News

Dylan Jones: 'There aren't modern Bowies... We have Instagram now'

"There are far better scholars on David Bowie than me," claims Dylan Jones.

Yet while he's humble about his extensive knowledge on The Thin White Duke, in conversation with Peter York at a packed Groucho Club, it is obvious he is more well informed than most.

Jones, the long-standing editor of British GQ, was there to introduce his new book, David Bowie: A Life, his second biography of the star following 2012's When Ziggy Played Guitar.

More than 150 interviews went into the making of the book, with "people who knew Bowie, not necessarily people who had issue with him." It was these that informed the hour-long discussion which covered everything from Ziggy to Lazarus.

'As important as the Beatles'

Jones' interest in the superstar began in 1972 after seeing him perform as Ziggy Stardust on Top of the Pops.

"Some people wanted to dress like Bowie, some people wanted to buy his records, some people wanted to go and see him in concert. Regardless, everybody was interested."

"Bowie was a important to the 70s as the Beatles had been to the 60s," he added.

'An extraordinary piece of music'

The chat was accompanied by video footage of select tracks, including 1977's Heroes. One of Bowie's most well know tracks, it's still regularly heard on television and radio, with its popularity showing no sign of waning.

"[Heroes] is still regarded as an extraordinary piece of music, but it's also been acknowledged and embraced by the world as this piece of music that is played when people win things," explained Jones.

"It was played at the Olympics and it's always played on television when people win. It should be corny now.

"The experience should somehow be diminished by having heard it thousands and thousands of times. But it doesn't, it doesn't for me."

A bad actor - but that's no surprise

Obviously an avid fan, nonetheless Jones didn't shy away from criticising Bowie's works.

"He wasn't a very good actor, but I don't think that was a shock to anyone," he commented, before moving onto the singers 80s' projects.

"[Bowie] produced some records that were awful and some that were brilliant," he explains. "I'm not here to tell people which records to like... But nobody liked Tin Machine.

"Even the Tin Machine didn't like the Tin Machine."

'Others didn't know what to think'

The evening was broadly chronological, beginning with Ziggy, and closing with comments on his final album Blackstar. The record was released just two days before the star's death in January last year.

On Lazurus, Jones said: "Some thought it was a masterpiece and a very fitting end. Others didn't know what to think."

Regardless though, the album topped the charts in several countries including the UK and US following Bowie's death.

Jones knows what he thinks of the compilation though: "It wasn't just sentimentality, it was very good work."

In a reflective end, Jones was asked whether there were any 21st century 'David Bowies'.

"The narrative arc of the great era of pop music is reaching its end," replied Jones. "People don't need David Bowie in the way they needed him 40 years ago because we've got Instagram and we've got everything else. I don't think there are any modern David Bowies."

 

Become a member

JOIN THE MEDIA SOCIETY FOR £5/month