Radio and TV presenter tells how it was love at first sight with Bowie

Mark Radcliffe. (s)
Mark Radcliffe. (s)

Like so many pop pickers of a certain generation, David Bowie provided the sound track to their teenage years writes Tony Dewhurst.

But for Mark Radcliffe the Thin White Duke, swaggering through Starman on Top of the Pops, transformed his life.

“For me, it all began with Top of the Pops,” recalled BBC radio and TV presenter Radcliffe who will chat about his career in the music industry at a special spoken word event at the Grand, Clitheroe on Wednesday (October 26th)

“I guess I was just waiting for Pan’s People really.

“And suddenly, without warning, there he was, playing a blue guitar, wearing a snake skinned cat suit, and I felt like I was witnessing something from another galaxy.

“I’d never heard, or indeed seen, anyone remotely like Bowie before and it was the first music I remember that seemed to speak to me directly.

“The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan were regarded by me and my mates as something handed down to us by parents or elder siblings.

“Bowie was ours and it was love at first sight.”

Radcliffe was still at school in Bolton when he saw Bowie perform in Manchester at a long defunct venue called Hard Rock, now a B&Q superstore next to Old Trafford Cricket Ground, where, remarkably, 30 years later he would be introducing Bowie at a rain-lashed festival.

“To think that a Bolton boy who stood in the front stalls should eventually come to know the actual Ziggy Stardust personally blows my mind to this day,” he added.

When Bowie appeared on Radcliffe’s Radio One afternoon show before that Old Trafford show in 2002, he sat in a scruffy office giggling over a copy of Radcliffe’s Viz Annual.

“Here was the creator of Ziggy, Hunky Dory and Aladdin Sane sniggering over the exploits of Roger Mellie and Billy The Fish. Unbelievable.

“So great are his artistic achievements you would expect to meet a serious and intense man but he was the most charming of company.”

Radcliffe says that if he was forced to take five LP’s to a desert island then two of them would be Ziggy Stardust and Hunky Dory.

“Introducing Bowie at Old Trafford was off the scale, but I think the most incredible meeting was backstage at Hammersmith Odeon where many years before he had sensationally killed off his Ziggy Stardust character.

“I had been invited to introduce him live on stage and he asked me into his dressing room to ask my opinion on that night’s greatest hits set list.

“I was close to having an out of body experience.

“Here was my idol, the man who fell to earth, asking an opinion from the Lancashire lad who had paid £1.25 to stand in awe and wander in front of the Hardrock stage where B&Q now display vinyl flooring.

“How had that happened?

“He was the closest thing I’ve ever had to a hero.

“And not just for one day. For a lifetime.”

Mark Radcliffe: The Grand, Clitheroe, October 26th, Box office: 01200 421599.