THE recent death of David Bowie bought back memories for Redruth man Vivian Burt who greeted the then unknown superstar prior to his gig in Falmouth in 1968.
Vivian met him off the train when he arrived in Cornwall to play at the Princess Pavilion on Boxing Day.
“He still owes me a cup of coffee,” says Vivian. “He had no shillings when he arrived and I had to buy him one in the local café.”
Vivian, now 71, had only just moved to Cornwall at the time and recalls meeting Bowie at Redruth Station as a favour to his friend, DJ Gerry Gill.
He was living in a tent when he struck up a friendship with the former pirate radio DJ (not the local radio station!) and event promoter.
Gerry had invited him to stay in his place, a concrete chalet round the back of a house in Illogan where Bowie would also stay for a few days.
“Gerry was a very, very good DJ whose mission it was to educate the people of Cornwall into the ways of new music,” said Vivian. “He was excellent.”
“He seemed to know everybody on the music scene and he knew David Bowie. I knew he was putting on a show and I was helping him set it up. One day he said to me ’I can’t be around for the day can you meet a chap off the train for me. He’s called David Bowie’.
“Now at this time I had no idea who David Bowie was. I’d never heard of him. Gerry said he recites poetry and does mime.
“I thought this sounded interesting as I was used to this sort of thing having been around it in the west end of London.
“I met him off the train. He was on his own. The first thing that struck me was he had a brown and blue eye. There wasn’t anything extraordinary about him otherwise, he just sort of blended in. Sort of chap you’d just have walked past without giving him a second glance. He was just an ordinary chap.
“I asked him if he was David Bowie. He said ‘yes’ and I explained that Gerry couldn’t make it and had asked me to meet him.”
The pair walked down the hill and Vivian took him to a coffee house called Quasar where he bought him a cup of coffee as he had no money.
“I remember it very clearly,” said Vivian. “I had to buy him a cup of coffee. He didn’t have an awful lot of stuff with him. I then think Gerry must have arrived and we parted company.
Because of family commitments, Vivian was out of the county when the gig took place at Falmouth’s Princess Pavilion on Boxing Day 1968 and he missed it.
“When I got back Gerry seemed to think the gig had gone very well but I cannot imagine many people went. I was disappointed that I couldn’t have been there. Gerry always put on a good show.
“I didn’t spend enough time with David Bowie. I was in awe of him.”