Cameron Crowe — the executive producer of Showtime‘s new drama series ROADIES — remembers rock icon David Bowie as “the most generous and exciting interview subject that I was ever allowed a lot of time.”
Crowe, best known for his films ALMOST FAMOUS and JERRY McGUIRE, began working as a rock journalist for Rolling Stone as a teenagers.
He first crossed paths with Bowie in 1973.
Here’s how he remembers it:
I wrote about him a lot for Rolling Stone magazine and Playboy and Cream magazine. He was an amazing he was the most generous and exciting interview subject that I was ever allowed a lot of time with, and that all came from David Bowie. I’d been profiling some friends of his during a period where Bowie himself had done no interviews, and I had told these musician friends of his, “Boy, I would really like to interview David Bowie.” I was 16. So they were like, “Yeah. We’ll let David Bowie know you want to interview him.”
So I went back home. I was sitting in my bedroom in San Diego, and the phone rang one night, and it was David Bowie. And he said, “I’m on a train, and I’m on my way from New York. I’ve just split with my manager. I don’t know that many people in Los Angeles. I’ll be getting in in a couple of days, and would you like to do an interview with me?” And I said, “Yes, I would. I really, really would.” He says, “Well, I’ll call you when I get to Los Angeles.” I was ready for it to be over at that point.
But sure enough, he got to Los Angeles, and he called me. He said, “Come up here. I’m staying at this house. Let’s meet, and let’s spend some time together,” and I spend six months straight with David Bowie at that time, the period with little breaks to go back to San Diego, but basically I was in this whirlwind with him in the period between “Young Americans” and “Station to Station.” And thank goodness I kept notes on every aspect of it. There were no limits. Everything was discussed. He said, “Ask me anything. Watch me create. Watch me produce. Watch me sad. Watch me happy.” And it was an incredibly vital experience because he said, “You can do this story for whoever you want.”
So everybody wanted the story, so it was a great help for my career then. But the amazing thing that I come away with is that even then, which was kind of a wild period in his life, he was always obsessed with music and art and never the business. It was always a young artist had moved him. He would reach out to that artist. Bruce Springsteen was somebody that caught his attention on the first album. He was talking about Bruce Springsteen in 19 early stages of Bruce Springsteen’s career.
But the thing that I just wanted to say over the last couple of days I’ve had a chance to really think about it, David Bowie’s impact is so huge in that he presents himself now as a role model to artists that may need to remember that it’s not about branding. It’s about a restless need to be creative and to continue being creative, and David Bowie was the antibranding artist, and for a young musician or artist of any kind, anybody coming up, it’s great to look to Bowie and see that seismic effect he’s had on people, not because he kept doing the same thing that worked again and again, but because he always shook it up and he always served the gods of creativity, and that was the lesson I got from him then and today.
ROADIES is Crowe’s first foray into scripted television. Co-executive produced by J.J. Abrams, the comedy gives a glimpse inside the world of touring rock bands as seen through the eyes of the men and women behind-the-scenes.
“The premise is let’s just celebrate music and the people that are passionate about it,” Crowe says.
ROADIES premieres in 2016 on Showtime.
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