david bowie and ian paisley in the 1970’s

as much as i was never one for falling into line,i can’t help but doff my hat along with everyone else to david bowie on his 65th birthday.

y’know the first time i saw him on telly i didn’t quite catch his name,
but the next day i was brooding around my northern irish seaside hometown…wondering who that beautiful freak was,and did anyone know anything about him.

a more potent bowie memory was one year later when my father retired from the royal air force..
we left that gorgeous rock n roll seaside where i was raised , for a farming town slightly inland where my father bought a pub.
my bedroom was on the top floor overlooking the town square.
in the summer ian paisley would visit and preach his heavy metal from the back of a truck outside the northern bank…
it was strangely similar to how elvis presley presented his earliest outdoor performances, using a loading truck as a stage to perform from.

ian paisley even had a formidable quiff…
the locals would gather round and listen , but i had a birdseye view,three floors up,and 25 yards away from my bedroom.
i sat there huddled up on the window ledge watching the preacherman in glorious solitude…
i couldn’t hear a word ian paisley was saying,cause i had my little record player fired up listening to david bowie records.
for me that’s quite a juxtaposition…the vision of ian paisley ,and the sound of david bowie…
it was 1973..aladdin sane was fresh off the press.i felt defined in that moment..i found clarity in what i was buying into,and even more importantly…in what i wasn’t buying into.

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7 Responses to david bowie and ian paisley in the 1970’s

  1. Rab says:

    I once threatened to put a band together called the Elvis Paisley Experience. Alas nobody would join.

    You touch on something really interesting here: there is a link between Ian Paisley and Rock ‘n’ Roll. I’ve always thought that. I used to see those little ladies dressed up in their Sunday finery, enraptured by his discourse, and I’d think, given other circumstances they could be at a Beatles’ gig screaming their heads off down the front. Ian Paisley could rock. Secretly, I think he knew it.

    I don’t think Paisley and those ‘manic street preachers’ made in his image are sexually repressed at all. I think they take all their libidinal energies and directed it into their religion. I remember reading a history of Ulster Unionism by a guy called Peter Gibbon. He wrote a chapter dealing with the rise of what he described as ‘Protestant enthusiasm’ in 19th century Ireland – these were the puritanical, fundamentalist forefathers of Paisleyism. Gibbon attributed their arrival to the migration of young men to America and the leaving behind of loads of young women, with no prospect of a husband (and subsequently looking at long sexless lives). There are loads of accounts at the time of young women taking ‘fits’ – throwing themselves on the ground, writhing around and speaking in ‘tongues’. Some of the contemporary verbatim accounts recall that the women used language steeped in sexual innuendo – ‘Come onto the Lord’, ‘Oh, the Lord has come’, ‘The Lord has come into me’. The ‘established church was alarmed by this and seemed to recogonise a sexual undertone to these fits. The lowly locals on the other hand thought the girls were possessed by the Lord. Gibbon suspects that they were sexually frustrated and the spark that ignites evangelical Protestantism in the North of Ireland was down to this.

    To be honest, I’m not entirely convinced by Gibbon’s argument. But I really, really want to believe it. I really want to belief that the sort of religious fundamentalism espoused by Paisley and his ilk is the result of people needing a good fuck. Even though Gibbon might be historically wrong, I think there is some deeper truth in what he is saying ;0)

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    • i believe it … the “save ulster from sodomy” campaign reinforces gibbons notion… people struggling and wrestling with sex at three o’clock in the afternoon,instead of getting on and doing the hoovering.

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  2. Pete Bridgstock says:

    Hi Gregory, nice piece, I look forward these days but approaching 60 I think the brain starts to look backwards more often as i keep recalling odd things: I first saw Bowie playing the saxophone on the street near hammersmith in the mid sixties of course I had nonidea who he was at the time. I went to BTs training school in lieth in the mid seventies and spent a few months in edinburgh I remember virgins record store with airplane seats as listening booths and I may have even heard you spin. Though I don’t smoke any more weed gave me the chance to hear music as seperate instruments playing which years later came in a lot of use when I got to play with macs GarageBand software. Ill stop rambling now Be well peter

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    • i remember the tiny virgin records shop in edinburgh..cockburn street..an upward hilly street near the castle….i love that city pete…and i hear you about the dope..it can leave doors open in your mind,even when you stop using it….much love to you and matthew.

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  3. martin says:

    i remember bowie doing starman on top of the pops with his arm around mick ronson the next day at school there was a full assebly and my head master gave us all a lecture on the evils of homosexuality and made a point of mentioning bowies performance the nite before i went straight home saved up and got the space odditty hunkydory and ziggy albums one by one my most memorable memory of bowie was when he did friars at alylesbury he did a walk round the town and an angry father punched him in the face it was in the papers ect jhon im only dancing had just been released and tho its one of my personal faves it wasnt charting well

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    • its amazing the headmaster didn’t realise his rant was the supreme promotion for *starman*…bowie and RCA records would have been delighted…i played in aylesbury…it was called ‘friars’….and i think i did a uni there too.

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      • martin says:

        I used to go to friars regally about the hair in those days flour and perm lotion definatly would have made curly hair straight afro caribians used it in the 60s to get straight hair long before commercial relaxers and straightning irons x

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