When Trevor Bolder died earlier this year I was transported back to my school days when at the age of 15 I played The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust And the Spiders Of Mars literally dozens of times. Famous for his massive side burns as much as his powerful bass playing, it didn’t occur to me at the time that a down to earth Yorkshire man might be uncomfortable in a latex jump suit.
Everyone was wearing crazy clothes during the dawn of glam but not everyone was making such creative music as Bowie. Bolder replaced Tony Visconti in Bowie’s backing band and this would prove to be (along with Mick Ronson and Woody Woodmansey) his real breakthrough as the trio along with Rick Wakeman on keyboards and Ken Scott producing, recorded arguably one of Bowie’s best ever albums – Hunky Dory. The fact that Bowie ended up with a band from the East Riding of Yorkshire instead of London is an odd twist of fate. Rick Wakeman left and eventually joined Yes – but that is another story.
Hunky Dory was the ultimate art rock album, from the Marlene Dietrich inspired cover to the imaginative lyrics and Bowie’s compelling voice, name checking Warhol, Dylan, Lennon, Greta Garbo, Brigitte Bardot, Winston Churchill and Mickey Mouses and including songs about Nietsche, as well as the enigmatic Bewlay Brothers – a whole host of fascinating characters. Although it took the success of Ziggy to turn new Bowie fans back to Hunky Dory, a year after its release it made the top 3 in the British charts. It also spawned one of the great British songs, also a hit in 1973, the amazing Life On Mars. This is Bowie’s Comme D’habitude (As Usual) written by Claude Francois and Jaques Revaux in 1967, and translated by Paul Anka as My Way. The jury is still out as to whether Trevor Bolder or Tony Visconti actually played bass on this song.
Unfortunately we don’t get to see Trevor Bolder in this video but he went onto play on 4 official studio Bowie albums including Aladdin Sane and Pin Ups. He also played on the famous 1972 Santa Monica Civic Bootleg later officially released, as well as the memorable final Ziggy Stardust concert at Hammersmith Odeon, where Bowie announced the band’s final gig, allegedly without telling the band beforehand.
After Bowie and apart from one album with Wishbone Ash, Trevor Bolder spent most of the rest of his life playing with Uriah Heep. I saw them play at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney in 2012. It was rather a special night because Uriah Heep were the first band I ever saw back in 1973/74. They played all the songs you want to hear, Gypsy, Easy Livin’ and a whole lot more. Trevor Bolder was a powerhouse and a crucial part of any band’s sound from the heady days with Bowie to the more down to earth days with Uriah Heep. I met Mick Box after the Sydney show, but sadly not Trevor Bolder. Unfortunately I’m not able to find any decent footage of Uriah Heep with Bolder on the net.
Go here to read the obituary form The Guardian:
Trevor Bolder and Woody Woodmansey (The Spiders From Mars bass player and drummer 40 years later).
(Photo David Parry/PA)