TONIGHT: Rock N’ Roll Suicide


Institute of Contemporary Art will offer a rare screening of the druggy David Bowie documentary Cracked Actor 7 PM tonight @ International House

WIKIPEDIA: Cracked Actor is a 53-minute-long BBC television documentary film about the pop star David Bowie. It was filmed in 1974. At the time he was a cocaine addict and the documentary has become notorious for showing Bowie’s fragile mental state during this period. It was made by Alan Yentob for the BBC’s Omnibus documentary strand, and was first shown, on BBC2 in the UK, on 26 January 1975. The documentary depicts Bowie on tour in Los Angeles, using a mixture of documentary sequences filmed in limousines and hotels, and concert footage. Most of the concert footage was taken from a show at the Los Angeles Universal Amphitheatre on 2 September 1974. There were also excerpts from D.A. Pennebaker‘s concert film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which had been shot at London’s Hammersmith Odeon on 3 July 1973, as well as a few other performances from the tour.[1] Cracked Actor is notable for being a source for footage of Bowie’s ambitious Diamond Dogs tour. Yentob and his team were given the task of documenting Bowie’s famous Diamond Dogs tour, which was already underway when they started filming. Locations for the documentary mainly centred around Hollywood and Los Angeles, but there was also concert footage taken from Philadelphia. A number of performances from the tour were shown, including songs such as “Space Oddity“, “Cracked Actor“, “Sweet Thing/Candidate“, “Moonage Daydream“, “The Width of a Circle“, “Aladdin Sane“, “Time“, “Diamond Dogs” and “John, I’m Only Dancing (Again)“. At present, the documentary remains officially unreleased though there are some bootleg video copies circulating as a result of the programme being shown again in the early 1990s by the BBC. The tour and film coincided with a prolific time in Bowie’s recording and acting career. During the summer of 1974, Bowie started recording at Sigma Studios Philadelphia for what became the “Young Americans” LP. MORE

RELATED: The Sigma Kids didn’t just meet David Bowie. For one night they were his confidantes, his buds–underage kids for whom he bought wine and champagne! And fresh corned beef sandwiches! Sandwiches they were too nervous to eat! Yeah, and he played Young Americans for them–straight from the master tape–before RCA’s label execs heard it and certainly before you heard it. You who weren’t there to hear Bowie debut his version of the Philly Soul sound. But here it is, as best it can be laid down, given the smoke and white powder and years that obscure this tale: the Sigma sessions and the Sigma Kids, a story that ends with Marla Kanevsky’s entire superfan life. Camping out for tickets seems like no big deal these days, but the Sigma Kids raised it to unparalleled heights. They spent two weeks straight sleeping in the streets so they could do things like watch Bowie walk from the Barclay on Rittenhouse Square to his limo. Then they’d dash off to their cars, driving as fast as they could to reach Sigma Sound Studios before he got there. “If he was already out of his limo when we were pulling up,” remembers Patti Brett, “we would stop our cars in the middle of the street, get out and halt traffic just to say ‘Hi’ to him again.” Over time the Kids got friendly with the studio staff and the Bowie entourage, especially guitarist Carlos Alomar. Sometimes Bowie would chat with them. He eventually learned their names: Marla, Patti, Leslie, Purple–about a dozen in all. No one remembers who made the announcement that Bowie had decided to throw a party for them when the sessions wrapped. What they do remember is that they were led into the studio late at night, their hearts thudding in their chests. Dagmar, a one-named rock photographer, documented the party. She remembers Marla Kanevsky because she was “a pretty little girl, and very emotional. You could see it was a very deep experience for her. She held Bowie’s hand for a while. When he let go, she held hands with her friends.” Kanevsky herself doesn’t remember much, except asking Bowie to marry her. MORE