THE sudden death of David Bowie earlier this week was a surprise to many of his fans here in West Cork. What was more surprising was that it was just days after he celebrated his 69th birthday, along with the release of what has become his final album, Blackstar.
While tributes poured in from fans and fellow artists from around the world, locals recalled how the legendary performer passed through West Cork on his travels and visited De Barra’s in Clonakilty during the 1980s.
The singer, famous for his numerous hits, including Life on Mars and Space Oddity, was in Cork visiting Noel Redding, former bass player with The Jimi Hendrix Experience, who had taken up residency in West Cork. Noel was a regular visitor to DeBarra’s and the two musicians called in there on one particular evening, much to the surprise of the customers gathered at the bar, as well as owner Bobby Blackwell.
‘They were both in fine fettle and David was humble and gracious and in great spirits,’ Ray Blackwell of DeBarra’s told The Southern Star.
‘At the time my dad Bobby used to keep an old camera behind the bar for just such instances, as such magic moments were, and still are, regular occurrences here in DeBarra’s. However, on this occasion the camera could not be found and Dad was working behind the bar by himself, so he did his best to look for it while serving customers at the same time.’
But, thankfully, David Bowie’s driver left the bar and re-appeared with a picture of the singer, which is still hanging on the bar’s wall of fame, next to The Jimi Hendrix Experience platinum records and other rock memorabilia that makes De Barra’s such a famous venue.
‘As the story goes, David was in very good form when he signed the picture and gave it to my dad. To this day Dad still regrets not getting a picture with David and Noel.He mentions this every now and again when he passes the signed portrait.’