#BookReview | Spider from Mars: My Life with David Bowie by Woody Woodmansey

spiders-from-mars-by-woody-woodmansey

About the Book

In January 2016, the unexpected death of David Bowie rocked the globe. For millions of people, he was an icon celebrated for his music, his film and theatrical roles, and his trendsetting influence on fashion and gender norms. But no one from her inner circle has told the story of how David Jones—a young folksinger, dancer, and aspiring mime—became one of the most influential artists of our time.
Drummer Woody Woodmansey is the last surviving member of Bowie’s band The Spiders from Mars which helped launch his Ziggy Stardust persona and made David Bowie a sensation.
In this first memoir to follow Bowie’s passing, Spider from Mars reveals what it was like to be at the white-hot center of a star’s self-creation. With never-before-told stories and never-before-seen photographs, Woodmansey offers details of the album sessions for The Man Who Sold the World, Hunky Dory, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and Aladdin Sane: the four albums that made Bowie a cult figure. And, as fame beckoned by eventually consumed Bowie, Woodmansey recalls the wild tours, eccentric characters, and rock ‘n’ roll excess that eventually drove the band apart.
A vivid and unique evocation of a transformative musical era and the enigmatic, visionary musician at the center of it, with a foreword by legendary music producer Tony Visconti and an afterword from Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot, Spider from Mars is for everyone who values David Bowie, by one of the people who knew him best.

My Thoughts

I couldn’t resist requesting this book when it was available on NetGalley. I’m a huge David Bowie fan and love every era of his including Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. Woody Woodmansey is from a place near where I’m originally from so I feel like I was aware of the Spiders from Mars from a really young age.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a real insight into Woody’s life and his time with the Spiders from Mars. It’s a candid look back over the years and it felt very open and honest. The way the Spiders came to be and how Woody end up a part of the band was really interesting. It’s obvious that there was a genuine camaraderie between the band and Bowie during their early days together, and I loved reading the stories. I enjoyed reading about David Bowie their recording process and how the songs came to be.

There are a lot of funny stories in this memoir too – the way the band felt when Bowie first suggested some of the more outrageous stage outfits is amusing. The ways they would wind each other up in the early days just shows how for a time they were just normal young men in a band trying to make it big. There is a real warmth in the way Woodmansey tells his story.

Bowie famously killed off Ziggy Stardust on stage at the Hammersmith Apollo on the last night of the tour, which came as a shock to the Spiders from Mars and Woodmansey gives his side of the story in this memoir. It obviously became quite tumultuous for everyone as David Bowie’s fame grew and the cracks began to show between him and the rest of the Spiders from Mars, which is plain to see was very painful for Woodmansey.

It’s incredibly moving to read about the deaths of members of the Spiders from Mars – Mick Ronson and later Trevor Bolder, and I hadn’t realised before that Woodmansey’s current band Holy Holy were on tour in America when the news broke that David Bowie had died. The chapter covering how he found out and his reflections on his friend were incredibly moving – it really did make me cry.

This memoir is about Woody Woodmansey looking back at his life and in particular his time in the Spiders from Mars, and David Bowie is a part of that but it’s very much Woodmansey’s life story. It’s another perspective on that incredible period of time in music. There are also some great photos in this book that I hadn’t seen before and I loved having the chance to see those.

After finishing the book I immediately had to listen to the albums from this period out of the Five Years vinyl boxset to really immerse myself, yet again, in the amazing music of David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars

I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley.

Spider from Mars: My Life with David Bowie is out now and available from all good book shops.

 

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10 thoughts on “#BookReview | Spider from Mars: My Life with David Bowie by Woody Woodmansey

  1. Sounds really fascinating. And it’s always interesting to get a perspective on someone famous that doesn’t come from that person, if you understand my meaning.

  2. The other spiders Mick Ronson and Trevor Bolder are both from Hull, so consequently I was also aware of them all from an early age. Sad to think that Woody is the only one left.

  3. I’ve only actually read one musical artist memoir, and that was Cheri Currie’s Neon Angel: The Memoir of A Runaway. It sounds like you had the same experience I did, just with a different artist. It’s beautiful how they are able to look back with such fondness and allow us into those scenes behind the legends.

    • It is lovely that an artist can look back fondly on their career, especially as in Woody Woodmansey’s case where his time in the band was abruptly ended and yet he’s not bitter about it at all. I love music memoirs, especially of bands/singers whose music I enjoy.

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