an important figure in the pop cultural landscape with an evident abundance of creative contributions still to make to our lives.

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The story of the Sex shop leather hood: From harmless fetish attire (as sported by David Bowie?) to theatre of cruelty design totem

Jul 14th, 2015

Gorman_03.tifDavid Bowie in Sex Gimp Mask 1974 copy
//Left: Detail of photo of model posing in leather Sex hood, autumn 1974. Photo: © David Parkinson. Right: David Bowie in leather hood, summer 1974, Sherry Netherland Hotel, New York. Photo: Dana Gillespie//

My recent post about David Bowie’s visits in 1974 to 430 King’s Road when it was in its Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die incarnation prompted Facebook friend and DJ Graham “Sugarlump” Evans to alert me to Polaroid photographs of David Bowie trying out make-up, hair and styling options in preparation for his Diamond Dogs tour of the US that year.

David Bowie in Sex Gimp Mask 1974

// Polaroid taken by Dana Gillespie in New York in 1974//

In one, as Evans points out, Bowie posed in a leather hood of similar style to the model sold at 430 as it was transformed over a period of six months from TFTL to fetish emporium Sex.

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Joe Stevens’ best photograph: Tousled Bowie at a moment of transformation

Jan 29th, 2015
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//Just over CSM’s shoulder: David Bowie and a railway guard, Paris, May 3, 1973. Photo (c) Joe Stevens//

“In those minutes, you could see he really was about to become a major pop star.”

In The Guardian today, photographer pal and hero Joe Stevens has picked a favourite image from his six-decade career: a slightly tousled David Bowie and a French railway guard at a Paris station.

According to my copy of Kevin Cann’s definitive Bowie diary Any Day Now this would have been May 3, 1973; Bowie had travelled by train from Japan, on the Trans-Siberian Express through Russia, Poland and Germany in the company of the late NYC legend Leee Black Childers and Bowie’s friend and backing vocalist Geoff MacCormack.

Stevens’ captured Bowie at a moment of transformation; alighting blearily in dress-down mode from the train, the rock star was met by wife Angie and a gaggle of glamorous friends. In a matter of minutes he had changed into the Freddie Buretti-designed outfit seen here and was swept away to a reception and press conference in the Rouge Room of the George V Hotel.

Just in shot – and identifiable by his frizz and shoulder bag strap – is Joe’s NME compadre (and another pal and hero) Charlie Murray.

Read Joe’s reminiscence here.

I am proud to say I edited Kevin Cann’s book Any Day Now: David Bowie The London Years 1947-74. It is a thoroughgoing delight and highly recommended – if you don’t already own it, purchase a copy here.

Charles Shaar Murray wrote a wonderful preface to my music press history In Their Own Write (which he ended with the following note to me: “You bastard. You’ll be hunted down and strangled like a dog for this.”)

Copies of In Their Own Write are available here.

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‘Soho-Italianate’: Gordon Moore’s advert for Vince Man’s Shop in ARK magazine 1957

Aug 24th, 2012


This advert for Vince Man’s Shop – the small Soho boutique which sparked the modernisation of menswear design and retailing in the second half of the 20th century – was designed by Gordon Moore for issue 20 of the Royal College Of Art magazine ARK, published in autumn 1957.

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The mystery of Pierre Laroche’s Breakfast, The Who at Charlton + the tragic demise of Alkasura’s John Lloyd

Mar 22nd, 2012

Pierre's Breakfast, 1974, by Willie Christie.

I am beguiled by this photograph, which is entitled Pierre’s Breakfast and was taken by Willie Christie at David Hockney’s house in Notting Hill on May 18, 1974.

The identities of the two individuals on the left are a mystery*; with Clark (in the white jumpsuit) are make-up artist Pierre Laroche, Marianne Faithfull and Michael Roberts (then writer/photographer at The Sunday Times, now Vanity Fair’s fashion/style director). Behind the group are a selection of artist Mo McDermott’s signature painted wooden tree sculptures.

Laroche, who had worked at Elizabeth Arden for five years before taking up with rock & roll when he was recruited by Brian Duffy for the cover of David Bowie’s 1973 album Aladdin Sane, engaged Willie Christie for the May 74 session for a potential magazine feature.

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Photography: Kate Simon

Feb 18th, 2011

This portrait of David Bowie was taken by Kate Simon at Olympic recording studios in Barnes, west London, on January 14, 1974.

Simon’s photograph captures a man on the cusp; furiously occupied in the studio, Bowie was tying up loose ends ahead of his departure for America 10 weeks later. He hasn’t lived in Britain since.

Three days before this was taken, Bowie’s production job on Lulu’s version of The Man Who Sold The World was released as a single. Applying himself to finishing Diamond Dogs, Bowie also recorded such eventually unreleased tracks as Take It Right (to become Right, a “plastic soul”  anthem on Young Americans) and a try-out of Bruce Springsteen’s Growin’ Up.

Sessions with vocal trio The Astronettes – including paramour Ava Cherry – had proved inconclusive, though an olive branch recently extended to erstwhile producer Tony Visconti soon bore fruit in the form of renewed collaboration.

A month after the shot was taken, Rebel Rebel was released ahead of the marathon US touring schedule over 1974/5 which marked the severing of business relations with Tony Defries and the faltering of his marriage to Angie.

I wanted to talk to Simon about the stories behind this image and others which deliver an emotional charge yet retain the reportage stance of the cool documentarist.

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