Lifelong David Bowie fan Joe Jones wanted to share these great pictures of David walking around Soho, London in 1983 with us…
Over to Joe…
I wanted to share these photos of David Bowie that my brother took back in 1983.
So one day, my brother decides to break free of the capitalist chains that bind him to his librarian chair and takes a trip up town to mooch around with his Nikon camera and he ends up on Brewer Street in London’s Soho.
Strolling in the morning sun, it feels good to try on that most glamorous of professions, the photographer. But nothing much happens for a bit. So he decides to go into a vintage ﬁlm poster shop. For some inspiration. But then out of that shop emerges …
Click: Ladies and Gentlemen…. Mr….David… Bowie!
Click: Yes it really is!
Click: My brother’s camera wheels and takes this photo, which has an oddly New York kind of feel. If this was a ﬁlm, we would be tracking Bowie as he walks against a tide of purposeful New Yorkers, brooding on a fateful decision which will seal his fate.
As I scour at these photos again and again, I realise I am obsessed with trying to ﬁnd…what? Something. And every single time I think, how beautiful he is. He is all angles, roman nose, cut cheekbones, deﬁned chin. Yet still the overall impression is one of warmth, light, delicacy. How exquisite he looks. So perfectly human, he makes everyone else in these photos look like a thug. And I think, maybe it’s just what he’s wearing. But when I examine his suit, the material is actually quite thin. Probably a tailor would say ﬁne. Made for him of course. All understated sharp corners. I ask my brother ‘what colour was that suit?’ But he doesn’t remember. And actually it’s even a bit crumpled. I use my hand to blot out his head for the moment and I see: it’s not the suit. It’s him. He has a beautiful, inner luminescence. Even in gritty 1980’s Soho, this is a man who wears his soul on the outside.
Click: Look how wet the street is. The pavements have an unnatural sheen. So black and white. But always I see Bowie in colour. I know what shade his hair is in this picture. He seems free to go anywhere. But is his shoulder a little sloped? Is he burdened by fame? Like the best stars he can be read so many different ways. Is he haunted? Determined? Reﬂective? Bored? This is a man who has survived addiction, rip off managers, even the hell of L.A. for Christ sakes! But still he looks…impeccable. His perfectly groomed hair. I think: who combed it? Did he do it himself? Looking closer, there is a slight halo of fuzzy, ﬁne hairs, that hairspray or no hairspray, just won’t stay down. And I ﬁnd this moving; because still, underneath all the Bowie artiﬁce, is a David Jones. Who from a standing start managed to dream into being this magnetically, attractive persona.
Click: My brother’s camera gives one last gasp. The hard, white sunshine lights up Bowie’s straight, planed back. Gawd, is it raining or sunny? In front, a ladder. Above, a cheap banner spells out ‘Erotic Movies’ surrounded by Hollywood lamp bulbs. A dark ceiling dotted with lights shaped like ﬂying saucers, a nod to the alien passing by below. The glass front contains a blurry ghost of a woman.
And I say ‘Did he mind? You taking pictures?’ And my brother says ‘Well, … he didn’t seem to …’
Among the ﬂotsam and jetsam of his day off, my brother has had an unbelievable ﬁnd. In those days you didn’t know what you’d caught until you took your ﬁlm to the developers. Could be nothing, but this time it was something and he gave them to me. To me! Because I was the true Bowie fan in the family. And I thought ‘Wow great’. They took pride of place on my bedroom wall. No one else in the world has these pictures. At one stage I did use one, in a moment of madness, and started a shopping list on the back, it says: ‘Sausages. Bread.’ Before I realised. Then stopped.
Bowie was a constant through the ups and downs of my life. Particularly through those difﬁcult teenage years. He’d turn up, sing me a song, ﬂash me a little fashion, rave about some ideas I simply must investigate. It’s been a life long love affair and now to celebrate I design Bowie inspired T shirts under the name of MdeP on Society6 .. here is my website http://www.mdepdesign.com/
I have the original Soho photos framed now on my living room wall. To look at them; which I do everyday without fail and with great pleasure. But I feel that it is also time to liberate them now for other Bowie fans to enjoy as much as I do.
Joe Jones, August 15th 2016.
Many thanks to Joe for sharing.