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Baker's Dozen

Off The Airwaves, On The Stereo: Mark Radcliffe's Favourite LPs
Jude Rogers , September 18th, 2019 08:26

Radio DJ hero and now musician Mark Radcliffe tells Jude Rogers tales of being seduced by David Bowie and the gift of a cheese pie from Kate Bush in this week's Baker's Dozen, also featuring the likes of Bob Marley, Joy Division and Stevie Wonder


David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
I was up early that morning, making a cup of tea, having just plonked on 5 Live, and they're going on about someone who'd died, as usual. I didn't pay too much attention, then at the end they said David Bowie. I was genuinely stunned. He was so young. He felt so young. Of course we knew he'd been ill with heart problems, but we didn't know he was dying. My phone started lighting up, people ringing asking me to go on Breakfast TV, but I would have never done that. Can you imagine doing that? Going on to do soundbites for three minutes about someone that significant, sandwiched between the traffic news and the weather? 
He had such a profound effect on my life, which sounds over-the-top, but it's absolutely true. He seduced me, really, lying on my bed at fourteen. I'd been into rock music before him – Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd – but that music was a bit "bigger brother, a bit "your dad". This was the first music that felt like it had been made for people exactly like me. The way 'Five Years' opens up with those drums slowly moving in, that piano chord, Bowie "pushing through the rain in the market square"… it created a whole new world of possibility. I saw the Ziggy tour later that year at the Manchester Hard Rock Café, still fourteen. I remember it was a pound to stand up and £1.25 to sit, and we paid to sit, but stood up for the whole bloody thing. It felt too good to be too true, so surreal, to just be there breathing the same as air as him.

What was it like spending time with him? [With Marc Riley, Radcliffe interviewed Bowie in 1995 for the Outside album in New York, and in 1999 for a live session on his show at the Maida Vale studios; the pair were also drafted in to introduce his 2002 shows in Old Trafford and the Hammersmith Apollo.] The first time I interviewed him I could barely speak after it, to be honest. But as the years went on, I knew he listened to and enjoyed our shows, and knew Marc and I were uberfans, but quite liked how we never tried any deep journalistic inquisitions. We just had a laugh, really. There's a picture of him in our messy studio in 2002, Marc and I looking at the camera, and he's just sat there on the side with a face on, reading my copy of the Viz annual [which he later took home]. He was daft, but also kind: I remember he emailed through a nice quote for one of my books, and signed some vinyl for a local charity auction I did, things he really didn't have to do, but I sensed he did that for lots of other people. That kindness made his music even more special for me. It reminded me that when I first heard David Bowie, that was the point when music stopped becoming something I liked, and became something I loved.