Jonathan Ross reveals hilariously embarrassing David Bowie story

“I think that’s the saddest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

The Jonathan Ross Show
Agony Jonathan Ross experienced the mother off all gaffes in front of his hero. Image Picture ITV

Jonathan Ross was never shy about proclaiming his love for David Bowie.

The broadcaster dedicated an entire episode of Friday Night With Jonathan Ross to the music icon in 2002, and Ross has now opened up about a moment of excruciating embarrassment he experienced in front of his hero.

Speaking on The Adam Buxton Podcast’s two-part tribute to Bowie, Ross disclosed that he experienced a backstage mishap in front of The Thin White Duke at 2002’s Meltdown.

Bowie, who was curating the summer event at London’s Royal Festival Hall, had asked Ross to perform two DJ sets.

“I’d never DJ’d before. I’ve only DJ’d for two people in my life: David Bowie and Yoko Ono,” Ross revealed.

“I said I’d gladly do it and you (Buxton) gave me a selection of tracks, all of which were good, and I showed it to Bowie. I was doing two sets that night, the first was going to be a warm-up gig before he started and then one afterwards. He was doing a two-part show.

“The first part was going to be Reality and Outside. Then he said he was going to do all of the B-side of Low.”

Life On Mars singer David Bowie backstage in Mick Rock's Ziggy Stardust book for Loaded
Time takes a cigarette David Bowie relaxes on the QE2. Image Picture Mick Rock

Ross admitted that his opening DJ set was largely a disaster, and that his tracks from Cornelius, Yoko Ono and War were bombing.

“I put on one Bowie track and the place went f**king nuts,” Ross continued. “Now I see what they want! I put on Lou Reed and the place goes nuts. All I really need is Transformer and Bowie albums, which of course I hadn’t bought many with me.

“I phone home and ask them to put every Bowie CD in there for me, any Lou Reed, a bit of Iggy, maybe Mott The Hoople, let’s go crazy. T. Rex? Go on.”

During Bowie’s first set someone came up to Ross in the audience with a Tesco carrier bag full of CDs. After Bowie wrapped up his first set, Ross went backstage to see the music icon.

“Bowie’s band all stop and they start laughing at me as I’m scrabbling around at his feet with all his records spread out.”

“I go backstage to see him clutching this carrier bag,” Ross explained.

:He comes out his dressing room barefoot, the God is there barefoot. He’s just performed incredibly, he’s done hits, hits, hits.

“He says, ‘Jonathan, I’m thinking of doing Low. What’s that track? You like Low – it’s your favourite album?’ I said it is, and then he asks what do I sing? I go, ‘Hang on, I’ve got it here.’

“I went to get it out of the bag, I’m still in the hallway at this point he hasn’t invited me in. As I reach into the bag I’m too excited and push them all through the bottom so all his CDs fell out around his bare feet. I immediately get down on my knees, so I’m down by his feet as his band walk out.

“Mike Garson, he walks past and they all stop and they start laughing at me as I’m scrabbling around at Bowie’s feet with all his records spread out. Mike Garson just went, ‘I think that’s the saddest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.’”

Buxton’s Bowie podcast also features an extended interview with Johan Renck, the director behind the singer’s final music video Lazarus, and Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes covering Five Years. You can listen to them both on Buxton’s website here.

Watch Jonathan Ross’ 2002 David Bowie special in its entirety below:

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Loaded digital media manager Simon Reynolds has written about film and entertainment for various leading websites since 2008. Follow Simon at @simonreyn

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