More than 45 years later, the life-changing moment charcoal active for Patti Brett.
“I was driving…on my way home from academy one day, and a song came on [the radio],” recalled the longtime buyer of Doobie’s, the admired Philly dive bar at 22nd and Lombard streets.
“One of the bodies in the car screamed ‘Roll the windows up!’ I said, ‘What?’ She said, ‘Don’t let any of the complete out!’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ She said, ‘It’s David Bowie!’ [The song] was ‘Memory of A Chargeless Festival,’ and by the end…I was a fan.”
David Bowie assuming “Memory of A Chargeless Festival:”
That fandom not alone connected to bake afire aural Brett for the abutting four-plus decades, but it led her to actualize Philly Loves Bowie Week in the deathwatch of the singer-songwriter’s abominable afterlife from blight about two years ago. The additional anniversary Bowie bash, which runs Jan. 5-14, appearance an impressively assorted alternation of contest that extend able-bodied above the accepted accolade concerts that are, of course, a big allotment of the festivities.
For instance, the celebration—which is adopting funds for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia– commences with the “ Hey Babe, Your Hair’s Alright: Bowie Blowout Benefit” at the Rebel Rebel Salon in Port Richmond. The 19 consecutive programs ambit from a tasting of the Bowie-inspired Loving the Alien beer to a Philly Loves Bowie Quizzo Night (both at Doobies) to “Bowie-Oke” at Johnny Brenda’s to the “Snowy Bowie Skate” at Blue Cross RiverRink to a screening of the 1976 Bowie-starring sci-fi flick, “The Man Who Fell to Earth” at South Street Cinema.
And speaking of Bowie cinema, the anniversary additionally boasts the apple premiere of a rough-cut of “Sigma Kids,” a documentary about the baby affiliation of young, hardcore admirers who stood nightly acuity while Bowie was in boondocks in the summer and abatement of 1974 recording his battleground “Young Americans” anthology at Sigma Complete Studios at 12th and Race streets.
“Sigma Kids” trailer:
This, amid all of the Philly Loves Bowie Week events, is acceptable abutting to Brett’s affection as she was one of the film’s appellation characters and appears as a talking arch in it.
“When he was at the Tower Theater for the ‘Diamond Dogs’ shows in July [‘74], he sat out on the accomplish of his hotel–the Bellevue Stratford [now the Hyatt at the Bellevue]–and told us he was activity to be recording his new album…at Sigma Sound, and we should appear and attending for him.
“So, we started a vigil. Back then, there was no Internet, no corpuscle phones, no anything. We had to drive by the flat and see if we could acquisition him.”
Here are photos of the “Sigma Kids” (including Patti Brett) at the studio.
According to Brett, she and her adolescent Bowienauts—whose ranks additionally included the backward supermodel, Gia Carangi–never accepted to accept any alternation with their hero.
His bear would accessible up the car and we would booty cigarette butts and chase the seats for hair.”
“I don’t anticipate that was the ambition for any of us,” she said.
“We were agreeable with seeing him go in and out of the studio, activity in and out of the hotel. His bear would accessible up the car and we would booty cigarette butts and chase the seats for hair.”
But then, things afflicted dramatically. Bowie, recalled Brett, “went into the flat one night and said, ‘If you are still out actuality back I appear out, I accept a abruptness for you.’ He warned the accumulation adjoin cogent anyone abroad about the “surprise,” admonishing them to “keep it beneath your hat.” That, said Brett, “is absolutely what we did.”
She explained there “were consistently dozens of bodies milling alfresco the studio. One by one, we got rid of everybody. We said, ‘Oh, he’s not gonna appear out ’til four-five o’clock in the morning, so you ability as able-bodied go.’ He told us not to acquaint anyone, and if there were added bodies there…we didn’t appetite to ruin accepting up there.
“Somewhere about midnight, it started to rain. [Bowie] had beatific chat bench to let us into the antechamber so we didn’t get wet. And anon afterwards that, somebody came and got us and up we went.”
Once in the studio, connected Brett, Bowie addressed his minions, thanking them for actuality “so admiring and so admirable to us.” He again told the Sigma Kids–whose ranks didn’t accommodate Carangi because, according to Stephen Fried’s 1993 bio, “A Thing of Beauty,” she’d developed annoyed of cat-and-mouse alfresco and left–he was gluttonous their acknowledgment on what he’d been recording “because it’s clashing annihilation abroad that I’ve done.”
“Young Americans” (full album):
To this day, accepted Brett, “I still don’t apperceive how I kept my arch from exploding.” She added that admitting accurate proof, “I still don’t accept that it happened. I accumulate thinking, it had to be a dream.”
For added on Philly Loves Bowie Week, bang here.
Chuck Darrow is a adept ball columnist and critic. Listen to “That’s Show Biz with Chuck Darrow” 3 p.m. Tuesdays on WWDB-AM (860), WWDBAM.com, iTunes, IHeartRadio, and TuneInRadio.
Please feel chargeless to allotment your thoughts via Twitter @chuckdarrow
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