Count Basil tupelo

Horror Host Mike Curtis as COUNT BASIL menacing a victim at "Sleep City Waterbed Outlet", Tupelo, MS circa - Late Seventies.

Don’t look for history here. This is a personal reminisinice.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes. That’s what was happening in my life and the world around me when David Bowie splashed into the local consciousness. Rural West Tennessee wasn’t too sophisticated. In fact, hippies started showing up around that time in Jackson Tennessee. Before that crewcuts were still mostly the norm.

I was newly married, and my best friend was Wally Hall, who worked at Ron’s Records. Bowie had a top 40 hit in CHANGES, and Wally got tickets to his first show at the auditorium in Memphis. My wife at the time, Wall and I went for both shows. The 700 one we had around tenth row seats, the 9 we had third row center.

Last time for THAT in Memphis.

This was the first musical concert I had ever seen, Even so, it stood out among others. David Bowie was accompanied by the Spiders from Mars, and introduced the audience to his world of futurepop.

And costumes. Not like later, but there was a tearaway suit, and I recall three costume changes. It was obvious that while Bowie was an excellent singer, he was a performer and actor first. The stories of the songs, such as Ziggy Stardust and other characters rang in the heads of the audiences and touched nerves.

And we learned the sad bad story of Major Tom, who went home.

We were now all Bowie fans. Not just us three. ALL of us. We had discovered something new. A Beautiful Stranger.

We were all Rebel Rebels, who went to the Memphis Flea Market, to find dozens of “bootleg” David Bowie albums. I was introduced to JOHN IM ONLY DANCING on one of those. The record seller admitted he couldn’t keep them in stock.

Wally, Sue and I began a habit. Each time Bowie would tour, we’d have tickets two nights in a row. Nashville one night, Memphis the next. The best seats we could get. One of those nights we heard Paul and Linda McCartney were in the audience, being in town for a recording date. That was confirmed years later, in the book LINDA’S PICTURES.

Success was good to Bowie. it enabled him to put on more and more elaborate shows. I think DIAMOND DOGS was the tour that set the bar so high. A ruined cityscape, with a balcony that came and flew over the audience with Bowie atop it. Or was it Alladin Sane? Or Ziggy Stardust? Or yet another Bowie persona? Bowie was the biggest mystery on stage, even more than that giant diamond that opened during the pagan dance number.

We were spoiled. I admit it.

We expected such effects and storylines, so that when Bowie became the Thin White Duke, we were all disappointed. A man in a suit singing.

Time went on. Bowie changed, but never backwards. We looked to artists like Gary Numan as the next Ziggy, but were disappointed. We broke apart, and headed across the globe.

I read once that if enough people believed in something, it would return.

By golly, a couple of years ago, there was Ziggy Stardust in a movie!

Not a bio pic, that would take a series.

No, it was the WATCHMEN. The opening sequence. In a world of real superheroes, Ozymandius reveals his secret identity to the world in front of a discotech. Afterwards he walks over to his friends standing behind him. Yes, there is Ziggy Stardust, still alive after all these years.

We old time Bowie fans still miss the Beautiful Stranger.

Mike Curtis October 2013