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  • gilwilson 2:58 PM on January 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: david bowie, drummer, glam rock   

    “Spider from Mars: My Life with Bowie” by Woody Woodmansey 

    29772867Spider from Mars: My Life with Bowie
    by Woody Woodmansey
    320 pages
    Published January 3rd 2017 by St. Martin’s Press

    The radio station I work for gave copies of this book away on the air when it was released and I kept wanting to read the book.  Problem was the promotion happens first and all copies were given away on the air.  So eventually I forgot about the book and it slipped from my mind.  A few months ago we were going through the infamous radio station “prize closet” cleaning out and seeing what could still be packaged up and given to listeners.  For some reason there was a solitary copy of the book sitting in the back of the shelves.  I immediately grabbed and said, “hold on to this I want to read this.”

    Being a huge Bowie fan (but then again, who isn’t) I wanted some more insight into the world of Bowie.  The career of Woody Woodmansey covered covers my favorite (and probably many others) era of Bowie’s career.  Woody was one of the Spiders from Mars, this means he was with Bowie during the early 70s on the albums from “The Man Who Sold the World” (1970) through to the album, “Alladin Sane” (1973).  These are some of the best (in my humble opinion) albums of Bowie’s career.

    The book first starts with Woody’s stunted educational career, where his drums soon took over and school was less important.  The tales of how he was somewhat shunned by his parents and living at the top of the stairs in Bowie’s house created a great view into what a true starving artist’s life is like.

    Soon the glam rock era was in full force and the Spiders were having to deal with fame, drugs, and being on the road.  The musicians were creating new music but their individual personal lives were creating little hiccups in their careers that soon led to the demise of the Spiders.  Woody Woodmansey tells these stories in such a candid/casual way that, as the reader, you feel as if you and Woody are just sitting in his living room or at the neighborhood pub and he’s just telling stories.  This makes the book a very fast and easy read.  Fast because you just have to know what happens next, and easy because the flow and structure of the stories are matter of fact with no extra fluff.

    The book also covers the rest of Woody’s career to working with various artists through the years, including Art Garfunkel, all the way to various tributes to Mick Ronson and David Bowie leading up to him being the only surviving Spider.  Woody still tours with his band Holy Holy which is somewhat of a Bowie tribute band.

    Although this book has no big reveals or shocking secrets, it is a nice glimpse into the early 70s music scene.


  • gilwilson 11:40 PM on April 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 80s, , , david morrissey, glam rock, morrissey, , , punk rock, the smiths   

    Audiobook Review: “Autobiography” by Morrissey 


    Audiobook Review: “Autobiography”
    by Morrissey
    read by David Morrissey
    published by Penguin Audio
    12 hrs and 44 mins

    I can’t exactly say why I picked up this audiobook, but in the end, I’m glad I did. I would never consider myself with a Morrissey fan or even a Smiths fan, only by the reason that I was never really exposed to Morrissey. The weird thing is that I work in radio, but never have been exposed to his music. After listening to this audiobook, actually right about the middle of the book when I found out who some of his musical influences were some of my favorites, such as the New York Dolls and David Bowie, I dug out some of his music and gave him a listen. After hours of watching YouTube videos and listening to various sources of Morrissey’s work with the Smiths and his solo work, I became a fan.

    Before actually listening to this audiobook I had only heard of Morrissey as the subject of humor, even once in a skit in the cult television show, “Mystery Science Theatre 3000.” I had always heard he was a mopey, depression inducing singer/songwriter. I have since learned my lesson and with my new found appreciation of his life I can see how his songwriting would lean toward a mopey, depression inducing realm of music, but most of what I heard was just plain good music.

    In fact not knowing the artist, I even made my own joke (half-hearted) when I saw that David Morrissey had been cast as The Governor in the television series “The Walking Dead.” Using the the idea that they shared the last name I had posted via social media that The Walking Dead was going to get a mopey Governor who will depress everyone with his singing. (I didn’t say it was a good joke.) Then I saw on the list of upcoming books from Penguin I saw that David Morrissey was going to be reading the Morrissey autobiography, in my mind I saw it as synchronicity so I just had to give this book a listen. David Morrissey delivers this audiobook as if it were a performance, not just any performance, but he delivers it as though it is not a mere audiobook, but a classical play. Listening to this performance the listener can hear that Morrissey has a way with words that turns even the prose describing his life becomes musical. David Morrissey’s excellent vocal performance blended in with Morrissey’s words creates one of the most artistic pieces of non-fiction ever written. If this audiobook isn’t up for every award available it will be a pure shame.

    So what is the listener in store for? To start out not a lot of happiness, but when the happy times arrive even Morrissey can find a way to make them melancholy. Morrissey suffered the same school system as, if not worse than, that depicted in the movie and album “The Wall” by Pink Floyd. From the sound of the description of the teachers, these guys should never have been allowed to be in charge of shaping and molding children’s minds and futures. I’m guessing that Great Britain didn’t have much of a screening process in the way of hiring teachers between WWII and through the 70s.

    Speaking of the 70s, that’s when this audiobook gets to be fun, so get past Morrissey’s early school days and be prepared to have a fun romp through 70s music. It all starts with Morrissey discovering the pre-punk days of music with the New York Dolls and David Bowie. This is the decade that seems to have best musically shaped Morrissey and led to the creation of The Smiths.

    This then leads to all sorts of legal problems between the band members and the record labels that begins to shape Morrissey’s solo career. Finally getting the recognition he deserves Morrissey is still constantly haunted by his former bandmates and the relationships between them and record labels not adequately promoting his music, but he carries on and his attitude is clear throughout the book. Even his hatred for Margaret Thatcher is fully represented, as well as his animal activism. The man knows what he stands for and is not afraid to express it. This book could very well be included on any Smiths or Morrissey fans audio shelf right next to their Morrissey music collection.


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