David Bowie would have turned 75 today; or, to put it another way, this is the 75th anniversary of the birth of David Robert Jones in Brixton, London, England, Earth. (It is also the 87th anniversary of the birth of Elvis Aron Presley in Tupelo, Mississippi, and the 91st of the birth of Wulf Wolodia Grajonca in Berlin, Germany. I could go on but I won’t. This is a popular day to be born for some reason.)
Lately I’ve been reading the graphic novel Bowie, a sincere if sometimes clumsy account of David’s rise to fame. Early on there’s a scene where his manager Ken Pitt, with an episode of The Monkees playing in the background, convinces him that he needs to change his name to avoid confusion with Davy Jones. Just one problem with that: David R. Jones became David Bowie in 1965; the first episode ofThe Monkees was not broadcast until September 1966.
It is true that future Monkee David Thomas Jones had already made a name for himself as the Artful Dodger in a production of the musical Oliver! in London and then Broadway, as well as several appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show. So, maybe that really was the reason. But I think it’s worth noting that Bob Dylan’s song “Ballad of a Thin Man” had appeared on his album Highway 61 Revisited, released in late August 1965. I can easily imagine young David hearing the words
Something’s happening, but you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mr. Jones?
And freaking right out. Who would want to be Mr. Jones after that?
Here’s Bob doing the song in 1966:
I’ll bet David was at one of the shows on that tour. Even if he didn’t have the money, he would have found a way.
And that’s all the time we have for today. Just dropped in to say Happy Birthday to David and everybody else. Carry on.
The Mr. Jones of Counting Crows fame was in the E-Line Fantasy Basketball League 1 season (shout out to 2 time defending champs The Runnin’ Buddhas), he was over our place one day and went through our CD collection until he found the Counting Crows 1st CD, he pulled it from the wall and said to me, “that’s me”. I still regret not asking him who he wanted to be that was “a little more funky” than Bob Dylan? His team name was Basketball Jones so that checks out, but I digress, Happy Birthday to David Bowie/Jones, Wulf/Bill, Elvis and everyone else whose birthday is today.