David Bowie is one of those rare musicians that needs no real introduction. Much like with The Beatles and Bob Dylan, his reputation precedes him. One of the most influential musicians of all time, Bowie’s influence can still be seen alive and well today across the broad spectrum of culture.
Musically, Bowie had a vast impact on the proliferation of alternative rock, with bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam citing him as an influence. Not stopping there, the Starman’s impact stretches into avant-garde, electronic and ethereal pop in the shape of Kate Bush and Björk. It’s indicative of the eclectic nature of his back catalogue that Bowie managed to inspire a whole host of musicians from varying genres.
However, it’s not just in the musical sense that Bowie changed culture, he also helped to change our views on aesthetics, genre and fluidity in general.
During an op-ed in Rolling Stone a few days after Bowie’s death in January 2016, Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell highlighted one way that Bowie’s game-changing artistry galvanised him. Cornell remembered watching the Brixton native perform on a talk show, dressed in “some strange European clown costume”. Understandably, this had a “huge impact” on Cornell as prior to this, he’d only known Bowie as the flame-haired Ziggy Stardust. “Seeing him like this made me think, ‘Oh, you can be whoever you want,” Cornell explained. “You can live a hundred lives. You can create you and you can recreate you, and it’s viable.’ He was the one that proved that that works.”
It was this type of boundary-pushing spirit that thrust Bowie into the hearts of music lovers after the release of his 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Society had never seen or heard anything like it at the time, and from that point on, the world was his own. Afterwards, Bowie led a fabled life that has given us some of the best and worst moments in music history.
One of the most bizarre moments, however, came as part of an October 1973 Floorshow that was filmed at London’s Marquee Club alongside French musician and actress Amanda Lear. It’s unclear what the purpose of this show was, but recently unearthed footage shows the flame-haired Bowie going through lines with Lear, which they keep messing up.
It’s a hilarious portrait of Bowie during his Aladdin Sane period, and his cheeky interactions with Lear reflect just how captivating he always was, with all in the room enthralled.
The lines are utterly bizarre, and Lear asks Bowie: “Who are you?” before he responds with: “Life is too short for questions”. She then asks, “Well what are you? I can see you’re trying to invent something. Who are you?”. Bowie then turns the tables and asks her to explain herself. To which she replies, “I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, because I’m not myself, you see. Anyway, explanations take such a dreadful time.”
As the strange discussion heats up, Lear delivers the line: “Nevermind me, why is your hair so red? Have you ever read Oscar Wilde? Did you ever experience passion? What kind of things do you remember best?”.
A brilliantly puzzling piece of footage, the chemistry between Bowie and Lear is palpable, even if their acting talents are forgettable. Be prepared to be enraptured by this incredibly ’70s moment.
Watch the clip below.