Monday 11th January 2016. I woke to the news that David Bowie had died.
To avoid being overwhelmed with sadness and mainly to try to console my lover, who is a great fan of both Bowie and Laurel and Hardy, I made a mash-up tribute video – and posted a link on Facebook, thinking that perhaps twenty or thirty of my friends would enjoy it. A week later it had been viewed over 35,000 times and now (about 4 years later) it has had over 110,000 views!
I didn’t have to do any editing to either the video or the music to make it fit. I just dropped them both into my video editor, and magically this happened.
Of many moments when the sync seems perfect there is a special one at 0:17 which maybe not everyone will notice. When Stan taps Ollie’s shoulder, Bowie is singing “Hey babe”. Oliver Hardy’s nickname was ‘Babe’.
Several people have commented that Bowie would have enjoyed this video and that he was a big fan of Laurel and Hardy (of course!) I like to imagine that the three of them are having a good chuckle about it right now and are planning more future collaborations.
Just as when Robin Williams died last year, Bowie’s death was followed by a flood of stories from ordinary people who met him and were struck by his humility and kindness. I met Bowie once, when I was in Steven Berkoff’s Sink the Belgrano! at the Half Moon Theatre in 1986. Berkoff and Bowie knew each other via Lindsey Kemp. After the show Bowie was hanging around in the bar and I got to shake his hand. I was so star struck I probably squeezed too much, because I remember his exact words to me – “Wow, you’ve got a hard handshake.”
The film is from Laurel and Hardy in Way Out West
The music is, of course, Rebel Rebel by David Bowie.
Later the same day I made a second mash-up of Laurel and Hardy dancing to The Jean Genie. It too picked up a few thousand hits in the first week, but had only half the views of Rebel Rebel until August 2019 when a plug on Boing Boing led to spike in traffic, and now (early 2020) it has been viewed more than 167,000 times!
My third effort – Laurel and Hardy dance to Boys Keep Swinging by David Bowie – doesn’t work quite as well. It takes 25 seconds before Laurel starts the dancing – but from then on it has a rewardingly exhuberant charm!