15 episodes

Off the Record is a new in-depth music biography series that profiles the extraordinary life of an iconic artist over the course of each season. Music journalist Jordan Runtagh (People, Rolling Stone, EW and VH1) offers a revelatory look at the human behind the hits through rich, dramatic storytelling, extensive research, and interviews with those who knew them best. You know the songs, now meet the legends.  

Off The Record: David Bowi‪e‬ iHeartRadio

    • Music History
    • 4.9 • 7 Ratings

Off the Record is a new in-depth music biography series that profiles the extraordinary life of an iconic artist over the course of each season. Music journalist Jordan Runtagh (People, Rolling Stone, EW and VH1) offers a revelatory look at the human behind the hits through rich, dramatic storytelling, extensive research, and interviews with those who knew them best. You know the songs, now meet the legends.  

    Bonus Episode: Music Legend Ken Scott Recalls Co-Producing 'Ziggy Stardust,' 'Hunky Dory' and More Bowie Classics

    Bonus Episode: Music Legend Ken Scott Recalls Co-Producing 'Ziggy Stardust,' 'Hunky Dory' and More Bowie Classics

    We’re taking a quick a quick midseason break from our story this week; we’ll have the next chapter of Bowie’s life for you on Monday, March 8th! But today we have something extra special in store — a conversation with Mr. Ken Scott, the man who co-produced a string of Bowie’s most beloved albums, including Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, and Aladdin Sane. For most people, that’s enough bragging rights to last a lifetime, yet it’s just a small part of Ken’s legendary career. On his first day as an engineer at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios, he was enlisted to assist a little band called the Beatles. (No pressure, right?). The list of names he’s worked with reads like a roll call for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame: Elton John, Lou Reed, Jeff Beck, Harry Nilsson, Supertramp, Devo, Duran Duran, Procol Harum — and, of course, Bowie. His 2012 memoir, Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust, provides illuminating insights on how these classics came together in the studio. Tune in as Ken goes deep with Jordan on making some of Bowie’s best. 
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    • 43 min
    Bonus Episode: Tony Zanetta Reflects on His Wild Days on the Road as Bowie’s ‘Ziggy’-era Tour Manager and MainMan President

    Bonus Episode: Tony Zanetta Reflects on His Wild Days on the Road as Bowie’s ‘Ziggy’-era Tour Manager and MainMan President

    Tony Zanetta is a crucial figure in New York’s experimental downtown drama scene of late '60s and early ‘70s. He first entered David Bowie’s orbit as a cast member of Andy Warhol's play ‘Pork’ in 1971 (co-starring with last week's guest, Cherry Vanilla.) Soon he would be swept up in the whirlwind of David's management company, MainMan, headed up by Bowie's larger than life manager, Tony DeFries. In practice, the organization was more like an elaborate performance piece than a strict bottom-line business. This may explain way DeFries hired Zanetta to be MainMan's president despite his total lack of business experience. Zanetta would later be drafted into a much more demanding role as David's tour manager, overseeing the treks for Ziggy Stardust and Diamond Dogs. Keeping the show on the road and the egos in check, all with a daily operating budget of close to zero dollars? It wasn’t a job for the faint of heart! Zanetta spoke to Jordan about those thrilling days on tour with David, as his star soared to new heights — and how everything changed in an instant.
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    • 1 hr 11 min
    Chapter Six: Aladdin Sane (1972-1973)

    Chapter Six: Aladdin Sane (1972-1973)

    The American sibling of Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane was born on the road as David Bowie embarked on his triumphant first tour of the United States. With his face bisected by his trademark lightning bolt, the character reflects an artist coming apart at the seams. It seemed like everything David had worked towards was coming through, yet he felt more confused than ever. His finances were a mess. His marriage was beginning to disintegrate. He was exhausted — mentally, physically and spiritually. The multiple identities he had crafted originally brought him personal and creative freedom. Now they threatened to tear him in two. As the name suggests, Aladdin Sane is a troubling self-portrait of a man on the edge. To pull himself back from the abyss, he’d had to take his biggest risk to date, and kill off his most beloved creation. 
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    • 1 hr 12 min
    Bonus Episode: Warhol Superstar Cherry Vanilla Opens Up About Her Friendship with David Bowie and Helping Launch Ziggy Stardust

    Bonus Episode: Warhol Superstar Cherry Vanilla Opens Up About Her Friendship with David Bowie and Helping Launch Ziggy Stardust

    Ziggy Stardust wouldn’t have been the same without the help of David Bowie’s new friends from the cast of Andy Warhol’s play, ‘Pork.’ The groundbreaking avant garde theatrical production shocked audiences by taking aim at pretty much every social taboo you could imagine — and maybe a few you can't. David loved it, but he loved the cast even more. He was entranced by their bold style, an unmissable blend of gritty New York street and gaudy old Hollywood glamor. They, in turn, appreciated David's own brand of artistic fearlessness. In short, they were kindred spirts. 
    The ‘Pork’ crowd would have a marked effect on David's life and career, changing his relationship to performance and inspiring him to new creative heights. They also had a hand in launching him into the pop stratosphere. David's manager, Tony Defries, tapped the Warholites to head up the New York office of his management company, MainMan. Though few had any actual business experience, they made it work. 
    In the latest bonus episode of 'Off the Record,' Jordan spoke to genuine Warhol superstar and alternative arts scene legend, Ms. Cherry Vanilla. After starring in the London production of ‘Pork,’ she was hired to work at MainMan as Bowie's public relations manager. Unlike most of her Warhol compatriots, she actually had a substantial professional background, having worked in the real-life ‘Mad Men’ world of advertising in the mid-'60s. The experience would come in handy when hyping David to the world. It was she who crafted some of the enduring myths and tall tales that surround his legend to this day. For a glorious stretch in the early '70s, she and David were friends, lovers and artistic comrades. 
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    • 57 min
    Chapter Five: Ziggy Stardust (1971-1972)

    Chapter Five: Ziggy Stardust (1971-1972)

    At last, a starman is born. The arrival of Ziggy Stardust brought David Bowie the fame he'd been working towards for nearly a decade. Fusing innovative fashion, avant-garde theatrical flair, far out sci-fi and killer song craft, he transformed rock 'n' roll into concept art. But he didn't do it alone. The latest installment explores the genesis of Bowie's most iconic creation, with influences ranging from Warholian speed freaks to teen idol burnouts to '50s pulp TV shows and a cult American country act. Once Ziggy arrived, Bowie's life was changed forever. So were millions of others. Find out how the album 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars' touched every aspect of popular culture, including music, film, fashion, social and sexual mores, and the very nature of fame itself. Note: This episode should be played at maximum volume. 
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    • 1 hr 5 min
    Bonus Episode: Michael Oberman Recalls Hosting David Bowie on His First Night in America in 1971

    Bonus Episode: Michael Oberman Recalls Hosting David Bowie on His First Night in America in 1971

    The latest chapter of ‘Off the Record’ opens with David Bowie’s first trip to the United States in January of 1971. The arrival was a triumph for David — until he was detained by customs officials for his feminine clothes. He received a warmer welcome Ron Oberman, his press agent set to greet him by his label, Mercury Records. Ron was joined by his entire family — his mom, his dad, and his younger brother, music journalist Michael Oberman. The Oberman’s welcomed the young, unknown singer into their family, sharing their suburban home and taking him out for a meal at a local steakhouse. 
    David’s first night in the States has gone down in Bowie legend as an important early step in his journey to global superstardom. The trip is the plot of a new film, Stardust, a movie that has been deemed controversial for its liberal reinterpretation of historical events. Ron Oberman, an instrumental force in Bowie’s early career, died in 2019. But his brother Michael recounted the famous visit in his new book, Fast Forward, Play and Rewind. A memoir of sorts, the book also collects Michael’s interviews with over a hundred rock legends ranging from Janis Joplin and James Brown to the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Leon Russell, Emitt Rhodes, Little Feat — and of course David. 
    Jordan spoke with Michael about his remarkable career as a music journalist, and that special night with David Bowie in his parents living room back in 1971. 
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    • 38 min

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