Baby boomers everywhere remember when a strange artist hit American airwaves with some captivatingly strange tunes. Songs like “Space Oddity”, “Ziggy Stardust”, “Suffragette City”, “Changes”, “Rebel Rebel”, “1984” and a whole slew of otherworldly songs.
Of course, I’m talking about David Bowie. And, if you were an awe-struck teen like I was then, you’d know that he and his then-wife, Angela, were taking the media world by a storm with their application of non-comformity in every area of their lives. Their lack of convention and their thumbing of their noses at societal norms captivated us all.
Married in early 1970, Angela and David’s marriage ended with the decade of the seventies. So then, Angie has been a prolific author, actress, and recording artist. One of the books she’s written is her 1993 book, Backstage Passes. I had recently re-read the tome and instinctively reached out to her for an interview.
It turned out to be quite serendipitous because she is in the midst of re-recording the audio version of the book as well as re-releasing the print version of it as well as other of her work.
Over the course of two phone conversations and notes back and forth, Angie and I chatted about what she’s been up to and what is about to be released. Reaching her at her home in the Southwestern U.S., she was immediately gracious and warmly welcoming.
We started out about comparing notes about living in the Knoxville, Tennessee, area, Atlanta traffic, and the arid southwest. Commenting about her time in the suburban-Atlanta burg of Acworth, she said:
“It was lovely. We had a great time there. I lived in Acworth very comfortably without going into Atlanta, except maybe once or twice a year because I really have no time for that (heavy traffic). No, I'm not interested in dying in a traffic jam or a traffic crash. I have to be convenient and Acworth was convenient. It was wonderful. Everything was there within - at the furthest - six or seven miles. More like three miles in perimeter. You know what I mean? So, I had a good time. We stayed at that house for two years. It was so comfortable and so convenient.”
I told her that I had experienced Atlanta gridlock for the Rolling Stones’ 2015 show there. She commented:
“So, while I like the Rolling Stones, I'm happy to watch them on TV and listen to them on radio or record. I have no desire to be part of the claustrophobia of going to a live concert. I wouldn't even consider it. I've never seen the Stones ever. Never. I have no interest whatsoever. I can see them perfectly well on television or in a movie. I really don't need to go and, you know, be hot and start to feel faint. F*** that.
Shifting our attention to her time in the Knoxville area and why I wanted to chat with her, Angela shared:
“I have to say to you, Randy, that your providence is enticing. We had the most wonderful time in Tennessee. Michael (Angela’s current husband) and I - we lived there for a year. And just outside of - we lived in a fabulous place, Tellico Village, which was 30 miles from the job site. The job site was in Alcoa.
“We found the people to be so charming and so wonderful. We had an absolutely magical year there. And, so, when I saw it on Facebook all the different things that you did. I wasn't surprised when it turned out that you had a blog. You know what I mean? You asked me to do it because - I don't often care sometimes for particular locations, but it has nothing to do with the people.”
During our second chat, Bowie added: “I don't have so much experience, you know, with the United States because I lived outside of the United States for so long. It's taken me 20 - 25 years living with Michael, to get a grip on all the various different parts and the relevance of those parts where we've lived as part of his job. And so, yeah, but when you mentioned that, I thought, yeah. Knoxville is such a lovely place. We really had a good time there.”
“You know, Acworth was perfect. It was so convenient. It was amazing. It really was. Tennessee was an absolute - it was gorgeous. The people were lovely. You know, we had a great time there. And, so, I just I took it as written that we would do this and that it would be fabulous. And I so appreciate you asking me. There it is: synchronicity, and it's very cool.”
Shifting the subject to her 1993 book, Backstage Passes, Angie said:
“I'm delighted to talk to you about Backstage Passes, because there's all kinds of great news about it. It's a been out of print for a while. And as of the last couple of weeks, we've done a deal with some guys in England who are going to do the e-book. Then, we'll be putting out the print version. I've already in the middle of doing the audio book. So, this will all tie-up and I would think that Backstage Passes in three or four different formats - E-book, audio book and print version of the book will be available by the end of October. I'm very excited about that!
“It's been out of print since I did Celebrity Big Brother as they sold out. And that was a reissue. It's done extremely well. And that was a reissue. And they sold every book they had, and I thought, well, you know, maybe it would be a good idea to hold back and not let them pick up that again. Now I've got the rights returned to me and now we're anxious to make a bigger splash with it. 2016 was when they sold out of those and in January and now it'll be coming up to 2020 when we're able to put the book out again.
“Because of Celebrity Big Brother, because of the surname. It's not like they can't place me. They know who I am and they either like me or they don't. If they don't like me, they're not going to read the article anyway.
“Every year was filled with all the things that I did in those first eight, nine years, and we were able to produce and delivered eleven albums in those eight years. Eleven!
“It was breathtaking how hard everybody worked. You know, we had a costume factory at Haddon Hall with Freddie Burretti and the people that he got into work with him.
“There was a rehearsal room downstairs. They would rehearse. They would go off to the west end and go into the studio. Then they would go out on tour. It was extraordinarily busy and interesting.”
With Backstage Passes having been out 26 years now - and the passing of David Bowie almost four years ago - I asked if there have been any repercussions or change of view towards her in recent years.
“Oh, I don't really pay much attention to it. I haven't really. I've been too busy writing other books. I'm not the slightest bit interested, but it is a useful revenue stream for one's retirement. So, you take it seriously. I had to start thinking about the fact that it is wanted by an audience and when an audience want something then - if you're a marketer, and a promoter, and a writer like I am, then you have to pay attention, you know what I mean?
“You know, I recently had an offer from someone in England for the e-book of it. That enables us to put out the print version. I'm also doing the audio version, so. There it is, in three formats, Backstage Passes will be alive and well by the end of November. So, this is a good thing.
I asked Angie if there was anything, she wished she had done differently in the book.
“No. That's how I am.”
Anyone who has ever experienced a divorce knows that there is more than a marriage that is divided. There are outside relationships that are affected, as well. During our second call, I asked Ms. Bowie if she had lost any friends as a result of her divorce from David.
“To be honest with you, Randy, I haven't even thought about it. The people that David and I were friendly with were basically in England or New York or Los Angeles. And I don't really have much interest in those kinds of large cities. I didn't really even notice it, to be honest.
“I knew that when we got divorced, I was quite young. I was, I think, 29 or 30. And I really didn't expect much more because I knew that people would get a line out to prove their solidarity today. That happened a lot. People did that a lot. I really didn't care. You know, I expected it. So, I guess I buttoned it up and refused to even think about it.
“It is another system of the protocol of divorce. If they don't line up with the other partner, they don't feel like they joined in the divorce proceeding. I just I wasn't going to get involved because I thought to myself, 'Would you really care about losing a friend who is so fair weather that they're going to side with David . . . who wants friends like that?’ I think it's the nature of human beings. I think that if they got the opportunity of being judgmental, then, oh, good! Let's get judgmental! Let's rave on about whose fault it must've been!' - whether they know or not, they just listen to a bunch of propaganda and go for it.”
In conclusion, Angela said, “Like I said, I didn't pay too much attention to it because I thought - I suspected that it would occur, and I really thought that's not worth wasting time on. It had to be a normal repercussion of divorce.”
In Backstage Passes, Bowie shared an incredible story about a paranormal experience at a home she and David were renting. You’ll have to read the book for the details of it. I asked her if she experienced anything like that since.
“No, I think I've experienced some stuff like that before that. As a young schoolgirl in Switzerland, from 9 to 16, there were some extraordinary events that occurred. No, no, I never experienced anything since then, but I had experienced a few things like that before.”
She continued, “I try not to be too concerned if I can't fathom stuff. My mother was sort of instrumental in that. She would say, ‘Well, reserve judgement.’ I would keep saying that. I'd think, 'OK, I'll reserve judgment.' And she was very instinctive and intuitive about people and I was also.
“So sometimes - she just - there was certain people she would not deal with. She would not go to functions where they were going to attend or anything like that. And she said that, you know, it's better to stay away. That was why - even though it was bizarre and ‘out there’, I thought, ‘Well, what are you doing within yourself that you are bringing this kind of strangeness into our lives?’ And I really just kind of let it go at that.”
Then, with a bit of humor, she concluded: “You know, I kept thinking to myself, 'Well, this is a good omen for me to get the f*** out.' You know, I really had no interest in standing around and watching all that kind of weirdness. I was like, 'Oooo! F*** this! I'm out of here.'”
We then shifted our conversation to Angela’s other, more current pursuits.
“Well, I decided that I was going to do audio versions of some of the books that I have written recently. So, Lipstick Legends has become an audio book. We're doing another audio version of Backstage Passes. There was one done years ago at the same time in the early 90s when Backstage Passes came out. But we're doing an audio - another one - because the company that had the rights to doing the Backstage Passes audio book has gone out of business and so there are no further copies available. So, we decided that we would go ahead and rerecord that.
“I'm also doing an audio book of Pop Sex because it's one of my most favorite books that I've written. And it's a really romping tale through history of just how church and state have dominated the sexual lives of their citizens and how that became a power tool and a power lever in and of itself.
“In the meantime, we have some new stuff coming out. I'm very excited, Michael and I've been thrilled to be involved in this. Rick Hunt worked with us on Catastrophe. And my book of lyrics and poetry, Fancy Footwork. And we had always said that we wanted to do a book of his art.
“Gaucho Visions is the first of four or five projected books of his art. And it's turned out magnificently. He's very, very happy. So, on the 5th of October, we will be launching Gaucho Visions. And, then, before Christmas - it's Gaucho Visions Part One and Gaucho Visions Part Two will come out, hopefully, before Christmas. There's no hopefully about it. It will come out before Christmas. And, then, I've been working on so many other things. I mean, literally there is a list that's about two pages long and so I'm working on all of that as well.
As if that’s not enough to keep her busy, she added:
“I've got Take Out Your Troubles, which is a song that Chico (Rey) and I recorded about five years ago. I was in Los Angeles about a month ago and I went to see my pal, Larry Treadwell, and I said to him that we were going to take Take Out Your Troubles and do a remake, a remix. Well, a remix, a final mix which we had never actually done and mastered the tune because I wanted to have a track contribute to the GoFundMe for Chico Rey's medical expenses.
“Larry unbelievably managed to pull it out in 10 days, and he took care of it all. When I got to L.A., he had the track for me, and it sounds incredible. So, we'll also have some new music. And I've got a new album which is recorded already, but I'm going to do the same thing with that - is to do the final mixes and the mastering. And that will come out in 2020. It is called, Sterling Moon Lynx, which is a name that was bestowed upon me by Rick and Carolyn Hunt - an Indian name, an Avanaki name. I decided that that was it was so impressive that I would just use it as the title for the album.”
As I often do when I’ve chatted with an icon from my youth, I reflect on their life, their contributions, and the experience I’ve had during my conversation with them. It was no different after my visits with Angela Bowie. We often think that they live on a different plain that us mere mortals. Yet, they, too, are mere mortals who know that life is short and that, like us, are responsible for making the most of it. Angie is certainly still doing that.
I encourage you to keep up with Angela and her latest work by visiting AngelaBowie.net. You can order her books by ordering through her website or by clicking on the ads on this page.