David Bowie

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David Bowie (January 8, 1947 - January 10, 2016) was a British pop and rock singer, actor, multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger, and audio engineer.

He became world famous in the 1970s with songs like "Space Oddity" (1969), "Starman" (1972), "Jean Genie" (1972), "Sound & Vision" (1975), "Heroes" (1975), "Boys Keep Swinging" (1979) and continued his success in the next decades with songs like "Under Pressure" (1981) and "Let's Dance" (1983). Bowie is well known for frequently reinventing his music and image. He is widely regarded as the most influential innovator in rock and pop music since the 1970s.

After performing for Zappa Adrian Belew joined Bowie's band in 1978.

Bowie referencing Zappa

Bowie's first bands, The Buzz and The Riot Squad covered and recorded It Can't Happen Here and Who Are The Brain Police? as early as 1966-1967. [1] [2] On page 49 of David Buckley's "Strange Fascination: David Bowie: The Definitive Story" Bowie commented on this in an interview: "I also made them cover Mothers of Invention songs. Not happily, I seem to remember, especially as my big favourite was "It Can't Happen Here". Frank's stuff was virtually unknown in Britain, and relistening to that song I can see why he wasn't on any playlists." [3] In the same book, on page 37-38 the following is written: "I recall that Bowie and I talked for a couple of hours. He had a vast knowledge of the American underground groups and particularly liked Frank Zappa, The Velvet Underground and especially The Fugs." [4]

On October 30, 2003 Bowie played a concert in Vienna when he noticed his female bassist did not wear a long shirt (just a jacket above a smaller shirt) and mentioned: "Who could imagine?", in reference to It Can't Happen Here. Then he asked the audience if any of them knew this song? [5]

References by Zappa

"His final public appearance in Philadelphia though, came later that evening. With his spare time, Zappa decided out of curiosity to catch David Bowie's show at the Spectrum and then see Randy Newman at the Academy. After returning from the Spectrum, Frank was resting in his Academy box during intermission waiting for Newman to bring out his orchestra, when MC Steve Mortorano approached him.

"How would you like to go out and tell the kids not to smoke?" Zappa was asked.

"Sure," said Frank.

Mortorano walked out on stage first. "We have a special guest," he said, "who's here to deliver a message. Would you please welcome Doris Day."

Frank strolled out briskly and took the mike in his right hand. "Ladies and Gentlemen," spoketh Zappa, "I've come out here to make an announcement. Please do not smoke. If you want to smoke, go to the Spectrum and watch David Bowie." (Quoted from What's A Mother To Do?)

FRANCESCO: "… You got lotsa guys like that now. Everybody thinks they're terrific . . . who'll be the 'Mozart' of your century? David Bowie?

The people of your century no longer require the service of composers. A composer is as useful to a person in a jogging suit as a dinosaur turd in the middle of his runway.

Your age is ugly and loveless, and when they eventually write you up in the leather book with the red silk thing hanging out the side, YOUR nasty little 'Mozart' will be a sort of egalitarian-affirmative action non-person of indeterminate sex, chosen by a committee who will seek advice from a group of accountants who will consult a tan lawyer who will negotiate with a clothing manufacturer who will sponsor a series which will feature a simulation of a lip-synced version of the troubled life of a white boy with special hair who achieves musical greatness through abnormally large sales figures. …

From Them Or Us (The Book), by Frank Zappa, p. 11

In Be In My Video the line "let's dance the blues under the megawatt moonlight" is a reference to Bowie's music video "Let's Dance" (1983).

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