David Bowie and The Spiders play Five Years on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1972, in a clip that I have never seen before till today. This is an extension of the last post about Suede, as Bowie became such an obsession as an individual for so many people – and of course he was a spectacular artist – but I always loved the band.
The genius that is Mick Ronson on lead guitar (and in this clip, piano) a fantastic musician, arranger, producer with two forgotten records from the mid-seventies, Slaughter On Tenth Avenue 1974 and Play Don’t Worry 1975. He contributed hugely to Lou Reed’s second and legendary album Transformer 1972. He co-produced it with Bowie, played guitar and piano and arranged the strings.
He played with Bob Dylan on the Hard Rain Live album in 1976 and in 1979 he and Ian Hunter produced Nightout for Ellen Foley. (He also appeared on four other Ian Hunter albums). In 1982 he worked on John Mellencamp’s American Fool album. He produced a Morrissey album (Your Arsenal 1992). He had the most sensitive touch and had the meanest guitar sound that tore through you but somehow left just a hint of perfume in the aftermath.
He played on many Bowie albums, The Man Who Sold The World 1970, Hunky Dory 1971, Ziggy Stardust 1972, Pin Ups 1973, Aladdin Sane 1973 and later on Black Tie White Noise 1993. He died of cancer just a year later.
Trevor Bolder was a powerhouse of a bass player but also melodic and creative, playing on The Man Who Sold The World 1970, Hunky Dory 1971, Ziggy Stardust 1972, Pin Ups 1973 and Aladdin Sane 1973. From 1977 – 2011 he played with Uriah Heep recording more than 20 albums and 1n 1982 with Wishbone Ash on Twin Barrels Burning. He also died of cancer in 2013.
Mick (Woody) Woodmansey played drums on The Man Who Sold The World 1970, Hunky Dory 1971, Ziggy Stardust 1972 and Aladdin Sane 1973. He formed The Spiders From Mars as a one off project with Trevor Bolder in 1976 and had his own band U- Boat release an album in 1977. He also played with Art Garfunkel.
After the video there is a concert of The Spiders starring Bowie, Live at the Santa Monica Civic in California that you can listen to on Spotify. Performing at their peak, this recording was a famous bootleg for years before it finally got an official release.
One last comment, that drum beat on Five Years just sends me. Not a virtuoso, not a groove player, not a powerful drummer, not a technician but like Ringo or Nick Mason, completely and totally the right man to play on the song – the right touch, the right meter, the right feel, it’s all about him and whatever Bowie’s genius, without Woody playing on this track, Bowie’s world would not have had the same magic.