Cameron Crowe’s Roadies, a new series about touring rock bands, premieres on Showtime later this year, and in a TCA panel Tuesday the filmmaker and former journalist opened up about his relationship with the late musician David Bowie. “He was the most generous and exciting interview subject that I was ever allowed a lot of time with,” said Crowe, who wrote extensively about Bowie and his peers in the mid-’70s.
Crowe recounted how he met Bowie and eventually spent much of 1975 covering the rocker. “I’d been profiling some friends of his during a period where Bowie himself had done no interviews, and I had told these musician friends of his, ‘Boy, I would really like to interview David Bowie,’” Crowe explained. “I was 16. So they were like, ‘Yeah. We’ll let David Bowie know you want to interview him.’”
But Bowie eventually called Crowe. The musician told the budding journalist that he had just split from his manager and was headed to Los Angeles — where he didn’t “know that many people” — where he’d be able to do an interview with Crowe, who lived in San Diego. “I spend six months straight with David Bowie at that time … basically I was in this whirlwind with him in the period between [1975’s] Young Americans and [1976’s] Station to Station,” Crowe said. “There were no limits. Everything was discussed. He said, ‘Ask me anything. Watch me create. Watch me produce. Watch me sad. Watch me happy.’ And it was an incredibly vital experience. … The amazing thing that I come away with is that even then, which was kind of a wild period in his life, he was always obsessed with music and art and never the business.”
Crowe summed up Bowie’s legacy with an homage to his signature penchant for reinvention. “David Bowie’s impact is so huge in that he presents himself now as a role model to artists that may need to remember that it’s not about branding,” Crowe said. “It’s about a restless need to be creative and to continue being creative, and David Bowie was the anti-branding artist … it’s great to look to Bowie and see that seismic effect he’s had on people, not because he kept doing the same thing that worked again and again, but because he always shook it up and he always served the gods of creativity, and that was the lesson I got from him then and today.”