Geoff MacCormack was by David Bowie's side from their primary school days to touring the world. His new photographic memoir gives a unique and intimate insight into the man who changed music.

Singer, songwriter and producer Geoff MacCormack was by David Bowie's side from their primary school days to touring the world. His new photographic memoir gives a unique and intimate insight into the man who changed music.

When David Bowie calls you up and asks you to join him on tour, you say yes. For singer, songwriter and producer Geoff MacCormack, the decision was even more obvious. The pair first met at Burnt Ash Primary School in Bromley in the mid-1950s, when Bowie was just a boy known as David Jones, and remained friends from there. MacCormack was Bowie’s constant companion from childhood, through fame, and until the end. For over 60 years, they were joined in a whirlwind of music discovery and music-making – much of which is captured in MacCormack’s new photographic memoir David Bowie: Rock ‘n’ Roll with Me.

David Bowie with Geoff MacCormack on the set of ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’.

Intimate and full of references so specific you can almost smell the pub carpets and stage make-up, the book provides an account of Bowie’s life that could only come from a lifelong friend, as we follow the pair from The Starlight Rooms in Brighton, where Bowie performed in June 1965 as Davy Jones and The Lower Third, to their final exchanges before his passing in January 2016. On the way we pass through the Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane tours, shooting The Man Who Fell to Earth, the recording of Station to Station and beyond, with over 150 rare and unseen images giving sudden colour and movement to MacCormack’s writing. The touching afterword comes courtesy of David Bowie himself. 

Since MacCormack, also known as Warren Peace, had no formal photography training, the images capture a side to Bowie not often seen in carefully curated studio imagery or artistically poised artwork. Whether he’s napping on the Trans-Siberian Express or caught in the middle of a sentence, they show glimpses of the man behind the many personas.

“Those holiday snaps, as I call them, are sometimes even better than the one where he looks wonderful and heroic, which in a lot of them he does,” MacCormack told The Guardian, when some of the images in Rock ‘n’ Roll with Me being exhibited at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery from October 2020 to June 2021. “They’re holiday snaps really.”

It’s a beautiful and generous project – a rare kind of memoir that gives a remarkable insight into a friendship between two men who shared their love for music from the moment they met to their final farewells. It also, undoubtedly, answers some of the questions one might have about what it was actually like touring, recording, and travelling with the man who changed music. 

David Bowie: Rock ‘n’ Roll with Me is available now through ACC Art Books.

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