It’s no secret that I love late 70’s and early 80’s music. Its no secret that I love David Bowie. So, my ideal Saturday night (whilst in lockdown) was perfect yesterday. BBC2 started the night with The 80’s with Dominic Sandbrook, followed by Top of the pops: The story of 1980. But it didn’t stop there. The much-anticipated programme, Blitzed was on Sky Arts at 9pm followed by David Bowie’s glass spider tour. I know I have found my tribe when almost everyone on my Facebook is talking about it.
What a fantastic programme. Rusty (the one and only) told his story of how he and Steve Strange started Blitz. It was a club for the strange, the weird, those who had style and knew how to turn an old charity shop item into something unique. Those who used make up as an art form. It was great to hear Rusty tell it and hear details many would not know. It also featured Boy George and Robert Elms who both told their stories. Sadly, Steve Strange is no longer with us, but there was lots of footage of him speaking and a dedication at the end of the programme. It did paint the 70’s as very bland and dull, and yes I do remember the piles of rubbish left in the street as I walked to school, but didn’t really understand why. However, from 1979, for me the true start of the 80’s, were a time of vivid technicolour. It felt like in The Wizard of Oz from when Dorothy goes from black and white into a new exciting and vibrant world of colour. That’s exactly how it was for me. I loved dressing up, looking different. Have people in the street stare at you. The worst insult you can call me is normal. I knew I was different. Finding Blitz and the local clubs that started up around the country such as Rum Runner in Birmingham and The Starting Gate in Milton Keynes, meant I was with my kind of people. It’s the reason that for the last eight years I have travelled to Birmingham to attend Only After Dark, a club based on The Blitz.
However, and yes, I am going to say it, none of this would exist without Bowie. Bowie was a huge influence. For those who saw the Starman performance on Top Of The Pops, it changed lives. Can you imagine going to a club with a group of people who love and listen to Bowie, and then one night, he just turns up at the door and not only is he uber cool, but he is looking for a couple of people for his next video? Boy George said he was the only one not running after Bowie, quickly followed up by Robert Elms who said he had never seen Boy George move so quickly to get near Bowie. I am sure Steve Strange loved being in the video and what an iconic video it is. Ashes to Ashes was cutting edge when it came out. And it was good to see Kraftwerk acknowledged too. Kraftwerk’s sound is so distinctive and even Bowie himself was impressed. Just listen to Station to Station.
But let’s get back to Blitzed. It wasn’t just about a look, although Steve wanted and encouraged people to dress up. Steve even turned away Mick Jagger from the Rolling Stones. It wasn’t about who you were – but what you embodied and the music. Definitely about the music. Gary Kemp told how they became the ‘house band’ at the Blitz. I am of course, talking about Spandau Ballet. The show also featured Marilyn who was beautiful and is still the envy of many men today (just look at that head of hair!). Why they had La Roux on was puzzling. She wasn’t born at the time and said her mum wasn’t into Bowie and they weren’t a Bowie family. HOLD THE PHONE! WHAT?!! Her contribution could easily have been edited out – it added nothing to the show. Now don’t get me wrong, I think her voice is angelic and she has a fabulous style, but she didn’t add anything relevant. This is a show about Blitzed. If they were trying to show how its influence is still present today – then they missed the mark with La Roux.
Midge Ure said how great a drummer Rusty was. But I know him as a DJ and I can say without any bias, that he is an outstanding DJ. I get up and dance when he is playing. Rusty has compiled a Blitzed soundtrack which you can hear on Spotify or download it on Amazon.
Midge, Rusty and Steve formed Visage. And you should know the rest. My love of Blitz and its fashion and music have not faded to grey.