On the Saturday afternoon between Bowie concerts, several BDU members
came together for a one-off walking tour of Sydney.
The idea was to visit places of Bowie note in central Sydney but rather
than offer a fully guided tour such as that of London
Walks and their Beatles Tours of London, I handed out leaflets to
inform people of the sites we intended to visit.
Our meet up location was The Strand Arcade on the west side of Pitt Street
Several scenes of Bowie's LET'S DANCE video were filmed here in the early 80s.
Among the actors were two Aborigines - a dance student named Joelene and
her partner Terry.
About a dozen Bowie fans joined for the tour - some familiar faces and
some new ones who had found us via the internet. The tiny cafe we decided
to meet in quickly reached capacity.....so we moved on.
|The Strand (1892) was the last arcade built in Victorian
Sydney. It is now a treasure trove of eclectic design, antiques, jewellery
Note: The shop called 'Bowie' is actually the store of local fashion designer Bowie Wong.
Captures from Let's Dance filmed at The Strand.
After visiting some local music stores, we left Pitt Street and headed
across to Castlereigh Street for Studio 301 - the only known music studios
used by David Bowie in Australia. Bruce and Julie's amazing experience
of meeting Bowie and Tin Machine members at these studios back in 1989
can be read here.
Studio 301 today. Photo by Adam Dean
Julie and Bruce with Bowie and Gabrels.
Studio 301 in 1989.
Inside, we met mastering engineer Don
Bartley. Don has worked with such artists as The Church, INXS, Alanis
Morissette, Olivia Newton John, Sigur Ros, Paul Kelly, Silverchair and
Powderfinger and he kindly showed us around the studios.
Studio 301 and Don Bartley
Lorena (who confessed to be more of a general music nut than a Bowie nut)
recognised Mr Bartley straight away and was notably excited to have met
Included in the photo below are Chihito, Yasuko, Sally, Simone, Adam,
Lorena, Chas, Louise, Mark and Daniel.
Studio 301 with the Bowie group. Photo by Don Bartley.
Apparently, quite a bit has changed since Bowie worked here. Today, the
studios at Castlereigh Street specialise in mastering while the recording
portion has been moved out to Alexandria and another studio again has
been set up at Byron Bay.
Recently installed is Australia's most expensive recording console (the
60 channel Neve 88R) while the history of Studio 301 goes back to the
original Columbia Gramophone Studio which opened in Homebush in 1926 -
the world's second oldest studio. It is still very much a state of the art studio - Tony Visconti had this to say about it in more recently:
"I have spent two months at Studios 301 and I must report that the studio and staff were far above and beyond my expectations.
With many of the world class studios closing their doors these days Studios 301 is thriving because they've got it right. The equipment is on everyone's dream list. The staff is extremely knowledgeable, friendly and courteous.
I would go further and say that Sydney is a wonderful cosmopolitan, yet laid back, city in which to record long term projects. It's more than worth the journey from anywhere on the planet to record at such a fabulous facility as Studios 301."
History indicates that the most recent Bowie
recording to have been worked on at Studio 301 is the Marius de Vries
remix of 'Survive' (1999). Australian artist, Brendan Gallagher added
guitar to the mix - one of the very last items recorded before the Castlereigh Street studio was overhauled and tuned toward mastering.
While we were at the studios, the latest Midnight Oil DVD was being mastered.
You can see Peter Garrett on the right monitor below:
Studio 301. Photo by Adam D.
Leaving the studios, we headed for the journalist's drinking hole, The
Evening Star Hotel in Surrey Hills. This was one of Bowie's old haunts
- a place where he spent several evenings while recording the second Tin
In 2004, David said he wouldn't quite have time to return to the pub:
"I think we'll only have time for one quick spin around the Harbour".
The Evening Star has been remodeled in the last few years and the apartment
block above (where BDU member Steve Harrington lived for some time) has
been added since Bowie's visitation here.
Finally, Bowie fans had the chance to sit down, consume some beverages
and have a good chat. Whilst seated, I got people to write down a few
Rise and Fall.....
Bowie fans at The Evening Star Hotel
Finally, one location we never got to visit was Elizabeth Bay - the place
where Bowie owned an apartment. I
did not discover the exact location until a few months later. You can
read about that here.
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