If I am asked to name one artist that has influenced my career then it’s never something I have to rack my brains about; there is one that, for me, has always stood head and shoulders above anyone else. I can track my decision back to 1973, I was 12 and I went to see David Bowie on his Aladdin Sane tour at King George’s Hall in Blackburn. It was the third ever gig that I had been to, and the second without my mum and I can picture every bit of it to this day. He was there in all of his splendour, in his make-up, the changes of outfits, and I remember seeing the next day a combination of things that really turned me on to style and music culture in a big way. One was that he was banned from Blackburn for wearing little apart from a sumo wrestler’s nappy type thing. I thought “Great! That’s how it should be done; I want to be banned from Blackburn as well!” I went out and bought the Aladdin Sane album, got a feather cut, stopped short of buying a giant nappy, but bought a big pair of yellow wide legged Bowie trousers – and that was the start of me buying records, going clubbing and it introduced me to the most stimulating and enjoyable things in my life being fashion, music, youth culture, dancing, socialising. It allowed me to enjoy a career in a sector, the Creative Industries, that is vital to Britain’s economy and which we lead the world in.
Times my story by tens of thousands of people who held hands with David Bowie through his inquisitive journey through skiffle, mod, psychedelia, glam rock, funk, punk new romantic via avante garde film directors, exotic Japanese designers, comic books, art and design.
One of my favourite haunts as a teenager was a nightclub called Pips in Manchester, with its myriad of club rooms within a club. We would wander from the funk and soul room, to the punk room, and onto the Roxy and Bowie room. Bowie was with us in spirit. It is this love of opportunity, and the stimulating breadth of creativity music and fashion that youth culture has bequeathed us that influenced us at HemingwayDesign to start the Vintage Festival brand and like Pips, the nightclubs that form part of events like our Vintage New Year Eve party are informed by the voyage of discovery that Bowie helped us all take.
The V&A exhibition of a couple of years ago proved beyond doubt that Bowie is THE coolest most evocative rock star ever. There is no other act, performer or band whose life and career could produce an exhibition as rich as that exhibition.
David Bowie never relied on his amazing back catalogue, always stayed relevant, and always embraced the new. He will remain an inspiration to generations to come and his legacy will live on perhaps more than any other rock star has done or will do.