David Bowie: The Brixton Years

David Bowie Brixton

David Bowie fell to Earth 69 years ago today, January 8, in this home at 40 Stansfield Road, Brixton. He lived here until he was about six, often dreaming of an exotic life filled with laughing gnomes, tin machines, and a beautiful Somali wife.

As you can see, it had just been sold, in July 2015 to be precise. The agent informed me that it went for close to its asking price of 1.1 million pounds, or $1.6 million (!!), and there was no Bowie premium. Bowie’s father, John Jones, and his first wife, Hilda, paid about 500 pounds for it after WW2. Take a look inside here.

Max Roach Park is nearby. I’d like to say it inspired Bowie’s interest in jazz, exemplified by his new album, Blackstar, also hatched today, but the park—alas—was named after the iconic drummer in 1986.

See more Bowie/Brixton photos on my Tumblr page.

Lemmy has a cold*

My interview with Lemmy in February, 2005, almost did not happen.

The Motörhead frontman wasn’t feeling 100 percent, and his publicist wanted to postpone. But I was all primed for a major drinking session at his local boozer, the Rainbow, and I persuaded her that a half-dozen Jack & Cokes would be good for him. So Lemmy, ever the trooper, walked up the hill from his apartment, took a seat in the afternoon sun at a patio table, and tentatively nursed his cold with his favorite medicine. Read more

Eddie Cochran’s last ride

A little over a year after “the day the music died”—when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash—Eddie Cochran met a similarly violent fate on April 17, 1960, dealing another critical blow to the fledgling rock ‘n’ roll genre.

London's Daily Mirror announces the death of Eddie Cochran, April 18, 1960.

London’s Daily Mirror announces the death of Eddie Cochran, April 18, 1960.

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Edith Cavell – English nurse martyred 100 years ago

Edith Cavell (1865-1915)

Edith Cavell (1865-1915)

This is a scheduled break from my rock ‘n’ roll reporting to mark the centenary of the execution of English nurse Edith Cavell during World War I.

Cavell, 49, went before a firing squad in German-occupied Belgium at dawn on October 12, 1915, after a German court-martial found her guilty of treason. Her crime was to help about 200 Allied soldiers escape Belgium to the neutral Netherlands. (Also executed was Philippe Baucq, a Belgian architect.) Read more

Los Lobos at MacArthur Park, Los Angeles

Free is one of my favorite words, and Los Lobos are one of my favorite bands. Combine these two elements, and I made sure I was in the front row for the quasi-homecoming show by East L.A.’s greatest musical export at the Levitt Pavilion in Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park on September 19.

(l-r) Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano, drummer Enrique “Bugs” Gonzalez, Louie Pérez

(l-r) Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano, drummer Enrique “Bugs” Gonzalez, Louie Pérez

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Celebrity graves in England

I’m a terrible person to take on vacation.

You might want to lounge on the beach, or go shopping or eating. I just want to visit celebrity graves and miscellaneous death sites. Fortunately my wife is a good sport about it, but when I recently had the opportunity to take a solo road trip around England (where the beaches, the shopping and the food are lousy anyway), I went into unabashed overdrive.

Here are some of my haunts, mostly in the rock ‘n’ roll genre since that is what England always does best.

Former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren—Highgate Cemetery, London

Former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren—Highgate Cemetery, London

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George Harrison’s houses

It all started for George Harrison at No. 12 Arnold Grove in Liverpool, in 1943. He lived here until the age of 5 with his parents and three older siblings.

George Harrison 12 Arnold Grove

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The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” turns 50

(Click hereSatisfaction turns 50 to buy the “Satisfaction” 12-inch vinyl reissue.)

Back in 1985 when I was in my last year at boarding school and filled with the usual teen anxieties, one of my greatest fears was that the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” would pass without appropriate recognition. So I wrote to my local DJ to ask, among many other things, if the station planned to commemorate the milestone. Read more

Ozzy Osbourne, Gene Simmons

Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne in Los Angeles, February 2015

Most days I wake up about 10 a.m., and it soon dawns on me that I have nothing to do until bedtime. Such are the perils of enforced early retirement. But I was mildly busy in recent months interviewing Ozzy Osbourne at his home on Feb. 4, and then Gene Simmons on the phone on April 8. Read more

Lally Stott: Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheep, Cheep

Lally Stott would have been 70 in 2015. “Who’s Lally Stott?” you ask. Harold “Lally” Stott was an English singer/songwriter whose best-known creation vied with “Maggie May,” “My Sweet Lord” and “Brown Sugar” as one of the biggest songs of 1971.

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