Page last updated at 14:13 GMT, Monday, 8 January 2007

The day I met the Thin White Duke

David Bowie live
David Bowie performing live in Boston in the US on 30 March 2004

David Bowie, the iconic rock star who's responsible for some of the biggest-selling singles and albums of the last four decades is 60 today.

Over his long and varied career David Bowie has probably met tens of thousands of people.

And three of them have been in touch with the BBC News website to share their memories of when they met the Thin White Duke.


In 1989 I was working as a video disc jockey at The Ritz rock club in New York's East Village. It meant being in charge of all the videos which were played in the club.

One day, while setting up for the evening's entertainment, a slightly scruffy man appeared in the club.

Meeting David Bowie in New York
"If you shaved your beard you'd make a pretty good look-alike"

I wasn't sure who he was but figured he had something to do with an act that might be playing.

I remember saying to him "man, if you shaved your beard you'd make a pretty good David Bowie lookalike." He kinda laughed and carried on doing what he was doing and then left.

The next day, again setting up for the evening's entertainment, Bruce the club's stage manager, called me over.

He asked me if I'd be so kind as to let his guest hear the club's sound system - his guest was one D Bowie.

It was only after he'd shaved that I realised who it really was

That's when I realised that I'd told David Bowie he would look like himself if he bothered to shave.

It turns out he was scouting locations to shoot a music video and he chose our club.

Within a week his entourage had moved in and the filmed a medley of material for his then soon to be released album Tin Machine.

Meeting David Bowie was an experience I'll never forget, if only because it was so embarrassing!


There was a programme on in the early 70s called Lift Off with Ayshea and it was then that I first saw David Bowie performing.

Eleanor Smith meeting David Bowie
"Before I met him I have to say that I was pretty petrified"

He had red hair and huge platform shoes and it was like nothing I had ever seen in my life.

I think everyone at the time thought like I did, that this guy had just landed from outer space.

I saw him live for the first time a few years later at Earl's Court in London.

At the time he was the Thin White Duke and the show was incredible.

Since then I reckon I've been to at least six of his concerts and all of them amazing.

Except for one which was indescribable because it was afterwards that I actually met him.

A beer company had just started name-sponsoring the Hammersmith Apollo and were running a competition where Bowie fans could meet their hero after a special one-off concert he was playing to promote the new venue.

Although ethereal, David Bowie is actually incredibly down to earth

I couldn't believe it when my name was pulled out of the hat.

After the concert, where we sat in the front row, we were shown backstage. I remember being absolutely terrified and worried too.

I was worried I would meet him and he would be cold or uninterested but he was anything but.

He could obviously see I was petrified so cracked a few jokes to put me at ease, putting his arm around me and happily posing for photos.

The best thing about Bowie is that, although he seems ethereal and like something from beyond the stars, he is actually very warm and down to earth. A true gentleman.


In 1993 I happened upon a recently released CD of singles by David Bowie and thought I would give it a listen. Needless to say I thought it was brilliant even though he didn't interest me that much.

David Bowie on Michael Parkinson
"I saw Bowie on Parkinson and waited afterwards to meet him"

Then a few years later I saw him performing on German TV and thought that he was pretty good but it was only when I saw him in concert two years after that, that I was hooked.

When he goes on tour I am lucky enough to be able to follow the tour as much as possible and try to see as many of the shows as possible.

I can't count how many times I've seen him live but I reckon that it must be more than 50.

The interesting thing is, when he performs live, no two shows are the same. He changes his song setlist and even cracks different jokes!

I think the best tip I have is that when he plays a new city, the show on the second night always seems better than the first.

The first time I had my photo taken with David Bowie was in Denver in the US but it came out blurred. Needless to say I was pretty upset.

Four years later, in 2001, I was lucky to win tickets to be part of the audience for his appearance on Michael Parkinson's chat show.

I decided to take the blurred photo with me to the BBC and after the show I waited for him at the door.

I showed him the blurred image and asked him if I could please have another one.

His security guard took the photo (below).

Meeting David Bowie
"Meeting David Bowie was not at all disappointing"

The funny thing is that people who I know are fans don't want to meet him because they think he might be a complete disappointment but he really is sweet, warm and funny.

So a very Happy 60th Birthday David!

It's thanks to you that the last 10 years of my life have been filled with lots of very special memories.

Interviews by Robert Coxwell of Have Your Say.

Below are some more of the comments you've sent to us about the day you met David Bowie.

I'm interested to know whether anyone else remembers seeing david Bowie perform a a 'gig' at Worthing High School for Boys in late 60s/early 70s. We had never experienced anything so exotic before!
Victoria Sturdy, West Sussex UK

In 1978, I was the piano technician on David's incredible tour of Australia, New Zealand and Japan. He is one of the true gentlemen in the music business. It was a distinct honor and a huge source of pride to be a member of his touring production staff. His talent, generosity and professionalism are extraordinary and unequaled. Happy birthday, David. Rock on.
Edd Kolakowski, Marbella, Spain

I was a young 20 year old when I first saw David Bowie at the Pavillion, Torquay, Devon on his Ziggy Stardust Tour. I will never forget what an incredible performer he was plus the costume and make-up with the zig-zag across his face, it was umbelieveable. His roadies allowed my friend and I up to his hotel room where we sat around with some other groupies, I don't think I talked to him as I was too much in awe, but we both had a memorable evening. David Bowie is a fabulous star, always changing and re-inventing himself - that's why he'd stayed at the top of his profession. I think Madonna took a leaf out of his book!
Josephine Leslie-Jackson, London

I'm 29 and think he's still gorgeous! I've been a fan ever since I saw Labyrinth in the 80's. Can't believe he's going to be 60, hope he keeps touring - Happy Birthday Mr Bowie!
Loz, London

Once saw Bowie in an art shop in Rathbone Place just off Oxford street, he was buying paints and brushes. I could not believe this amazing rock star was in the same shop as me. Trouble was I don't think anybody else in the shop even noticed him, and clearly not the young girl who served him. Happy birthday David, I still listen to Ziggy Stardust.
Jeff Hardcastle, London

I once worked security at a hotel for a kick off party for him for his tour with NIN about a decade ago here in the US. A nice guy, chitchatted with everyone (even a lowly security guard), he seemed very relaxed and enjoying the moment, and no prima donna attitude that I could see.
Jim Moore, USA

He stood next to me at the J. F. Kennedy Memorial in Washington in 1983. I asked if I could take his picture and one of the women he was with told me to get lost. I wasn't impressed.
Then, few years later I made him a Cappuccino in Covent Garden and resisted the urge to spit in it!
Mark, Hamburg, Germany

It was Christmas 1967 or 8. An unknown David Bowie was appearing at the local hall in Falmouth, Cornwall. I was one of a dozen people there. He sang Brel. I dragged 5 other people from the bar to see him. In the interval I went backstage; I knew the way; I had acted in the school play on the same stage. And there he was crouched over a suitcase applying make-up. I asked questions and he was charming, humble. Later he joined us in the bar and did a duet with my chum Terry. He could not have been more friendly. He was well spoken, almost shy and conservatively dressed. A few months later Space Oddity hit the charts. When he came to Tokyo last year I wanted to shout something. But I didn't.
Timothy, Yokohama in Japan

28 years ago I "bumped into" him in the Embassy Club in London in 1979. I was walking through a door, and he was trying to get through from the other side. He had to gently move me aside so he could get by, and smiled at me. I was so star struck that I couldn't move! Silly really, but he was my hero at that age! Happy Birthday David!
Louise Harris, New York, USA

It was in the late '70s, in Ottawa, Canada, at one of David Bowie's early, spectacular concerts. I came prepared with my Bic butane lighter that I would wave in the air along with just about everyone else in the stadium. Unfortunately, mine was a dud. As I lit it it sprayed lighter fluid all over my arm and I caught fire. All that mattered to me was that David Bowie was looking and pointing right at me! The fluid burnt away quickly and the fire went out so there was no real harm done and I had the thrill of my young life knowing that I had been "seen". I know that Mr. Bowie was likely pointing for security reasons, but I know I saw him smile - a gesture that has been close to my heart ever since.
Gwen Kerr, Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada

Unfortunately, due to the large number of e-mails we've received we've been unable to post all of your comments.
However we have printed off all the messages you've sent to us and forwarded them to David Bowie's London publicist to pass onto the singer.

video and audio news
David Bowie performing on stage as Ziggy Stardust

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific