Ricochet: David Bowie 1983: An Intimate Portrait by Denis O’Regan - book review

Ricochet: David Bowie 1983: An Intimate Portrait by Denis ORegan
Ricochet: David Bowie 1983: An Intimate Portrait by Denis ORegan
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There are more images of David Bowie between the hardback covers of this book than you could ever hope to shake a selfie stick at.

Not just live stage action, of which there is plenty – from the late star’s trademark theatrics to mime – but also unguarded snapshots of the performer at his most relaxed.

Yet Ricochet is neither paparazzi plunder nor part of the assembly line of posthumous cash-ins. Rather, it brings together a stunning collection of over 300 personal pictures – many shared for the first time ever – taken by legendary rock photographer Denis O’Regan.

The lensman has toured the world with Bowie, Queen, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Duran Duran, and was the official photographer for events ranging from Live Aid to Concert for Diana.

He and Bowie were collaborating on the Ricochet project, and each image was personally approved by the man himself, just before his untimely death in January 2016.

In these days of instant uploads, you have to keep remembering as you pore over the pages that the eye-catching contents of this celebrity catalogue were created a staggering 35 years ago when smart phones were still the stuff of science fiction.

O’Regan worked with Bowie for the entire nine months of his 1983 Serious Moonlight tour – a true golden year – which featured just short of 100 concerts in more than 60 cities, selling 2.4 million tickets.

In those pre-digital camera days O’Regan was unable to see – or indeed share with his paymaster – any instant fruits of his labour but, as he reveals in his six-page introduction, he saved up his exposed rolls of film for 10 days or so and would deliver them to a processing laboratory in a major city.

Then he and Bowie would watch them as a carousel of slides in the privacy of a hotel room, deciding which ones should be retained, and it is perhaps testimony to O’Regan’s eye for his subject that 90 per cent of what he captured passed muster.

The book takes its name from a song on Bowie's Let’s Dance album, and it was the lyrics of the title track that gave the Serious Moonlight tour its now-famous moniker.

After that tour, some of O'Regan’s images appeared in a book to mark the venture. Now, presumably in the absence and unexpected unavailability of any new words, Bowie’s introduction for that earlier book, written while he was in Singapore in 1984, also launches Ricochet, serving as the perfect scene-setter for a spirited look into his life and times on the road.

(Particular Books, hardback, £30)