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David Bowie's Spiders From Mars drummer recalls final contact with Bowie before his death

David Bowie's Spiders From Mars drummer recalls final contact with Bowie before his death

Woody Woodmansey - David Bowie's drummer from his iconic group, The Spiders From Mars - has today spoken out about the last contact he had with Bowie before his death.

It was on stage just two days before Bowie's death. The group, fronted by Bowie's longtime collaborator Tony Visconti, were touring 'Man Who Sold The World' when Tony decided to call him on stage to wish him a happy birthday.

“We’d done a live album at Shepherd’s Bush Empire and Tony said ‘I’m going to play this to David because he kept asking how’s it going’,” Woody told NME. “He said it was really nice, he was beaming from ear to ear, all the way through the album and said he really liked it. Tony said ‘David and I have talked over the years about we should’ve taken ‘The Man who Sold the World ‘on the road as a live thing’ because when we finished it we really thought we were gonna set the world on fire, we’d thrown everything we had into that album and never toured it, we did a couple of tracks from it on the Ziggy tours but never in its entirety.

“I wasn’t sure Tony would be into but he immediately said yes and apparently David said ‘Why do you want to do it?’, then Tony replied ‘because we never did it’, and Bowie said ‘I can’t think of a better reason really’. So it was good and when we spoke to him from the stage. It was two days before he died. Tony knew he was ill, but didn’t know how severe it was, didn’t know he was near the end, and I don’t think David knew either. I think that last album was his last musical thing for the fans, I don’t think that was in his mind, I think he had more stuff he wanted to do. But it was a nice ending to it really.”

The last time they met each other in the flesh, however, was a long, long time ago during the recording of 'Low' in 1976.

“I was in France doing some sessions and he was in the château, and I knew Tony was producing,” Woody told NME. “I hadn’t spoken to Tony for quite a while, so I phoned him up and we had a chat. I came down to the studio to meet him and David and spent a good half an hour on our own just chatting in between one of his recording sessions. That was good, we put a lot of things to right, we parted as friends again basically.”

Woody and Bowie would regularly email one another about comedy shows, however.

“I remember once, it was one of the more bizarre comedy things that was out at the time. I can’t remember the name of it, because he like those comedy things. He was pretty sharp, he had a very left-field humour. I mean, I just… right from the early days of The Goon Show, and Monty Python and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the kind of off-beat things. We used to tell dirty jokes and all sorts of things. I guess he had a bit of a Northern sense of humour, whether that was something he got into because we were all from Yorkshire but he did seem to have that naturally, a dry sense of humour.”

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