BBC Radio 6 Music is celebrating the musical virtuoso that is David Bowie throughout Easter week.
Programme specials reveal precious gems from the archive featuring concerts and interviews with Bowie, some of which have not been heard for over 30 years. And fascinating documentaries uncover more about his life and work. There will be additional complimentary programming on Radio 2. Together the networks offer a week of unmissable Bowie magic that is sure to thrill fans and enthral those yet to discover his brilliance.
Particular focus is given to the Berlin era. Following his massive success with glam-rock alter ego Ziggy Stardust in the early 70s and in a bid to recharge his creativity, Bowie lived in the West of the city from 1976-1979. Here, the seminal album Low was created followed by Heroes and then Lodger. Bowie called the three albums collectively his ‘triptych’. Across the week, 6 Music’s presenters pour over this productive time in Bowie’s career and give their thoughts and insights into this mythical period in Bowie’s legacy.
Further highlights include Adam Buxton giving his own unique guide to BBC Archive interviews with Bowie; Cerys Matthews gets an exclusive visit to the V&A’s Bowie exhibition before it opens; and the Live Music Hour will play David Bowie’s 1971 Paris Theatre In Concert set, which has only ever been played out in its entirety twice before and was last heard by listeners on 20 June, 1971.
And 6 Music’s presenters will be honouring Bowie in their shows. For them, his influence has been massive.
Marc Rileysaid, “It was June 15th 1972 that David Bowie changed my life. Performing Starman on a kids TV programme called Lift Off three weeks before his legendary appearance on Top of the Pops. When he announced ‘the last show we’ll ever do’ from the stage of the Hammersmith Odeon just about a year later I thought I’d never even get to see him in concert. Who’d have thought over nearly three decades later I’d be introducing him onto that very same stage. Bowie changed my life. It’s a simple as that.”
Freak Zone host, Stuart Maconie says, “From using a stylophone on his first hit to dabbling with drum and bass in the 90s, David Bowie has always been open to new sounds and sonic adventure. And never better than when in the 1970s, he incorporated krautrock and electronica on his Berlin masterpiece Low. Chilly and beautiful.”
Adam Buxton said, “David Bowie has done a lot of interviews in his 45 year career and I've listened to most of them. I'll be taking a journey through my favourite parts of Bowie's work thus far and putting them in the context of a few of his most insightful, charming, and ludicrous interviews.”
And bbc.co.uk/6music will be collating a unique Online Collection bringing together all the 6 Music content and more into one place so fans can immerse themselves and participate in all things Bowie.
Monday 25th to Friday 29th March on 6 Music
Marc Riley, Mon to Thurs, 7-9pm:Throughout the week, Marc has delved into his archive and revisits a series of fascinating interviews he did about Bowie in 2004 with record producer extraordinaire Tony Visconti, rock ‘n’ roll photographer Mick Rock, legendary producer Ken Scott and Bowie’s band mate Bob Soley. Marc will also be playing tracks from a Radio 1 session David Bowie recorded especially for Mark Radcliffe and Marc Riley at the BBC Maida Vale studios back in 2000.
David Bowie Star Special, Mon and Tues, 4-5am:This is a chance to hear a programme, rarely heard since it was made in 1979, in which Bowie presents some of his favourite music which ranges from The Velvet Underground to Elgar and Little Richard to The Mekons.
6 Music Breakfast with Shaun Keaveny, Friday, 7-10am:Shaun introduces Heroes as the Album of the Day, playing a track from the album Bowie made during his years in Berlin. Further tracks will be played on shows throughout the day.
Saturday 30th March on 6 Music
Weekend Breakfast (7-10am):Today and tomorrow, in a special vintage Key of Life interview, Mary Anne Hobbs revisits the 1997 interview she did with Bowie to celebrate his 50th birthday. This selection of her favourite clips feature Bowie speaking about Andy Warhol, Marc Bolan, Mick Jagger, Lou Reed, Brain Eno, the inspiration for Ziggy Stardust, and his enduring love of dance music.
Freakier Zone, 12-1am: Music journalist Marcus O’Dair joins Stuart Maconie to look beyond the makeup and the costumes to Bowie as a songwriter with a selection of suitably freaky cover versions of Bowie originals. From William Shatner’s bonkers version of Space Oddity to Leo Minor’s complete re-interpretation of Ashes to Ashes, Bowie’s classic hits are the gift that keeps on giving.
Sunday 31st March on 6 Music
The Live Music Hour, 3-4am:This is a rare chance to hear Bowie’s 1971 Paris Theatre In Concert set. It was billed as David Bowie and Friends and has only be broadcast twice in its entirety over 30 years ago - when it was recorded live by the BBC on 3rd June 1971 and repeated on the 20th June 1971. The second half of The Live Music Hour will be a selection of BBC Sessions and Concerts from across the years featuring artists performing cover versions of Bowie’s songs.
Cerys Matthews(10am-12pm): Cerys heads down to London's Victoria and Albert Museum for a personal tour around the hotly tipped ‘David Bowie is’ exhibition accompanied by one of the key curators. The museum has been granted unprecedented access to the David Bowie Archive to curate the first international retrospective of his extraordinary career.
Bowie & Beyond: A Music Fans Guide To Berlin (12-1pm): Comedian and writer, Danny Robins explores the cultural and social forces that have shaped the city's rich musical history from Weimar times, via the Bowie years, to the techno revolution of the 90s and the current vibrant music scene. He visits Bowie’s old haunts and the legendary Hansa studios where he and Iggy Pop recorded together and inspired a creative influx of artists to the city. From those in the music industry, past and present, to those creating the current music scene, Danny builds up a picture of the influences that have shaped the city's unique soundscape and why it continues to be such an inspiring place for musicians.
Says Danny Robbins, "It's hard to separate Bowie from Berlin and Berlin from Bowie. Each has come to define the legend of the other. So much of what has come musically since has been inspired by the albums he and Iggy made in that city, so to visit Hansa Studios where they worked felt like one of the worthwhile rock ‘n’ roll pilgrimages."
Adam Buxton on David Bowie, 4-6pm: In this special show, self-confessed Bowie nut Adam Buxton takes listeners on a journey through the weird and wonderful world of one of the UK's most colourful pop stars. Featuring rare interviews, some unheard for over 30 years, Adam hand-picks some classic BBC Bowie moments, capturing the alternative spirit of Bowie's ever-changing persona.
Freak Zone, 8-10pm: Stuart Maconie celebrates Low, the first of David Bowie’s hugely influential Berlin LPs, featuring Brian Eno’s atmospheric keyboards to the fore.
And on Tuesday 2nd and Wednesday 3rd April (12-12.30am), in Bowie's Heroes Matt Everitt looks at the writers, musicians, composers and artists who've inspired Bowie throughout his career. It features new and archive interviews from people he’s worked alongside including Dave Grohl, Frank Black, Nile Rogers, Neil Tennant, Tony Visconti, Rick Wakeman, Brian Eno, Moby and Billy Corgan, plus musicians who cite him as a life-changing influence such as Noel Gallagher, Sinead O’Connor and Wayne Coyne.
BBC Radio 2 will also have a number of programmes celebrating the career of the legend that is David Bowie. On Good Friday, Bowie @ The BBC (10pm-midnight) will look back at some of the Bowie best bits – using audio from the BBC’s vast archive.
On Easter Monday, in Mick Ronson – The Man With the Golden Guitar (10-11pm) Gary Kemp marks the 20th anniversary of the death of his guitar hero Mick Ronson with a celebration of his career. With previously unheard archive of Mick and David Bowie, plus fellow Mick Ronson fans, Tony Visconti, Ian Hunter, Lou Reed, John Mellencamp, Chrissie Hynde and the men Mick played with in The Spider From Mars - Trevor Bolder and Woody Woodmansey, Gary explains why Mick is such an important figure in British rock n roll. He highlights the important contribution Mick made to some of the most acclaimed albums in rock history and why his talent deserves to be celebrated. It was through his work with Bowie that Mick came to the attention of and subsequently worked with some of the biggest names in rock.
There will also be a special episode of Sounds of the 70s (3-5pm) on Sunday 31st March. Presenter Johnnie Walker will reflect on Bowie as a style and music icon, and the personification of the 1970s in popular culture. He visits the new ‘David Bowie is’ exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Plus Johnnie spins the hits and some of his more obscure favourite Bowie tracks, interweaved with archive of Bowie and his friends and collaborators from the 1970's, Mick Ronson, Iggy Pop and Tony Visconti and those he influenced, including Boy George, Gary Numan and Janis Ian. On Saturday 30th March, Pick of the Pops (1-3pm), presented by Tony Blackburn will look at the chart from 29th March, 1986 throwing a Bowie track into the mix.
And in May this year, for the first time on British television, BBC Two will broadcast a feature length profile of the legendary artist. David Bowie - Five Years (working title) will focus on five critical years of his career - 1971, 1975, 1977, 1980 and 1983 before bringing the legend up to date with his latest album.