Robin's memories of the late, great David Bowie
Barnham-based singer, songwriter, composer and producer Robin Mayhew looks back on his years with the late, great David Bowie in his new autobiography.
Robin releases the book (available through http://www.robinmayhew.co.uk) in support of his new album Shallow and Deeper. The two may be bought individually or together as a package.
Robin brought the out album, a collection of 12 original songs, earlier this year in Bowie’s memory “in tribute to my old friend’s outstanding contribution to contemporary music and culture.”
Earlier he had also released his own recording of Bowie’s final Ziggy Stardust concert from 1973: “It started selling really well, and the Bowie fans went mad about it. A lot of them were saying you must have some really great stories to tell about Bowie and that I should write them down. Well, I thought it wouldn’t make a whole book. It was only two years, but I thought I should write my autobiography embracing those two years.
“I joined Bowie in late 1971 as his sound man and was responsible for soundengineering all of his Ziggy Stardust concert performances around the world, between January 29 1972 and July 3 1973. I must credit Bowie for musically opening my eyes and influencing my life with his innovation and originality. We worked very closely before and while touring together for 18 months, during which we developed a close working and personal relationship.”
Robin looks back on it all as an exciting, rewarding and formative period in his life which has been a source of inspiration ever since: “David didn’t break rules. He wrote new ones. His intelligence, creativity, innovation and courage effected a huge change in popular culture – change that endures to this very day. He just loved new inventions. If there were any new inventions, he would want to play with them. The video camera was just coming out, and he was fascinated by it. He was always looking for something different, and that was good for me because the PA system I was using was a bit different too – and wonderfully suitable for him.
“He was a very easy man to work with. Everybody played their part; everybody had their job, and we were all just one big team. There was nothing at all prima donna-ish about him. We were just all swept along on the crest of this wave, staying in the Beverly Hills Hotel, living in the lap of luxury, all room service, just young men together, and it was like everyone’s dreams come true.”
It certainly was for Bowie. This was his breakthrough, as Robin recalls: “As I say in the book, the 512 days I worked with him, I saw a man realise his ambition. He had done it.”
All tales told in the book, entitled simply Ambition. After working with Bowie, Robin went on to set up a sound equipment company Ground Control and continued to work with the greats in the business, Lou Reed, Blondie, Mott The Hoople, David Essex, The Stranglers, The Clash etc.
“At the time I worked with Lou Reed there were all the stories about him being a heroin freak, but he was absolutely as straight as a die with me and as fit as a fiddle, and the band that he had was so 70s funk that he would just dance through the whole set. It was just brilliant.”
Robin also harbours happy memories of Mott The Hoople: “Ian Hunter, as it said in the song, had just always wanted to do this. They were great to work with and very appreciative of what we were doing. It was a great time.”
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