“Give it a whirl and I'll love you till Tuesday”
Marc Riley has long flown the Bowie flag very high at the BBC over the years. His loyalty was rewarded directly many times via interviews and even a radio session in October 1999 for the show that Marc co-hosted with Mark Radcliffe. The pair introduced Bowie onstage a couple of times too. Marc also had the privilege of conducting the last ever radio interview with DB. Bowie is frequently featured on his long-running BBC Radio 6 Music show these days too.
Having been a superfan since 1972, Marc is more qualified than most for his next project, The A to Z of David Bowie by Marc Riley and Rob Hughes podcast, which launches on Tuesday 30th January at 3am, with subsequent episodes released every Tuesday at the same time.
The A to Z of David Bowie is available on iTunes, acast and all good podcast services.
Keep reading for an interview with Marc Riley regarding the show.
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Total Blam Blam in conversation with Marc Riley - January 2018
TBB: How did The A to Z of David Bowie by Marc Riley and Rob Hughes come about?
MR: Well Bowie has been a huge part of my life and I can say the same for Rob so once we’d kinda accepted the fact that he was no longer with us we tried to work out how we could channel our love of Bowie into something positive. We could have written a Book (well Rob could have written it and I could have coloured in the pictures), but the glut of books that followed David’s death almost immediately ruled that out… of course some of those books were great - which made our decision not to go down that route even easier.
I did a Podcast for Adam Buxton - who’s obviously a big Bowie fan too - and I thought maybe that was a way to get the idea out of our system. That was only a few months after David’s death in the June of 2016. Anyway… I ran it past Rob and he was up for doing a podcast.
TBB: Obviously you have taken on a massive undertaking with this, was it a bit daunting?
MR: It really was. And once we started writing down all the subjects we wanted to cover in the A to Z format we realised that there was much more work than we’d realised. I mean… since we started researching David’s life, late 2016 we started hearing of stories and events that we didn’t know anything about. No great surprise really I suppose. There are people out there who have forgotten more about Bowie than Rob or I will ever know - but it was a surprise to us! So many of the Bowie stories make you smile from ear to ear.
TBB: Any examples of that spring to mind?
MR: I love the fact that he nearly made an Album with Christopher Lee… I didn’t know he met the queen as a young boy. There was his relationship with Edgar Broughton which never reached its full potential - but did see Edgar managing to get his way into the after-show party at the 1973 farewell show and get himself - seemingly - heroically drunk. There’s loads of stuff. And then you find yourself delving deep into the albums that have been a part of your life for so long and learning stuff. Like the story of how Aladdin Sane ended up with lightning bolt on his face… ah… there’s too much to recall here.
TBB: How many episodes of the A to Z of David Bowie do you have planned?
MR: To be brutally honest we haven’t a clue. We sat down to record all the subjects we’d gotten together for ‘A’ thinking it would amount to maybe 40 minutes’ worth of podcast time. That turned out to be 110 minutes!! That’s TWO Podcasts. Our ramblings on Aladdin Sane take 25 minutes alone! So far all the letters we’ve recorded have come in at roughly the same length. 110 minutes. So A, B, C, D and E are all roughly 30-35 minutes long and in 2 parts… but F came out as 3 episodes. Looking at that as a rough guide I’d expect the whole series to be… maybe… 40+ episodes??
TBB: This isn’t the first A to Z you and Rob have done, is it? You also did the punk one for BBC 6 Music, right?
MR: Yeah - what came first, the chicken or the egg? After we’d decided to have a run at a David Bowie A to Z, I saw the opportunity for doing a less specific subject that would work for the show. It’s a tried and tested formula but I knew it would be as good (or as bad) as the content it held.
So I went for ‘Punk and New Wave' which proved to be really popular. Ironically, so much so that 6 Music decided to edit it down and put it out as a Podcast. Did really well. We’re currently doing a Psych A to Z… but I don’t know if that’s going to a Podcast or not.
TBB: How do people get to hear the A to Z of David Bowie?
MR: Our agency is called Acast. They have an App. And of course Apple Podcasts… or wherever you generally get your podcasts! It launches on Tuesday 30th January at 3am and the following episodes get released every Tuesday at the same time. That’s the plan anyway.
TBB: I notice the A to Z of David Bowie already hit the #1 on the iTunes music podcast chart before it’s even out there, just on the strength of people pre-registering their interest. How have they shown their anticipation?
MR: Positive. Though I’m sure we’ll get some ‘facts’ wrong. David’s life is littered with myths and misinformation. I’m also sure some people won’t agree with our opinions on various Bowie matters… but there’s nothing we can do about that… PUBLISH AND BE DAMNED!!
TBB: The A to Z of David Bowie logo is reminiscent of a DavidBowie.com logo which utilised letters from various Bowie album sleeves. Did it take long to get to the final version?
MR: How would I know? You designed it!
TBB: Finally, you and Mark Radcliffe met Bowie on many occasions to interview him and he was a regular guest on your various radio shows. You also introduced a couple of his concerts at Hammersmith and the Manchester Move festival, both in 2002. He was clearly very keen on you, but did he ever comment on the times you attempted to ape his look?
MR: I think he once uttered “Clown!”, which I took as a cue to make up as one for our next meeting. He didn’t blink an eyelid!
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