You have to admire David Bowie's energy and enthusiasm at this advanced state of his career:
- Rock legend David Bowie announced on Monday he would headline two of Britain's biggest music festivals next year ... July's T in the Park at Balado, near Kinross in Scotland, and at the Isle of Wight festival in June. [Reuters]
- I've been in a Bowie mood - today it's Bowie's extremely fruitful musical partnership with the great guitarist Mick Ronson.
Ronson was born in 1947 and grew up in Hull in the north of England. As a child Ronson played violin, recorder, harmonium and guitar. Outwardly reserved, Ronson practiced guitar-hero poses in the privacy of his own room as he slashed out Jeff Beck riffs. Many a young guitarist would likewise emulate him in the '70s.
In the '60s Ronson played with local groups Voice, and Wanted, before hooking up the Rats, yet another Anglo R&B group in the tradition of Pretty Things, Them, the early Rolling Stones, and the Yardbirds. The young guitarist made his recording debut behind British folk singer Michael Chapman on the 1969 album Fully Qualified Survivor. After a few singles and a tour of France with the Rats, a disillusioned Ronson returned to Hull and the quiet life of a gardener.
Horticulture's loss was music's gain as Ronson was summoned to London in 1970 to work with David Bowie on the follow-up to his first hit single, "Space Oddity." Bowie and bassist/producer Tony Visconti were assembling a hard rock band to blow away Bowie's frouffy, flower power image. With the addition of ex-Rat Woody Woodmansey on drums, The Man Who Sold the World lineup was complete.
Man rocks with an authority that startles even today. While the material is uneven and Visconti's production is somewhat pinched, Man is Bowie's first classic album. Ronson's guitar propels the opus "Width of a Circle"; he riffs viciously like Jimmy Page and solos on the twang bar with a Jeff Beck-like intensity. "All the Madmen" is one of the most successful examples of Bowie's career-long fascination with the Outsider. The title track is driven by Ronson's melodic lines and a spunky Latin beat.