Nobody knew it at the time, but David Bowie’s final tour of Europe was in 2003, which included homecoming shows at Wembley Arena. His support band was The Dandy Warhols, the Oregon rockers who enjoyed hits that year with We Used To Be Friends and You Were The Last High.
The band have continued to embrace Bowie’s spirit of choosing your own path and have just released new single You Are Killing Me.
Singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor tells Loaded: “Being the last band to support Bowie on tour seems incidental. But, phew, it had to be someone. So I’m just glad it was us.”
Taylor-Taylor, whose band have released eight albums across their 20 year career to date, said Bowie was a delight to tour with. He enthuses: “Bowie was super-enthusiastic. I really enjoyed making him proud of us. It was like a jock son making his dad proud, but all by abstractions.”
The offer to tour with Bowie was a dream for Taylor-Taylor, whose other hits include Get Off, Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth, Bohemian Like You and Sad Vacation. Now 48, he’s been a Bowie fan since he was seven.
“The first time I heard his music was when my redneck relative left me at their house while they were hunting,” he recalls. “The eldest son put me in his room in front of the Ziggy Stardust album and said ‘Listen to this, we’ll back in time for supper.’
“I was an instant fan. What I heard that day was the coolest thing I’d ever heard.”
Taylor-Taylor has remained a Bowie fan ever since, recalling that he adored Golden Years in college “Even though it bugged me that he rhymed ‘years’ with ‘years’ – I do that shit all the time myself now.” Now? “Oh, now of course Ashes To Ashes and Heroes are my favourite songs.”
“As an older legend, I know Bowie was stuck on still being able to blow minds”
The Dandy Warhols’ 2009 album The Dandy Warhols Are Sound was the most directly inspired by Bowie, “sonically a bit by his Fame and Fashion era”, though Taylor-Taylor insists: “I kinda only write songs as therapy, so no, he didn’t directly inspire our songs lyrically. I only write about me.”
The Dandy Warhols were on tour when Bowie died, and Taylor-Taylor recalls his devastation after learning of his passing. “I was in the cattle stalls of Houston Airport,” he says. “My tour manager went ‘Hey man, I don’t know if you heard, but Bowie died.’ What I felt then, I will never forget. I thought I was going to vomit.”
Like so many, Taylor-Taylor is deeply impressed by Blackstar, the final album Bowie made while knowing he had cancer. “As an older legend, I know Bowie was stuck on still being able to blow minds,” he enthuses. “When we were on tour, we discussed it more than maybe anything else. I’m he glad he made that film for the title track – it reasserted his total visionary brilliance. I regret not emailing that exact thought. Shit.”
Loaded’s deputy editor John Earls has covered entertainment and sport across a range of national newspapers, plus several football and music magazines, since 1990. Follow him on Twitter at @EarlsJohn