Marty Feldman loved Jazz, a bit of classical and not much else musically speaking.
He had six LPs (among his hundreds of records) that could be classified as
1. Harry Nilsson’s Aerial Ballet, given to him by Harry
2. John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band, given to him by Lauretta
3. David Bowie’s Hunky Dory, very scratched.
4. David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane, very scratched with cigarette burns
5. David Bowie’s Heroes, totally beaten up with all sorts of scars
6. David Bowie’s Scary Monsters, in great shape
He loved Bowie, referring to him in his autobiography as “the bee’s knees.”
They had a lot in common, they were both London lads who did good, escaping the confines of their impoverished beginnings.
They loved Jazz and they LOVED the great Buster Keaton. Marty is buried next to Buster in Forest Lawn cemetery in Los Angeles, he went to his grave wearing his Buster pin on the lapel of his suit. Marty referred to Buster often and his presence is in abundance in Marty’s telling of his own story.
He carried a photo of Buster in a wallet that Lauretta had gifted to him on his 30th birthday to celebrate Buster, but also to remind himself about how the film industry mistreated the great Comic Genius. This too would be his fate. In his house is Buster’s hat that his widow Eleanor gave to Marty.
Marty mounted it on the wall next to his drum kit so he could see it every day.
Marty played trumpet, David played sax. They were both inspired by the great black musicians who backed Little Richard or other such heroes – Miles, Sonny, Dizzy, Coltrane and on…
Until the end, they both had the love and support of strong-willed and beautiful women.
So now BowiE is “up in Heaven.”
Marty’s writing about his meeting with David is included below.
They were both dragged in on a film project by their mutual pal, the lovely Graham Chapman. The movie was Yellowbeard. Marty told Lauretta that the script of said film was “the worst script he has ever tried to finish reading!” Nevertheless, he was full of hope and relieved that he had pressure only to act and would also hang out with his friends.
John Cleese and Graham Chapman gave Marty his on screen start in the show At Last the 1948 Show. They would both be on set for his final screen performance too. Also in the company were James Mason, Peter Cook, Spike Milligan (Marty’s all time favorite), Cheech and Chong, Eric Idle and of course David Bowie.
Lauretta told me that Marty was thrilled when David told him that he loved his TV shows and really liked his “Ode to Buster” in the film Silent Movie. He even remembered meeting Marty and was keen to do their Godot play. David had been on holidays in Mexico having just finished recording his new album.
David and Marty on set of the film Yellowbeard, in Mexico. This photo of Marty is the last photo taken before he died, unpublished until this year in his autobiography eYE Marty.
Here now, Marty’s excerpt about his meeting David from the newly discovered autobiography, eYE Marty
“I’ve met a lot of people in my line of buisness who inspire me and make me feel I want to do better. My friend Harry Nilsson dragged me to many parties and gatherings. At one I was introduced to David Bowie. I’d thought for years that he was the bee’s knees. He always reminded me physically of Peter Cook and in terms of originality too. I still listened almost exclusively to Jazz or classical music but I liked his work. He was an artist in every sense of the word.
He was into mime and told me he was getting ready to do his first film, which turned out to be The Man Who Fell to Earth. I had been offered a role in it but couldn’t do it because I was busy with other stuff. We jokingly called ourselves the eYE to eYE brothers and decided it would be great to work together. My friend Stanley Dorfman had worked with him and we thought the three of us could do a small weird film. I told him that I always wanted to do a stage play at the Roundhouse in London and that Becket’s Waiting for Godot was my dream. I’d hoped to do it with Spike but couldn’t get it together because of scheduling. David was very excited and insisted we stay in touch.
It was a very strange party, lots of drugs and people talking fast and Harry, ever the goof, holding court. David was from the same part of the world as me and we realized we had a lot more in common than dodgy eYEs. John Lennon was in town and I think the party was thrown in his honour but he never showed up. Harry Nilsson and John were very close and Harry would show him off in the best way, he knew most peoples lives would be better for having met him. John had that effect on people. He had become estranged from Yoko and Lauretta would joke that she was ready to go off with him. She said the same thing about one of the Muppets so I wasn’t that worried!”
Marty died on the set of Yellowbeard in December, 1982. David was launched from the shadows of adornment and critical acclaim to the intense glare of super stardom with his hit record Let’s Dance.
When the video for David’s song “Let’s Dance“ was released, Lauretta was in hiding (months after Marty’s death) and she saw it in a remote town in Australia and couldn’t help but wonder how things would have gone at the Roundhouse. Marty’s manager Howard West had started negotiations with people prior to Marty’s death.
Many years later I found myself sitting next to Lauretta (in the year 2002) at the famed Roundhouse in London. We were there by choice, watching Michael Moore performing his one man show. It filled her full of emotions. Being a very politically tuned-in person she was always enraged at the thought of war. Michael stirred up all sorts of stuff. George ‘Wanker’ Bush was by far the worst person on her list, and she feared for her future and for the future of the world in his hands.
We met with Michael backstage after his show. In response to his question, “Have you been to this Roundhouse before?”
Lauretta answered “Many times. I saw Olivier, Nina Simone, Edith Piaf and my old man was planning on doing Godot with Bowie here, before he fell off the perch.”
Michael replied, “David?”
And she coyishly replied, “No, Samuel darling.”
He loved her instantly!
As Marty’s story is being read around the world, David Bowie has died. His brilliant new album Blackstar would have surely been Marty’s cup of tea. Great writing, David singing on top form and sparring with intense and epic beats by his young and extremely able drummer Mark Guiliana. With avant sax bursts and Bowie’s own Fender guitar riffs blaring as he croons on “Lazarus.”
“You know, I’ll be free
Just like that Bluebird
Now ain’t that just like me.”
Marty was at this show in Los Angeles 1974.
Here’s to the Bluebirds: Marty, Buster, and David too.
Read the rest of Marty’s story in eYE Marty now!