11 January 2015
Music fans all over the world were saddened to hear the news earlier today that David Bowie had passed away. The rock and roll legend released 25 albums over his incredible career which spanned 6 decades. Even to this day his music is hugely popular with many age groups and his songs regularly feature in DJ sets all around the world.
Mix City wanted to pay tribute to the great man, so we caught with our very own Steve Sharpe. Steve is a retired DJ and now works as our technical adviser. During his 40 year career behind the decks, Steve worked at some of London’s biggest nightclubs. In this interview Steve recalls the early part of his career when a certain David Bowie was just emerging on the British music scene.
Hi Steve, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. In light of the news of David Bowie’s death, what are your first memories of him breaking onto the scene?
First of all I would just like to say: Today the world has lost true music genius, I was very sad when I switch on the news this morning.
Well It must have been around 1969. I was working at The Speakeasy Club that used to be on Margaret Street, near Oxford Circus. That was my first residency, I’d some how managed to blag a two hour stint every Thursday night. At that time the club used to attract genuine music fanatics, that seriously knew their stuff. So the DJ’s always had to be at the top of their game when constructing a play list. There was a kind of pressure to anticipate the next hit song, before it had even had chance to get popular. I guess looking back, this kind of pressure was brilliant for me as a DJ still learning my craft.
The Speakeasy Club, Margaret Street London 1967
Anyway one particular week just a few days before my usual Thursday night gig, I was listing to a radio show and the DJ played a song called ‘Space Oddity’ I can honestly say that I was instantly blown away by the track. That hypnotising intro that builds from nothing and eventually into deep bass tones-it had my attention straight away. It didn’t take a DJ or a music enthusiast to realise that this song was going to be big. So like most of the listeners that day, I imagine: I jumped on the bus to WH Smith to buy the record-Yes you bought your music at WH Smith back then. Of course wrote it into my set for the Thursday night at Speak. My plan was to save it until towards the end of my playlist, then unleash it close to the end of the set. However, within 10 minutes of me working that evening, I was inundated with request for the song.
Everyone knew about it and they wanted it played straight away-I obliged! That evening it was requested so many times that I had to break the unwritten law and play it for a second time, at the mangers request. From then on, like every DJ in the country, David Bowie’s songs featured in nearly all my sets. I can even say that I was still regularly playing Bowie up until my last gig in 2009.
Wow Steve, you’re really old!
Now you sound like my grandkids, next you’ll be asking for money.
Seriously though, fascinating stuff. So is Space Oddity your favourite Bowie song?
It’s so difficult to say. Each Bowie song has a special place of it’s own. I like ‘Lets Dance’, but if you pushed me to chooses, I’d say ‘Heroes’- Its phenomenal! The lyrics are beautiful. I listen to his newer stuff too, just last week I bought his latest album Blackstar, its brilliant.
So to try and some up what David Bowie did for music, what would you say?
Where to start? He was one of the worlds true music legends. An innovator and revolutionary not just in music, but in fashion. On a personal note, he’s one of my hero’s. Much of my life has been music, it’s my soul. Once in while someone special comes along that has a gift to manipulate it into something more, something different, and it reconnects you to the very reason why you dedicated your life to industry – that’s who David Bowie was to me. He constantly inspired many people from all walks of life, including some of the worlds current biggest recording artist. His music will continue live on as will his legacy.