Spider From Mars: My Life With Bowie
published: 24 /
Lisa Torem in 'Raging Pages' finds that drummer/author Woody Woodmansey’s timeless memoir about his years with David Bowie backing group, the Spiders from Mars is a veritable 'must-have'.
In the midst of writing his frank and expressive memoir, ‘Spider from Mars: My Life with Bowie’, in 2016 and en route to Toronto where Woody and bassist/producer Tony Visconti’s Holy Holy (a band which performs David Bowie material internationally), which includes a revolving host of all-stars, were set to perform, drummer/arranger/author Woody “Mick” Woodmansey received the disturbing news that David Bowie had died.
As a member of Bowie’s first backing band, The Spiders from Mars, with bassist Trevor Bolder and guitarist Mick Ronson, Woody witnessed the superstar’s fascinating rise to success. He watched David Bowie morph into the legendary Ziggy Stardust and he even saw that persona dissolve as the band stood on stage.
Woody’s consciousness as a musician started early on in Grinstead, England when he discovered a group of older musicians jamming in an out-of-the way building. From that point on, his focus became outstandingly clear. His streamlined dream was essentially to become an outstanding drummer.
He disappointed his parents by not accepting a job as a tradesman with a real future, but he was determined. And at times, he even surprised himself by somehow skipping a pre-arranged audition with Paul McCartney’s Wings but Woody’s perseverance paid off.
Working with the Spiders meant exploring new avenues beyond the scope of music-making. Woody found himself wearing outlandish costumes that folks in his working-class neighborhood found disarming. Once his father even got into a fist fight related to his son’s startling image.
Woody struggled to keep his marriage stable despite constant touring and a cesspool of confusing excesses and as his adoring partner, June, continued to design costumes. In the studio, he continually found himself orchestrating ad hoc arrangements when he was often just given a sketchy verse or chorus, but, through hard work and imagination, he became an integral part of the songwriting solution and watched the band’s discography chart.
Woody played on 'The Man Who Sold the World', 'Hunky Dory', 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust' and 'Aladdin Sane' between the years of 1970-1973 and is the last, living original member of the Spiders from Mars. That fact alone, hints at the magnitude of his storied accomplishments.
Fortunately for the reader, Woody’s keen memory absorbed all the chaos, excitement and fury of his Spider years. And his subsequent musical accomplishments are also illustrated and revealed through an articulate, generous lens.
For serious readers and curious observers of British/American pop/rock/new wave culture, Woody Woodmansey’s memoir is a veritable and timeless “must-have.”