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Posts Tagged ‘David Bowie’

In the past few years, I’ve done portraits of famous musicians and icons, such as David Bowie, Lemmy Kilmister, Quentin Crisp, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Elizabeth Taylor, Wendy O Williams, and a few others. My focus are on those who had some sort of impact on my psyche, whether it’s small or significant.

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Which brings me to Marc Bolan. My introduction to the ’70s Glam band T Rex was through covers by Bauhaus, Violent Femmes, The Power Station, Siouxsie and The Banshees, etc. Being curious, I decided to go straight to the source.

Recently came the news that T Rex is going to be an inductee into the 2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Usually I don’t give a rat’s ass about who’s been included. Being part of Gen X, I should’ve been happy for Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails. Instead I’ll wait to rejoice when Kraftwerk gets in. I’m always that one person who goes against the grain.

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For those who don’t know who Marc Bolan is, here goes. Marc Bolan, real name Marc Feld. His father was an Askenazi Jew, his mother English. Marc was born for the showbiz life. He first appeared as an extra on the British television show Orlando as a Mod. Age nine he was given his first guitar, and his life course was set. After being expelled from school at the age of 15, he tried modelling. It’s rumored he was bisexual, piling his trade as a ‘rent boy.’ In 1964, Marc met his first manager. The result was one of Bolan’s professional recordings. The track was in the style of U.K. teen idol Cliff Richard. Marc soon moved on to a second manager. He had changed his style, adopting a Boho-chic look. The contract was later sold to a landlord to back off back rent, in which the contract was later destroyed. In 1965, Marc signed Decca Records. It was this point Marc switched his stage name to Marc Bolan. Two Decca released singles went nowhere. In 1966, British music producer Simon Napier-Bell, met Bolan, listening to Bolan’s claims about how he was going to be a ‘big star.’ Napier-Bell was managing The Yardbirds at that point. He put Bolan in the band John’s Children, which had some success. It was short-lived, so Marc had to reconstruct his plans for stardom. Influenced by fantasy and romance, he came back with the first formation of T Rex, originally known as Tyrannosaurus Rex

Tyrannosaurus Rex gained a cult following among the U.K.’s Hippie subculture, releasing four Psychedelic-Folk-Rock albums. However, Marc wanted more. Despite charting success, percussionist Steve Peregrin Took was terminated due to drug use. Tyrannosaurus Rex then developed into T Rex, adding electric to the sound. Took was replaced with Mickey Finn on the bongos.

1970 saw the release of the rebooted formation with the self titled album T Rex. As the cliche goes, the rest is history. Marc reinvented himself yet again, setting the bar for what would be known as ‘Glam Rock.’

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. This also synchronized with David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust era. In fact, both T Rex and Bowie worked with the same music producer, American Tony Visconti and the same manager, Les Conn. Hippies were replaced with teenage fans as Marc performed on stage wearing satin and glitter. This is the iconic T Rex everyone knows. At one point T Rex was as huge as The Beatles over in his native country. T Rex did have success over in the U.S., with the top 40 hit ‘Bang A Gong’, but never as massive as they were back in the U.K. With releases such as Electric Warrior and The Slider, the band was rumored to be selling 100,000 records a day.

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What’s up with these ’70s rock stars wearing pants a certain way?

It really should be noted that Marc would probably never had the success if it wasn’t for his wife, June Ellen Child. June Child already had connections within the British music industry, and was instrumental in T Rex’s success. Finally Marc achieved the rock star status he so desired.

The wave continued to ride high, appearing in Ringo Starr’s film, Born To Boogie. After the album Tanx in 1973, the success T Rex had started to taper off. His marriage was disintegrating too. Marc found new love with American R&B singer Gloria Jones. Jones has her own interesting history. She was involved with Motown. Finding success in the U.K., she was the Queen of  the Northern Soul movement. Most importantly, Jones was the original vocalist for the song Tainted Love, later made internationally famous by ’80s New Wave band Soft Cell.

Marc and Gloria’s paths first crossed in 1969. It wasn’t until 1972, when Jones got a gig as T Rex’s backup singer.  You can guess the rest, as Jones and Bolan became romantically involved. Out of that union, Jones gave birth to their only son, Rolan Bolan in 1975. By that time, Bolan’s star was fading. He had gained a bit of weight, acquired a drug habit, and record sales slowly declined. Jones and Bolan continued to collaborate. In 1975 Jones did background vocals for the T Rex album Bolan’s Zip Gun. Unfortunately the tenth studio album did poorly, only being released in the U.K. (The American version was Light of Love, released on then new Casablanca record label) Another pairing for Jones’ 1976 album Vixen. Jones continued her tenure with T Rex with the albums Futuristic Dragon and Dandy In The Underworld.

Marc’s luck turned around in 1977, when he landed his own variety show on Granada Television. Now this synchronized with the imminent U.K. Punk movement. (The Damned opened up for T Rex on a later British tour) Marc had a few appearances from bands like The Jam and Generation X (with future ’80s New Wave superstar Billy Idol). Thin Lizzy also did a guest spot on Marc. The rest was littered with local performers, never to be heard from again. David Bowie was the most significant delegate, with a spot on the last Marc episode. Bowie was both a rival and a friend – but later proved himself to be a loyal friend as we’ll find out later.

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Marc was renewed by Granada, but the next season never came to be. After celebrating on September 16, 1977, Marc and Gloria got into a car crash. Jones was the driver of the Mini 1275GT. While Jones survived, Bolan died instantly. Marc Bolan was only two weeks from his 30th birthday.

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While the funeral was taking place, Gloria Jones was hospitalized in a coma. When she came to, to her horror she discovered the home she had shared with Marc had been looted dry. Matters were further complicated because Bolan never divorced his estranged wife June. This meant that Bolan’s assets was tied up, freezing out both Jones and child. Skipping the U.K. legal inquiry over the car crash, Jones and son returned back to Los Angles, California. Jones continued to be involved with the music industry, but destitute. This is where David Bowie comes into play. Bowie just happened to be the godfather to Rolan Bolan. Refusing to let Rolan suffer, Bowie stepped in providing financial assistance, paying for Rolan’s education. It was all due to Bowie’s loyalty towards friendship he shared with Marc Bolan. It wasn’t until June Child’s death in Back in the U.K., a plaque was placed where the crash occurred. For decades, the site has, become a small pilgrimage to T Rex fans.

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Over the years, people have held torches in Marc’s memory. Marc On Wax was a label run by two former heads of Bolan’s fan club. Most importantly, the influence Marc and T Rex had continues. As mentioned earlier, many late ’70s/’80s Post-Punk and Alternative bands have covered many a T Rex ditty.

As for Gloria, she later co-founded with the Light of Love Foundation UK, a music school in Sierra Leone, West Africa named in honor of Marc. Called Marc Bolan School Of Music, it gives children opportunities to learn all facets of music and film. Oh, and in 2007, she did a duet with Marc Almond once on a U.K. stage performing Tainted Love.

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Gloria Jones and Marc Almond on stage. 2007.

Honestly, I don’t know why there’s hasn’t been a biopic film about Marc. If they can do one on Freddie Mercury and Elton John, surely they can do one on Marc. I digress.

Now that you’ve read more about Marc Bolan than you originally wanted to, here’s my portrait of him, just in time for his induction into the class of 2020, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Hand drawn, pen, ink and watercolor. There’s a tiny bit of sheen and glimmer with the watercolor, but I don’t think Marc would’ve minded. Here’s a little Marc in your heart.

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Marc Bolan. Pen, ink, watercolor. Illustration by Michele Witchipoo. Completed March 2020.

 

 

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Really didn’t do another David Bowie blog post. Thought that was done once I visited the Bowie exhibit over at the Brooklyn Museum. Unfortunately, everything has been really busy lately. Once I had some free time, the first three days was spent sleeping in and whatnot. Now that I’m back blog posting, there’s art to upload, concerts to semi-review, etc. It’s Friday as of this post. So it doesn’t make sense to finally post a new Psycho Bunny sketch of the week. Those entries are usually online from Monday to Wednesday, most likely Monday. So let’s go back a few months to when the Brooklyn Museum and Spotify had a massive clever promotion at the Broadway-Lafayette subway station. In addition you could score your own limited edition Bowie Metrocards. Currently I have the complete set in my possession.

It also gave me a chance to take some selfies with my freshly dyed hair, thanks to Second Star salon. Usually I do my own hair, but hey. My friend has some serious skills.

Basically the entire subway station at Broadway-Lafayette/Bleecker Street was covered with Bowie. Hopped on the 6 train. Upon arrival, there it was.

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Here’s some more photos of the Bowie-fied station. Slightly reminded me of Christiane F, when she used to hang around Zoo station in Berlin. All was needed was Warszawa playing in the background. Only it’s gentrified NYC 2018 with no junkies in sight.

It was time to collect those Bowie subway Metrocards. People were lining up at the token booth. How it went was, most of the cards was in the self-service machines. However, to avoid wasting your money with random cards, you could also buy the card you needed at the booth. Luckily the machine gave me one of each, and only needed to buy one card from the token booth to complete my set.

As I was getting most of the Bowie cards from the self service machines, a tourist was looking over my shoulder, watching what Bowie cards I was receiving. Then some Japanese film crew came over, interviewing me about my purchases. They filmed me getting one of the final cards. That same Japanese crew then interviewed some man who told them he couldn’t be bothered doing the physical random purchase; so he already brought a complete set from eBay for $200. Must be nice to have money to burn. When the tourist wanted to do a Metrocard trade, that was my cue to take a break. Too many people were hovering over those Metrocard dispensers. Even though for the most part, it was peaceful.

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The display inside the subway station was still nothing compared to the actual exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum.

A few days later, I just happened to find a book in the street. It was a Bowie biography. Barely read, near the stairs of some apartment building. Right in my own Queens neighborhood. That was some synchronicity.

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That should cap off the Bowie posts for now. Next week I’ll return with some brand new Psycho Bunny sketches of the week.

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Inside the Brooklyn Musuem for the Bowie Is exhibit. Photo taken by Natasha Michalina, July 2018.

On Sunday, July 15th 2018, the Bowie Is exhibit wrapped up it’s five year tour at the Brooklyn Museum. Since the V&A traveling exhibit began in 2013, it has visited four continents, twelve museums, and attracted 1.8 million viewers. It was Bowie’s personal request that the touring exhibit end in New York City, where he spent the last twenty years of his life.

I was lucky to have caught this exhibit during its last week at the Brooklyn Museum. Advanced tickets were completely sold out. The alternative was to wake up at the crack of dawn, just to get in line before the doors open. Right before 11 am, the line was starting to feel like general admission to a concert rather than an exhibit.

Luck was on my side last Wednesday. I was able to get in for the 12 afternoon showing.

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My ticket for the special Bowie Is exhibit inside the Brooklyn Museum. July 2018.

First of all, the exhibit itself is far from any form of hero worship. It showed almost every era of Bowie’s career. While the initial attraction was seeing his stage outfits up close, it was the breakdown of his creative process that stood out. Handwritten lyrics, rough sketches of stage design, storyboards, scripts, all documents showing behind the scenes.

One example was the “cut-up technique“, originally created by Tristan Tzara, and brought into the public consciousness by Brion Gysin. Bowie, being a William S. Burroughs fan, used the cut-up method on and off in various stages of his recording career. In 1995, Bowie took this a step further when creating lyrics for his Outsider album. He used a custom program called the Verbasizer on his Mac computer, shown during the Bowie Is exhibit.

That’s only one clue what the exhibit had to offer. Entering the exhibit, it was a bit overwhelming at first. There’s a helluva lot to take in. In all, the entire exhibit took three hours to complete.

Apparently Bowie was a huge literature fan. He took a trunk of his favorite books on tour with him, since he was an avid reader. Bowie was huge into German Expressionism at one point, which showed up in his own paintings, also on display. Bowie was more of a polymath than the public realized. At one point Bowie tried creating his own tarot deck. It was for his own private use, inserted into film slide frames. The personal project was never completed, only going as far as most of the major arcana. Unless if that was what Bowie had intended.

 Bowie was also an actor, art collector, collaborator, world traveler, well, perhaps just an overall innovator. But we all knew that last part.

After spending three hours in the Bowie Is exhibit, I was literally too exhausted to check out the rest of the Brooklyn Museum. A few days later, I drew something from Bowie’s Thin White Duke era. (A few years back, I had already did something from his Ziggy/Aladdin Sane era)

So which leads us to…yes, you guessed it. The Psycho Bunny sketch of the week. Psycho Bunny as The Thin White Duke.

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David Bowie during his Thin White Duke era, mid-70s.

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Psycho Bunny as David Bowie during his Thin White Duke era. Based on the comic written and drawn by Michele Witchipoo, on WitchesBrewPress. July 2018.

Here we go. The usual promotional hints:

Facebook: pages for Psycho Bunny and for Michele Witchipoo – WitchesBrewPress. Just put new widgets for both FB pages on this blog.

 Twitter: One account for me, and one for Psycho Bunny.

Tumblr: World Ov Witchipoo

Instagram: there’s WitchipooArt.

Get yourself some cool stuff on RedBubble, featuring my designs. There’s dresses, tee shirts, notebooks, etc. The notebooks, and the Quentin Crisp tees seems to be one of the best selling items.

One of my hobbies is documenting what goes riding the NYC subway lines: My WildlifeOnTheMTA Instagram is active once again.

Come back next week for a new Psycho Bunny sketch.

Additional Links: 

https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2018/03/17/594326984/what-you-could-take-away-from-david-bowie-is

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/david-bowies-secret-life-inside-the-stunning-david-bowie-is-exhibit-in-brooklyn-202335/

 

 

Special thanks to Natasha Michalina, who let me use her photos. Cellphone pics weren’t allowed, but she was brave enough to sneak a few. 

 

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Over time I’ve dabbled in handmade crafts, such as with jewelry, hair clips and such. Just never did the craft market thing, despite its popularity within the past few years.

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Costume jewelry. Created summer 2014. 

In late 2014 I took the jump into making greeting cards, starting with Krampus. That went over pretty well, so in 2015, I expanded not just with designing other greeting card designs but creating handcrafted Krampus ornaments.

As you can guess, I’m expanding the greeting cards and ornaments even further. This year there’s going to be a bit more variety with the Krampus ornaments, and possibly creating new designs, as with one for David Bowie.

Okay, so 2016 was technically a crappy year. Personally it wasn’t bad for me, but in general let’s just say it sucked. So perhaps these new items might bring some much needed cheer.

If you’re interested in ordering any of the items: greeting cards are $3.00. Ornaments start at $3.00, but most of them are $5.00 and up. Not including S&H, which is an additional $3.00 (unless it’s international). PayPay accepted online. Send me an email to order, and to calculate S&H.

Below are photos to give you an ideal of what I’ve made. More forthcoming. In addition to these new items, I’ve also whipped up a new batch of the red glitter Krampus ornaments. These will be available both online and in future comic cons. The next comic con coming up is a local one. Catland’s Crimson Hand Comic Arts on Saturday Dec. 3rd, in Bushwich, Brooklyn. Free admission starting at 1pm.

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Put together this card back in 2014, using an illustration from 2013. Decided to finally print in 2016. Available for purchase. Design by Michele Witchipoo. 

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The website Dangerous Minds, which I’ve been following for years, did an article on the Bowie and Lemmy coloring books. If you scroll down, the article shows the Bowie (Aladdin Sane) piece I had submitted for the book.

http://dangerousminds.net/comments/color_me_impressed_lemmy_and_david_bowie-themed_coloring_books_are_here

You can order your own coloring books here.

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Two of my illustrations have been published by Feral House for their coloring book series. One for David Bowie, and the other for Lemmy Kilmister. Both of these new releases are available for purchase now from the website.

For the Lemmy submission, I including Wendy O Williams from The Plasmatics. Lemmy and Wendy did a duet together, a cover of ‘Stand By Your Man.’ The Bowie one I’ve simply titled ‘Saint Bowie.’

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Two of my illustrations have been published by Feral House for their coloring book series. One for David Bowie, one for Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead). Sept. 2016.

I’ve been a fan of Feral House publishing for years. Have quite a number of FH books in my collection. So to get into this book series means a great deal to me. So if you’re a fan of either musicians or rather icons, you might want to get these books.

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Announcing new greeting cards from WitchesBrewPress now available for sale.

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David Bowie from Aladdin Sane era. Greeting card by Michele Witchipoo. July 2016.

The current favorite is my Bowie card. Based on the Aladdin Sane era.

For those into classic film stars, here’s one of Elizabeth Taylor. Besides, Marilyn Monroe has been done too many times.

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Elizabeth Taylor greeting card by Michele Witchipoo. July 2016.

There’s two other new additions to the line. One uses an original illustration I created, the other one is Wendy O Williams from The Plasmatics.

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New greeting cards from WitchesBrewPress, created and designed by Michele Witchipoo. July 2016. Available for purchase now. 

All greeting cards come with an envelope and cellophane wrapping. The cards are blank inside, because I discovered people prefer to write their own messages. Each card is $4.25 which includes S&H. It’s $3.00 if brought in person at one of my comic con/art appearances. (The additional $1.25 is to cover shipping and PayPal costs) If you can’t wait for the website store to update, you can always send me payment online via PayPal. Just specify which card you want, and send the payment to PsychoBunnyComix@aol.com

Previous greeting card designs are still available. Steampunk Cthulhu and Krampus are the two most popular. Next on arrival should be Prince and assorted holiday designs. Most likely Halloween, Christmas and Winter Solstice. The Valentine cards such as Lemmy Kilmister and Wendy O Williams are still available. The Lemmy/Wendy one was going to be limited edition, but they’ve proven popular so they stayed.

The new cards will make their debut this Sunday at the East Hampton Comic Extravaganza. You can also catch me in Boston in October. Details forthcoming.

 

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