Before Cameron Crowe made his way into film and television, he was a contributor for Rolling Stone. As a journalist passionately covering rock music, one of his favorite interview subjects was David Bowie.
“He was the most generous and exciting interview subject that I was ever allowed a lot of time with — and that all came from David Bowie,” Crowe said Tuesday, just two days after Bowie’s sudden passing. The music icon died at the age of 69, after an 18-month battle with cancer.
Speaking at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif., where he was on hand to support his upcoming Showtime rock band series “Roadies,” Crowe told a story of when he was 16 years old and was desperate to interview Bowie. “I’d been profiling some friends of his in a period when Bowie was doing no interviews,” Crowe said, explaining that he got in contact with Bowie’s friends, telling them how badly he wanted to meet the musician. Soon after getting in touch with his friends, Bowie cold-called Crowe, then a teenager.
“The phone rang one night,” Crowe said. Bowie was on a train headed to Los Angeles and told the young journalist he could meet him once he arrived in California. Crowe didn’t believe it would actually ever happen, but Bowie stayed true to his word. “I spent six months straight with David Bowie at that time. Basically, I was in this whirlwind in the period between ‘Young Americans’ and ‘Station to Station,'” the producer said, referring to the two mid-’70s albums.
“Thank goodness I kept notes on every aspect on it,” Crowe continued. “There were no limits. Everything was discussed. He said ask me anything, watch me create, watch me produce, watch me sad, watch me happy. He said you can do this story for whoever you want, so everyone wanted this story so it was a great help to my career.”
Now, 40 years later, Crowe emphasized Bowie’s commitment to creativity. He brought up his passion for recognizing emerging talent. “He was always obsessed with music and art and never the business,” he said. “Bruce Springsteen was somebody that caught his attention on the first album.”
A thoughtful Crowe told the room of journalists and critics, “The thing that I just wanted to say over the past couple of days is David Bowie’s impact is so huge in that he presents himself as a role model to artists who need to remember it’s not about branding. It’s about a restless need to be creative. David Bowie was the ultimate anti-branding artist. He always shook it up and he always served the gods of creativity.’