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BOWIE FAN FOCUS 6: Richard Miller

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PostPosted: Tue 6 Aug - 18:15 (2019)    Post subject: BOWIE FAN FOCUS 6: Richard Miller Reply with quote

August 6, 2019

BOWIE FAN FOCUS 6: Richard Miller

You’ll all have the hang of this by now, but for a full explanation and to participate, join BOWIE KOOKS (the only Official David Bowie Facebook Fan Group), and then follow this link:


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~ Name?
RM: Richard Miller

~ Age?
RM: I was born five days before the release of ‘I Pity The Fool’. An omen…?

~ What does David Bowie mean to you?
RM: More than a lot. Not quite everything, but pretty close.

~ When and how did you first become aware of him?
RM: Going on a Sunday School trip to see a pantomime at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham around Christmas ’72. I distinctly remember The Jean Genie playing on the radio on the coach. I think that and Life On Mars? were out as singles within a short space of time of each other. The lyrics just fascinated the seven-year-old me… “Bites on the neon and sleeps in a capsule” … “Loves chimney stacks” … “Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow” … “Look at those cavemen go” … What could it all mean? And then Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart would play The Laughing Gnome on Junior Choice at the weekends (which had been re-released as a cash-in single). And that was apparently by ‘David Bowie’ too!! I thought it couldn’t possibly be the same person, and there must be two singers plying their trade as David Bowie.

~ First item you ever obtained, including music, memorabilia, magazines, etc.?
RM: Around that time I remember getting Music Star magazine pretty regularly, with their fantastic pull-out posters, so there would have been DB one on my wall, amongst the Sweets, Slades and Gary Glitters(!)
Music-wise, wind forward a few years, when I had my first paper round at 14, and Boys Keep Swinging was the first single of his I bought.

~ Is there a Bowie holy grail for you that you have yet to track down?
RM: I would quite like something with a genuine signature on it. I’m not a mad collector of these things, but that would be nice… even if it was just an old fag packet. Then I’d have something that he’d definitely have touched.

~ Most valuable Bowie possession you own on an emotional level?
RM: Either my original Boys Keep Swinging 7-inch, or otherwise my poster featuring Bowie in TMWFTE, promoting the ’Stars Of The British Screen’ photographic exhibition. I framed it up when I got it in 1985, and when he died, it occurred to me that it’s hung pride of place in every place I’ve lived, for over 30 years.

~ The best Bowie show you ever attended?
RM: I saw him six times. I think my favourite would have been 1990’s Sound+Vision (at Manchester City’s Maine Road stadium), mainly because it’s the least visually documented tour that I experienced, and following on from the messiness of Glass Spider, I was very impressed by the slickness and simplicity of the presentation, particularly him ‘duetting’ with himself on the enormous black and white video screen on Space Oddity. Nice to see that being used again with the 50th anniversary Space Oddity/moonlandings celebrations very recently.

~ The show you wish you had witnessed?
RM: I’d loved to have seen the Iggy Pop tour of 1977 with DB tinkling the ivories in a low-key stylee.

Otherwise the only actual DB tour I missed once I was old enough to go to gigs, was Serious Moonlight… and that was entirely my own fault. I’d fallen heavily for him in the late 70s, and bought up all of his albums and most of his singles between 1979 and 1981. Of course, apart from odd bits like Baal and collaborations with Queen and Giorgio Moroder (which didn’t appeal to the post-punk, NME-reading me) it took him an age to put a proper LP out after Scary Monsters. And when he did, it was Let’s Dance, and all the proverbial Phil Collins fans were suddenly David Bowie fans. And my youthful cultural snobbery wasn’t having that, so I refused to go! A friend did bring me a programme back, but on reflection, the more mature me really wishes he’d gone!

~ What would you have said had you met him, or, if you did meet, what did you say?
RM: I don’t have a clue. Occasionally one does meet one’s heroes, celebrities or people one admires, and I get terribly tongue-tied. So in all honesty, I’d have been in too much awe and would undoubtedly bottled it!

~ Favourite album?
RM: It really depends. The two that I regard as the most ‘perfect’ from start to finish and are the best listening experiences as a whole have to be Low and Blackstar. So, because it’s lived with me the longest, I’d plump for Low.

~ Favourite bootleg?
RM: I’m very fond of the ‘Slinky Secrets’ Outside Tour Rehearsals.

~ Item(s) you'd love to see in the Bowie Store?
RM: A David Bowie LP/compilation/whatever with my artwork on the cover!

~ Top ten songs?
RM: Not always, but in the upper half of my top 30 would always be:
Space Oddity
We Are The Dead
Boys Keep Swinging
Ashes To Ashes
Absolute Beginners
Where Are We Now?

~ Favourite lyric?
RM: “Heaven loves ya. The clouds part for ya. Nothing stands in your way, when you're a boy”

~ Favourite film?
RM: The Man Who Fell To Earth. (Could it possibly be anything else? He’s been in some stinkers!)

~ Favourite video?
RM: The videos that Floria Sigismondi did for Earthling are creative and arresting and don’t get talked about very much. Little Wonder is especially good, referring back to the past (the Ziggy character), the future (the Where Are We Now? style puppet/projections) with bits of Dali, David Lynch and Pixies aesthetics thrown into the mix.

~ Favourite era?
RM: 76-79

~ Best Bowie moment?
RM: Probably seeing him at the Move Festival in Manchester in 2002. It was the gig I was closest to the stage, and it took place only about a mile away from my house.

~ Guilty secret?
RM: Although The Man Who Fell To Earth was an amazing piece of work, I thought the ‘sequel’, the Lazarus play/musical, was absolutely terrible. Sorry!

~ What impact upon your life has Bowie had? Eg: Music, art and literature? Children or pet's names? Tattoos? Mannerisms? Clothing? Choice of life partner?
RM: Apart from being a constant drain on the bank balance, TBH, not many of the above!

I’m an all-round (alternative) music nut, and was an early adopter of the likes of The Arcade Fire, Pixies, The Cure and the likes, so it was always gratifying when Bowie made clear his appreciation of such artists and that our tastes for the slightly more esoteric were in alignment. I guess I’d not be listening to as much Scott Walker these days were it not for Bowie, but by the same measure, the Anthony Newley section of my record collection is pretty slim!

In the 80s, I played in various amateur bands, largely performing original material with the odd cover thrown in. In one of the slightly more successful ones (the other members of which were largely U2 obsessives) I insisted we did a Bowie cover. We regularly performed Rebel Rebel – far from my favourite Bowie song, but one that was simple enough for everyone to get a reasonable handle on, and which the audience would recognise.

My partner is German, and my brother in law lives in Berlin, and the first time we went to stay with him (in the early 2000s) I insisted he drove us to all the Bowie sites – Hauptstraße, Hansa Studios etc, just to look at the buildings. I go to Berlin a couple of times a year and inevitably check in at the Neues Ufer and have a wander round the neighbourhood.

Meeting like-minded Kooks at events and conventions is always a joy, as there aren’t many folks in day-to-day life who share the obsession.

~ Does David Bowie influence your working life?
RM: Latterly he certainly does… I’m a graphic designer by trade. When he died, there was such an outpouring of creativity end emotion of one type or another… culturally, he seemed to be ‘at the centre of it all’ for a while, and my response was to produce some pieces of artwork which when showed to Bowie fan groups online, garnered an incredibly positive response. To cut a long story short, working with the Bowie merchandising people in New York, ensuring I was using the correct source imagery and wording, I’ve been able to turn my designs into officially licensed Bowie merchandise in the form of a set of six high quality art prints and card sets.

They’ve been approved by the official Bowie merchandisers, so it’s quite a nice feather to have in my cap. They are available exclusively through my website, on the David Bowie stall when it pops up in Brixton, and at as many Bowie events/conventions I can get to. I’ll be at Bowie’s Beckenham Oddity on August 17th with these and other DB-inspired bits and pieces. Pop along and say hello if you’re going.

~ Finally, answer the question we did not ask, but you wish we had?
RM: ‘Perfect Day’ by Lou Reed. But I’m not telling you the question and you’ll never guess. (Ed note: actually, did guess correctly!)

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