How David Bowie’s name change was inspired by Norwich City College band
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2010
He leaves a legacy of music across the globe – from Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads, just as he sang on Life On Mars.
And as East Anglia paid tribute to David Bowie, his many connections to the region were fondly remembered.
Some lucky readers may recall the Thin White Duke's sellout gig at Norwich Theatre Royal in 1973, shortly after the release of Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust.
Fewer people will know that Bowie had changed his name to David Jay before he found wider fame, inspired by the band Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers who were formed at Norwich City College.
Peter Jay now runs the Hippodrome Circus in Great Yarmouth.
And one man recalled how David Bowie asked to join his band at a 1964 Lowestoft gig – and was snubbed.
Rod Scott, 70, from Beyton, near Bury St Edmunds, in Suffolk, played bass in The Raiders in the early sixties and performed at a concert with the then David Jones, aged 17, who was part of a band called The Riot Squad.
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Mr Scott said: 'The Riot Squad seemed to be a band that changed members more often than they changed their socks.
'They were quite raucous and rough and ready.
'David was very well spoken. After the gig he asked if he could join our band.'
However, Mr Scott's band mate Brian Seaman turned him down as they already had enough members.
Peter Wilson, chief executive of Norwich Theatre Royal, described Bowie's appearance at the city venue as a 'tremendous coup'.
Bowie appeared as Ziggy Stardust in May 1973, performing in two concerts as part of the theatre's Superstar Carnival Week – which also featured Jimmy Tarbuck and Monty Python's Flying Circus.
'There was a huge demand for Bowie tickets with people queuing right down to the city's Woolworths store – now Marks and Spencer – to try to secure seats,' he said.
'Theatre staff at the time also reported touts outside the building selling tickets for at least double the value to people desperate to see him on stage while in his Ziggy Stardust phase.'
Hethersett man Peter Steward, 63, was at the gig and said he remembered it as special – as it came at the height of Bowie's fame, before his so-called Berlin period that some fans struggled with.
Bowie also performed at the former Orford Cellar in Red Lion Street, Norwich during the 1960s.
Others to play the venue included Jimi Hendrix, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton and Elton John, and this is commemorated with a blue plaque.
Musician Rick Wakeman, who lives near Diss, played the piano on Life on Mars and other Bowie tracks.
Mr Wakeman, who is the former keyboardist in prog rock band Yes, said: 'As I'm sure you can imagine I'm gutted hearing of David's passing.
'He was the biggest influence and encouragement I could ever have wished for.'
Yesterday fans paid their respects at Norwich Arts Centre as the music venue played Bowie songs all afternoon.
Pasco Kevlin, director of the arts centre, said: 'When I heard the news I just needed to sit somewhere and mark the day by listening to Bowie on some big speakers.
'When I came in and saw the faces of my staff, I knew that they needed to do that too, so this was my way of helping my fellow fans grieve.
Sarah Lascelles, 33 of Norwich, whose favourite track is John, I'm Only Dancing, was there.
'He could break boundaries like nobody else could,' she said. 'Even his latest album did that, so he was doing it right until the end.'
Poppy Marriott, 18, whose favourite song is Heroes, said: 'I was brought up on him and he's heavily influenced me as a person.
'His music has helped me through so much.'
Bowie also visited the region in 1967 with a gig at the Assembly Rooms in Church Street, Framlingham as lead singer of The Riot Squad.
And former chamber maid Sarah Kings has an unusual memory of Bowie's visit to Norwich in 1973.
Miss Kings, of Ashby St Mary, worked in the Post House hotel in Hall Road at the time.
She managed to get hold of one of Bowie's make-up stained towels as a memento, cutting it in half with a colleague for each to treasure.
But the 59-year-old lost it after several house moves.
'I'm devastated,' she said.
Tell us your memories and thoughts on David Bowie's death. Write to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email firstname.lastname@example.org