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Cameron Crowe on David Bowie: ‘He Always Served the Gods of Creativity’

Cameron Crowe on David Bowie: 'He Always Served the Gods of Creativity'

Cameron Crowe’s upcoming Showtime series, “Roadies,” is a show committed to a behind-the-scenes look at the music world; something that should get fans of “Almost Famous” excited. But for those haunted by the memory of “Aloha,” the drama might have some good favor to re-curry. 

READ MORE: The Magical David Bowie Performance Nobody Appreciates Nearly Enough

That managed to happen, though, at the TCA Winter Press Tour yesterday, when Crowe, the cast and producers took the stage to dig into the show. With fellow producer J.J. Abrams on hand — who, when asked how he had the time to attend his second TCA panel of the tour thus far, joked about being out of a job. “I’m worried about J.J.!” star Luke Wilson quipped — you wouldn’t necessarily expect Crowe to steal the day. 

But then someone asked him about David Bowie

Per TCA rules, we are allowed to publish the transcript of a complete answer to a question, so, below, enjoy what Crowe has to say about that time he spent six months hanging out with one of rock music’s most iconic figures. 

I wrote about him a lot for Rolling Stone magazine and Playboy and Cream Magazine. He was an amazing [person, and] he was the most generous and exciting interview subject that I was ever allowed a lot of time with, and that all came from David Bowie. I’d been profiling some friends of his during a period where Bowie himself had done no interviews, and I had told these musician friends of his, “Boy, I would really like to interview David Bowie.” I was 16. So they were like, “Yeah. We’ll let David Bowie know you want to interview him.”

So I went back home. I was sitting in my bedroom in San Diego, and the phone rang one night, and it was David Bowie. And he said, “I’m on a train, and I’m on my way from New York. I’ve just split with my manager. I don’t know that many people in Los Angeles. I’ll be getting in in a couple of days, and would you like to do an interview with me?” And I said, “Yes, I would. I really, really would.” He says, “Well, I’ll call you when I get to Los Angeles.” I was ready for it to be over at that point.

But sure enough, he got to Los Angeles, and he called me. He said, “Come up here. I’m staying at this house. Let’s meet, and let’s spend some time together,” and I spend six months straight with David Bowie at that time, the period with little breaks to go back to San Diego, but basically I was in this whirlwind with him in the period between “Young Americans” and “Station to Station.” And thank goodness I kept notes on every aspect of it. 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 it was an incredibly vital experience because he said, “You can do this story for whoever you want.”

So everybody wanted the story, so it was a great help for my career then. But the amazing thing that I come away with is that even then, which was kind of a wild period in his life, he was always obsessed with music and art and never the business. It was always a young artist had moved him. He would reach out to that artist. Bruce Springsteen was somebody that caught his attention on the first album. He was talking about Bruce Springsteen in 19 early stages of Bruce Springsteen’s career.

But the thing that I just wanted to say, over the last couple of days I’ve had a chance to really think about it. David Bowie’s impact is so huge in that he presents himself now as a role model to artists that may need to remember that it’s not about branding. It’s about a restless need to be creative and to continue being creative, and David Bowie was the antibranding artist, and for a young musician or artist of any kind, anybody coming up, it’s great to look to Bowie and see that seismic effect he’s had on people, not because he kept doing the same thing that worked again and again, but because he always shook it up and he always served the gods of creativity, and that was the lesson I got from him then and today.

“Roadies” is set to premiere on Showtime in 2016.  

READ MORE: Remembering David Bowie: 8 Films Now Streaming Online

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