In the early years of my TV career at one of Britain’s leading independent television companies, Granada, I came across many famous people and soon found out that celebrities, like people you meet in a bus queue, are usually no more extraordinary or unusual than anyone else you might encounter that day. Sometimes though, even a full-of-himself young TV employee could be impressed by a sudden explosion of star-dust. First it was Marc Bolan, the glamourously charismatic lead singer of the band T-Rex. Marc was making a series, called Marc, for Granada and I was working in the music department there. We met over some backing-track issue which is now long forgotten, but we hit it off well enough to go for a few drinks together while he was staying in Manchester. His days of mega-stardom were waning and, sometimes, a beer encouraged him to open his heart. We got on. For the final show in the series, he’d asked his old friend David Bowie to take part. This was a bit of a coup because Bowie at that time had just recorded the album Heroes, one of my favourites, and he performed the song for the first time in that programme.
I had been a fan of David Bowie since the Ziggy Stardust days and couldn’t believe that the great man was actually in the Granada studios. Anyway, he was and, as I found out, he was as normal a bloke as the next man – charming and talented too of course. I was going for what is euphemistically called a bathroom break and it happened to coincide with a break in rehearsals for Marc. Without a thought, I walked into the male toilets situated under my office and next to the studio entrance. It was there, unglamourously no doubt, I found myself in glittering company. After, the call of nature, three guys washed their hands and Marc introduced me to Bowie, who was quiet, pleasant and remarkably low-key. We shook newly-washed hands and went our separate ways.
Many years later, wanting to make some commemorative gesture after David Bowie’s unexpected death, I decided to write one of my Fibonacci poems about the incident. Today, along with two other new poems, it is published in the latest issue of the Fibonacci specialist journal, The Fib Review. I’m an enthusiast for this demanding short-form poetry style and I feel honoured and fortunate that The Fib Review has supported me over the last eight years by publishing my work – with these three new ones, they have now published 62 of my ‘Fibs’.
David Bowie, of course, was not the only one of those two stars to have died since that meeting. I met Marc again for a drink before he left Manchester and we said, as you do, we should get together again the next time he was in town. That wasn’t to be because a very short time later he was dead, within the month I think, but my memory is unclear about the dates. I was genuinely shocked and saddened after my first real encounter with the death of a celebrity.
So here’s to Marc Bolan and David Bowie – it was an honour to have met you guys.
Here’s that recording of David Bowie singing Heroes and then, a clip of the two of them closing that final show: