I learned of David Bowie’s death while watching an old film, The False Madonna (1931). In it a very beautiful young man dies. He is blind, wealthy, kind. Maybe it’s only a coincidence that makes for a good story, but it makes the blow ever harder.
David was on ARChive of Contemporary Music’s Board of Advisors since the late 90s. I only met him four or five times. We had helped with his website finding him copies of some of his singles, and he was kind enough to sign a pile of LPs that we could auction off or give away. The one above was hand decorated by a fan. It’s an early US pressing of Hunky Dory (1971), that’s why there’s no lettering on the front cover like the UK release. Plenty of room for a signature and glitter.
David attended a few ARC parties, and hosted one of our best ones, introducing the re-invented version of Chic. Now this is where you’re going to think me a bit mad, but when he walked into the party, Iman on his arm, he seemed to glow. More remarkably he gave a great deal of his time, staying the full four hours at his table, talking to anyone and everyone who came his way. Truly remarkable for an artist of his stature. Yet even in 2000 his eyes were failing and he was led to the stage by his pal and long-time producer Tony Visconti.
No need for us to recount the innovative and important work. It will stand. The odd little film and David’s unexpected death left me sleepless. He will be missed.
B. George is the Co-Founder and Director of the ARChive of Contemporary Music in NYC. With over three million sound recordings, ARC is the largest popular music collection in America. The initial donation of 47,000 discs that began ARC came from his personal collection. ARC is a partner of the Internet Archive, where B. George and his staff help to curate the physical and digital music collections.