Here’s how Geoff MacCormack puts it:
“Say you’re my friend,” he says, “and I invite you to a party, and the party goes on for three years, and you change costumes, and maybe we go home and say hello to mother — which is important, obviously — and we check with our families and, and we do all that, and we come back to the party and we carry on the theme, or the next theme, or the other theme, or whatever the theme is going to be and that’s kind of what it’s like.”
What MacCormack is talking about is the whirlwind trio of years he spent, circa 1973-1976, touring as part of David Bowie’s band, as a backup singer and a percussionist.
More than just a member of the band, however, MacCormack was an integral part of Bowie’s creative life onstage and off, his constant companion while they were on the road — Bowie had a terrible fear of flying, and thus, only traveled by train, boat or car — and, simply, his best friend. Beyond even that, MacCormack was part and parcel to Bowie’s life when, arguably, he was the single most important musician on the planet.
During the three years that MacCormack toured and recorded with Bowie, he was part of five records — from Aladdin Sane to Station to Station — and six different tours. Nor were these just any regular rock and roll tours; they were Bowie at his mid-1970s creative peak, through America, Japan and England in 1973, and then across North America in 1974 as part of the Diamond Dogs and “Soul” tours, which were — at the time — the most comprehensive rock tours of continent then undertaken.
It all amounted to a mad rush, an entropic barnstorm of great music and great theater that set the standard not only for rock shows, but for rock and roll music itself. It is a standard that’s still copied today, and which, in many ways, has yet to be lived up to.
Bowie’s live shows of the ‘70s are legendary, and MacCormack was not only front and center for them, he was fundamental to their very happening.
MacCormack details those three wild years in the new book “From Station to Station, Travels With Bowie, 1973-1976,” from Genesis Publications. It is a deluxe volume, leather bound and gold trimmed, replete with never-before-seen pictures of Bowie, reproductions of programs and mementos and chock full of inside information that, if anything, makes the ultimate rock and roll god seem, well, just like a regular guy having a good time on the road.
That, of course, has to be taken in context. A good time for Bowie — and MacCormack by association — would be an amazing fantasy for 99.9 percent of us. In MacCormack’s words, as it’s related in “Station To Station,” he’s simply having a nice little go-round with an old friend. Amazingly enough, that’s precisely what it was.
Yes, Bowie was immensely popular, and sought after by every groupie and rock ‘n’ roll wannabee on the planet, but to MacCormack, he was still little David Jones with whom he attended Burnt Ash School in London, and with whom he had been best friends since they were seven years old.
MacCormack was in his mid-20s, working as an ad sales associate on a magazine, when he got a call from Bowie informing him that he was now in Bowie’s band, that they were going to America, and that he was going to accompany Bowie on a trans-Atlantic luxury liner departing immediately.
Again, it’s the ultimate rock fantasy, and MacCormack lived it. Yet, he is remarkably sanguine about it. It was after all, just a call from an old buddy.