Cameron Crowe remembers David Bowie
PASADENA, Calif.—Before Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and well before Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe was a rock-music journalist for Rolling Stone and other publications, and one of his most interesting and generous interview subjects was David Bowie, who died Sunday at 69.
At the Television Critics Association to promote Showtime’s upcoming Roadies, his new series set behind the scenes at rock concerts, he reminisced about Bowie, with whom he spent six months for a story in the 1970s.
After expressing interest in an interview as a young journalist, Crowe says he was “sitting in my bedroom in San Diego,” when he got a phone call from Bowie himself, who said, “I’m on a train, I just split with my manager (and) I don’t know many people in Los Angeles,” promising to call him when he arrived.
He did. “I spent six months straight with David Bowie at that time, with little breaks to go back to San Diego. It was in a whirlwind period between Young Americans and Station to Station. There were no limits; everything was discussed, he said, ‘Ask me anything; watch me create, watch me produce, watch me sad, watch me happy.'”
And he did so, happily. “Even then, which was kind of a wild period in his life, he was always obsessed with music and art and never the business,” Crowe says. Bruce Springsteen “caught his attention early on,” and his influence was not just his music but his iconoclastic emphasis on music first.
“David Bowie’s impact is so huge, in that he presents himself as a role model; he was an anti-branding artist. He had a seismic effect on people, not because he did the same thing again and again, but because he always shook it up.”