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Suzi Ronson opens up on being 'tour madam' for 'naughty boy' David Bowie


David Bowie’s former stylist Suzi Ronson, who created the iconic red hairstyle he wore during his Ziggy Stardust era, has opened up about life on the road with the legendary musician. Suzi penned a book about her time working and touring with the Life On Mars singer called Me and Mr Jones in which she described herself as the “tour madam” after articulating how she would organise girls to meet the band after shows.

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk in advance of the Belfast Book Festival, where she will be discussing it all in detail, she was keen to clarify that this was a tongue-in-cheek remark. “I christened myself the Tour Madam, and in those days, it didn’t mean what it means now. Well I suppose it did but it was much more light-hearted,” she said, speaking via Zoom from Portugal.

“I christened myself that tongue-in-cheek because there came a point where the band couldn’t be like most bands and wait in the dressing room – the girls come back and they sign the photographs. It wasn’t like that. The band was so well received and ][they were] scared [of the fans]. We had to get them off the stage, get them in the car and get them back to the hotel.

“Well, you do a show like that you need to have a drink with somebody – have a laugh, a bit of praise. That’s what it’s all about. And what I used to do was I got on the bus with the rest of the band, and there were kids hanging around the bus and I’d ask if they wanted to come back. I wasn’t bringing them back…. I wasn’t procuring girls…I was simply bringing fans back to the hotel.

“And the majority of the time the band – David was quite a naughty boy but the rest of the band really weren’t – they were straight lads from Yorkshire. I mean they might have worn the make up but they had girlfriends and wives. I don’t think… I mean I’m sure they dallied here and there – who wouldn’t under those circumstances… But they never did anything terrible.

“David never did anything terrible either. But my God he was announcing in the papers he’s gay and he’s this and he’s that so he had to kind of live up to it,” she laughed.

Suzi Fussey, as she was then, was only in her early 20s at the time. Having met Bowie in 1970, she was part of his inner sanctum until he retired the Ziggy Stardust character in 1973.

She went on to marry his legendary Spiders From Mars guitarist Mick Ronson and have a daughter, Lisa.

Reflecting now on how she would have felt if Lisa had been offered a similar invitation, she acknowledges she wouldn’t have been happy.

“People have asked me before, ‘What if it was your daughter?’ And when you put it like that, when my daughter was 16, I wouldn’t have liked that at all,” she admitted.

“And [there was one girl of 16] she was giggling and she was great. She looked super and she looked about 20 and she wanted to come on the bus. Nobody was twisting anybody’s arm,” Suzi reiterated.

“Where was her mum? I suppose her mum must have been outside waiting for her – poor mum. And then when she didn’t show up, she finally decided that she had to come look for her. Well done mother. I take my hat off to her.”

Indeed, Suzi fully relates to the mother’s experience, as she recalled having a “bit of a double standard” when Lisa had the opportunity to go backstage at a Guns n Roses concert in Madison Square Garden at a similar age.

“I said, ‘Darling, I know what goes on there. You’re not going,'” she laughed.

Suzi Ronson: My Life With David Bowie will be hosted By Aine Cronin McCartney as part of the Belfast Book Festival on June 9 at 7.30pm in Crescent Arts Centre.

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