Tuesday 23 January 2024

David Bowie: Rock 'N' Roll With Me - A Memoir - Geoff McCormack (2023)


Rating: Excellent

Imagine growing up as a close friend of a man who would become the most influential rock star ever, well Geoff McCormack was lucky enough to be a close friend to David Bowie for most of his life. Luckier still McCormack had some talent as a singer and percussionist, which gave Bowie the opportunity to invite him along on tours as both a buddy and a band member. For this reason core Bowie fans have long known about McCormack and this makes the book a welcome edition to the huge amount of Bowie books out there, rather than just yet another product of the Bowie economy. Originally published quite a number of years ago in a deluxe, autographed edition, this is one for the masses. Essentially McCormack's memoir, from childhood to now, Rock 'N' Roll With Me comes across with lots of charm, but not as much detail as one would think, at least in terms of the professional workings of Bowie and his music. The book reads more like a travelogue, more impressionistic than detailed oriented. However the content is still fascinating and unique, with plenty of great stories about travelling with Bowie, being a touring musician and having lots of fun along side the great man. Although McCormack was, as mentioned, lucky enough to both work with Bowie and be his close friend, you come away with the impression that Bowie was actually the lucky one, with McCormack being a very good friend indeed.

Bowie and McCormack in Russia

Perhaps the main draw of Rock 'N' Roll With Me is the amazing array of photos taken by McCormack himself, having taken up photography in parallel with traveling with Bowie. There's many not seen before, taken while traveling through the former Soviet Union via the Trans-Siberian Express, on several American tours, the making of The Man Who Fell to Earth (1975) and the Station to Station (1976) album. McCormack is a natural when it comes to photography, the photos are not merely snapshots, but are professionally executed. Bowie and McCormack remained friends until Bowie's untimely death in 2016, so there's chapters about Bowie and Iman's wedding, Bowie's fiftieth birthday gig at Madison Square Garden in 1997, hanging out at Bowie's apartment in New York with he likes of Lou Reed; and finally, an account of their last communications, which is both touching and sad. The book ends with an afterward written by Bowie in 2007, during a period when he had mostly retired from public view, in which he asks "Will you actually be able to get this stuff published do you think?". For Bowie fans Rock 'N' Roll With Me is an essential book and it is presented beautifully in a hard-back format with quality photographic reproductions. 

From the Station to Station sessions

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