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David Bowie, the truth

By music editor Nicky Liar

Posted July 30, 2015
david bowie and his love of traction engines
Ch-ch-ch-traction engines: Bowie owes it all to Liar. Fact. (Check bottom for credits)

Nicky Liar blows the lid on the real David Bowie.

I met David Bowie in early '67 at a traction engine rally in Pickering, North Yorkshire.

He was still Davie Jones at that time and a member of the group Riot Squad.

He was clearly confused and trying to find himself when I first saw him licking the rear tyre on a Massey Ferguson 35X.

Even in those days he was gathering a crowd, but sadly for the wrong reasons.

I took him for a mug of Bovril and a sit down and we discussed our shared love of tractors and farm implements in general.

david bowie is very fond of tractors
Ere! Massey Fersugon: One of Bowie's favourites. (Check bottom for credits)

As it turned out, this meeting was to have a gargantuan impact on Bowie's career and his meteoric rise to superstardom.

Although never credited or even mentioned in the history of David Bowie, I am content in knowing I had an influence.

I suggested a name change as people were confusing him with Davy Jones from the Monkees.

"What about Piggy Corndust?" I said.

David spat hot Bovril all over my wellingtons and started to laugh uncontrollably.

I didn't know whether to be offended or pleased.

Thinking back to the tyre-licking incident, I realised there may have been some substances involved so I let it pass.

My suspicions were confirmed later on when David asked if I'd like to "toke on his fatty".

Luckily, he then produced an expertly rolled joint, which wiped the shocked look from my face.

We wandered round, taking in the sights and sounds, stopping briefly to finger a magnificent looking AJ International Rotovator and Seed Drill.

Little did I know at the time, David was gathering ideas for songs, although we did discuss an idea about a five-year farming almanac set to music called Five Years.

It was meant to contain useful information on crop rotation, inter-planting and how to avoid carrot fly.

However, David was in a morbid phase and chose to ruin the song by making it about the last five years on earth.

Alas, looking at the lyrics I can see where his inspiration sprang from:

     Pushing through the market square, [Farmers market section of the rally.]
     So many mothers sighing. [They'd sold out of Jersey Royals.]
     News had just come over, [Over the Tannoy.]
     We had five years left to cry in. [The market was closing so there was five
     minutes left to buy in.]
     And it was cold and it rained so I felt like an actor. [Felt like a tractor
     more like.]

david bowie also likes doves
Doving the alien: The inspiration behind Soul Love. (Check bottom for credits)

Similarly, the chorus to the track Soul Love takes me back to an incident with a stall holder.

David was adamant he wanted to buy a dove but the seller wouldn't let David touch it until he showed him the money.

     Inspirations have I none, [I'm not going to hurt it.]
     Just to touch the flaming dove. [He just wanted to touch the flaming thing.]
     All I have is my love of love [I love all creatures.]
     And love is not loving. [I'm not feeling the love back.]

I sympathised with David over the dove incident; I just think the stallholder took a dislike to him because of all the makeup he was wearing.

David calmed down after rolling another herbal cigarette, which he dragged down like a vacuum cleaner.

He quickly became paranoid and kept shouting about an electric eye being on him and someone putting a ray gun to his head.

David was becoming a real handful so I thought about getting him home before he freaked out any more.

There was clearly a reference to this in the track Moonage Daydream:

     Keep your 'lectric eye on me, babe.
     Put your ray gun to my head.
     Press your space face close to mine, love.
     Freak out in a moonage daydream, oh yeah!

david bowie adored his Austin Morris 1100
Is there life on cars? Bowie slumped by his Austin Morris 1100. (Check bottom for credits)

David said he was proper hungry and had something he called 'the munchies' so we bought all the burgers and hot dogs left on a stand that was packing up.

I suggested that we get a bus to my place so he could have a rest but David insisted on driving his Austin Morris 1100.

I had a sense of foreboding about this but didn't want to leave him in the state he was in.

Inevitably, we were pulled over by the local constabulary and David being David started rambling on about a 'starman'.

David was charged for public order offences and I put up surety, guaranteeing he would be in court on the following Monday morning.

I must confess, I was one of many people stifling laughter when the policeman read out David's statement in the County Court with a broad Yorkshire accent:

     There's a starman waiting in the sky.
     He'd like to come and meet us
     But he thinks he'd blow our minds.
     There's a starman waiting in the sky.
     He's told us not to blow it
     'Cause he knows it's all worthwhile.
     He told me:
     Let the children lose it,
     Let the children use it,
     Let all the children boogie,
     Your Honour.

The three magistrates were not as amused but luckily David was only bound over to keep the peace for six months.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Chief hack's note: Personally, as a longstanding Bowie fan (he's one of the very few big-name-mainstream-radio-play types I actually like), I was shocked and appalled by Liar's revelations. Fortunately, though, there's always Kraftwerk and the Beach Boys to fall back upon if you think you'll never be able to play Diamond Dogs (tractor cogs) again.

See also Prince's purple plums, posted 3/2/15.

Nicky Liar
is the inventor of the app Map My Turd, a fun game for all the family. Each family member swallows a small transmitter and waits for nature to do its business. Over the coming weeks and months you can then track the whereabouts of your turd. Nicky's is currently bobbing around in the South China Sea just off the west coast of the Philippines. Fact.

Picture credits

Top and thumb: Illustration by Ignatius Rake using public domain pictures and images by Rik Walton and derek dye.

Second: Illustration by Ignatius Rake using public domain pictures and images by Rik Walton and unknown.

Third: Illustration by Ignatius Rake using public domain pictures and images by Rik Walton and Dr Neil Clifton.

Bottom: Illustration by Ignatius Rake using public domain pictures and images by Rik Walton and Sicnag.

For licensing information click the above links.

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