7 – Blog 39 – Zip Line to Hell

After running offstage hand-in-hand, Bowie and I cannot contain our joy, jumping up and down in each other’s arms as Queen starts their set. Duncan, standing with his Dervish friends, rushes over and joins us. I lift him and throw him in the air.

“Do that again,” he challenges me. “I have a new dance move.”

Instead off lifting him under his arms, I clasp my fingers together and toss him skyward by his  feet. He executes what he calls the flying whirl, with his legs tucked underneath him and his dad catching and tossing him back to me.

On stage the flash pots are going off and smoke envelops the Queen members as they rock out their new songs. Emerging from the smoke, Freddie paces the front of the stage before breaking into a paean to heavy girls, ‘Flat Bottom Girls’

‘Oh, you gonna take me home tonight
Oh, down beside that red fire light
Oh, you gonna let it all hang out
Fat-bottomed girls you make the rocking world go round
Fat-bottomed girls you make the rocking world go round

Get on your bikes and ride’

Songwriters: Brian May

Mike runs on stage with a bike for Freddie who jumps on and rocks out ‘Bicycles Races’ while riding circles around the band. Brian bows to Freddie in apology for disrespecting his least favorite Queen song.

As the song ends, Mike is standing next the Roger Taylor’s drum set. Freddie has plotted his revenge for Roger’s one hit, ‘I’m in Love with My Car.’

“Get down here, Taylor. Let Mike play drums while you sing this horrible song,” as he sits at the keyboard.

‘The machine of a dream
Such a clean machine
With the pistons a pumpin’
Аnd the hubcaps all gleam


Songwriters: Roger Meddows Taylor

It is truly horrible as Roger describes making love to his car with a grease gun. Oh well, schoolboy fantasies never grow up. Mike goes crazy on the drums, trying to up the tempo with no response from the other Queen members. Freddie enjoys the on-stage chaos.

“Well,” Freddie informs the crowd, “that’s the level of competition we have on who writes the best songs. Next we have Deacy’s contribution. Because he listens to my disco ambitions, it is a hit, ‘Another One Bites the Dust’. The crowd responds with cheers for Deacy’s supposed genius.

‘Let’s go

Steve walks warily down the street
With his brim pulled way down low
Ain’t no sound but the sound of his feet
Machine guns ready to go
Are you ready hey are you ready for this?
Are you hanging on the edge of your seat?
Out of the doorway the bullets rip
To the sound of the beat


Songwriters: John Deacon

Another One Bites the Dust lyrics © Queen Music Limited

The kids in the front are not ashamed about busting their dance moves. Mike jumps from the stage into the crowd and breaks his own moves, including moonwalking. Most of the kids have learned how to match his backward strut. The crowd outside the security line are cheering them one. No one yells, ‘Disco sucks.’

“Who knew?” Freddie  refers to Deacy, ‘we now have Disco Queen. Well, I had to learn to respect others’ creativity after the boys departed to London, leaving me with four roadies who took up the slack. They are the Knobs, who opened the show with all your favorite Queen oldies. Now we will amaze you with new songs after enough of the old hits. Here’s how we felt when we were all falling apart. Another Deacy gem, “Spread your Wings’”

‘So honey, spread your wings and fly away
Fly away, far away
Spread your little wings and fly away
Fly away, far away
Pull yourself together
‘Cause you know you should do better
That’s because you’re a free man

Come on, honey, fly with me’

Songwriters: John Deacon

I was all alone in Switzerland, racked by ‘Jealousy’


How how how all my jealousy
I wasn’t man enough to let you hurt my pride
Now I’m only left with my own jealousy
But now it matters not
If I should live or die
‘Cause I’m only left with my own jealousy’

Songwriters: Freddie Mercury

“But this place, the people, the magic of Lake Geneve came to my rescue. First, the boy you saw as David Bowie’s Ziggy avatar came and reminded me that I am Queen, and not just for a day. The people of Switzerland embraced me. This show, all of it, the Knobs, David Bowie, The Young Americans, Siouxie and the Banshees, and guest stars to come (you will be surprised), is for you, my fans, my neighbors and my Queen family, I owe it all to you. So, I’m back, watch out ‘cause Queen is still killer.”

‘I’m a Killer Queen
Gunpowder, gelatine
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind

Songwriters: Freddie Mercury

Killer Queen lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

“That boy from Romania, Laz, all he wanted was Queen to get back together. He is a musical genius, teaching the roadies how to play each instrument and putting the band Queen II out in the streets where our fans were, in the restaurants and at the dance club Taboo.  David Bowie produced the new song, ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ and sent it to Radio One in London to warn the boys they have competition. I wrote this song, ‘Don’t Stop Me Now,’ to show I was not going to quit.”

‘Tonight I’m gonna have myself a real good time
I feel alive
And the world I’ll turn it inside out, yeah
I’m floating around in ecstasy
So, (don’t stop me now)
(Don’t stop me)
‘Cause I’m having a good time, having a good time

I’m a shooting star leaping through the sky
Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity
I’m a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva
I’m gonna go, go, go
There’s no stopping me…

Don’t stop me, don’t stop me
Don’t stop me, hey, hey, hey
Don’t stop me, don’t stop me
Ooh, ooh, ooh, I like it
Don’t stop me, don’t stop me
Have a good time, good time
Don’t stop me, don’t stop me, ah’

Songwriters: Freddie Mercury

Don’t Stop Me Now lyrics © Queen Music Limited

“Now this show is the start of our summer tour; the boys are back, and we will play the Montreux Music Festival in August. The ‘love of my life’ is being in Queen with my bandmates.”

‘You will remember
When this is blown over
And everything’s all by the way
When I grow older
I will be there at your side
To remind you how I still love you
I still love you

Love of my life
Love of my life
Ooh, ooh’

Songwriters: Freddie Mercury

“People ask if making music, real music, is enough. All I know is that long after we’re gone there will still be ‘Radio Ga Ga.’

‘I’d sit alone and watch your light
My only friend through teenage nights
And everything I had to know
I heard it on my radio

You gave them all those old time stars
Through wars of worlds invaded by Mars
You made ’em laugh, you made ’em cry
You made us feel like we could fly

So don’t become some background noise
A backdrop for the girls and boys
Who just don’t know, or just don’t care
And just complain when you’re not there

You had your time, you had the power
You’ve yet to have your finest hour
Radio (radio)

All we hear is radio ga ga
Radio goo goo
Radio ga ga
All we hear is radio ga ga
Radio blah blah
Radio, what’s new?
Radio, someone still loves you’

Songwriters: Roger Taylor / Roger Aitken

Radio Ga Ga lyrics © Queen Music Limited

“And, who said Roger couldn’t write Queen music?”

The flash pods all go off and smoke envelops the band.

The applause goes on and on.

(skip to 1985 and the world could still be saved – the final on stage performance of Mercury and Bowie together – ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ )

‘It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid
At Christmas time, we let in light and we banish shade

And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmas time

Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmas time again
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmas time again
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmas time again
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmas time again’

Songwriters: Midge Ure / Bob Geldof

Do They Know It’s Christmas? lyrics © Chappell Music Ltd

Back to 1978

 Finally, the smoke clears, revealing Bowie and his son Duncan, alone on the stage.

“Hi Duncan,” Bowie remarks. “Do you want to be a part of the show tonight?”

“Sure, da. I’m dancing with the Dervish during the song you sing with my friend Amar.”


“That means ‘Long live’ in Turkish.”

“How about I sing a song for you?”

“You mean like you used to sing when I was little? It’s kind of embarrassing.”

“How old are you now?”

“You know, da. I’m seven.”

“Now everyone knows. You don’t like your song? It was your favorite.”

“When you sing it, it’s always my favorite. Mike says he wants to sing with you.”

“That’s a good idea because the song is about you.”

“And, he’s my friend.”

“Why don’t you introduce him?”

“Sure, da. Everyone, this is Michael Jackson singing the song me da wrote, ‘Prettiest Star.’ That’s me.”

MJ walks out dressed in Sufi robes. The crowd does not realize Mike has been on stage all during the show. Everyone claps hardily and many girls scream, “Michael.’

David picks up an acoustic guitar and strums as Mike sings the  lyrics to Duncan.

‘To sing a song of when I loved
The prettiest star
One day though it might as well be someday
You and I will rise up all the way
All because of what you are
The prettiest star
Staying back in your memory’

Songwriters: David Bowie

The Prettiest Star lyrics © Carlin Music Corp

“You want to introduce your friend Amar before he and I sing ‘Yassassin.”

“Sure, da. Amar is my bestest friend. You wrote the song about him and all Arabs who want to be our friends. Right?”

“Right as rain, boy-o.”

“Now I get to dance with Popa Mustafah and all the other Dervish,” Duncan and Mike run to the side stage where a Dervish circle is formed.

The Turkish band play the intro as Amar steps up to the mic.

Amar cries out the call and Bowie responds

‘Yassassin – I’m not a moody guy
Yassassin – I walk without a sound
Yassassin – Just a working man, no judge of men
Yassassin – But such a life I’ve never known

We came from the farmlands
To live in the city
We walked proud and lustful
In this resonant world

You want to fight
But I don’t want to leave
Or drift away

Yassassin, etc. (chorus)

Look at this – no second glances
Look at this – no value of love
Look at this – just sun and steel
Look at this – then look at us

If there’s someone in charge
Then listen to me
Don’t say nothing’s wrong
‘Cause I’ve got a love
And she’s afeared

You want to fight
But I don’t want to leave
Or drift away

Yassassin, etc. (chorus)

Songwriters: David Bowie

Yassassin (Turkish for: Long Live) lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Tintoretto Music

The Dervish whirl, Mike moonwalks the front of the small stage, Duncan whirl/flies in the air as he is thrown back and forth. The audience starts clapping the stutter/stop rhythm. At the end everyone is involved. A roar starts in the back and rolls in waves toward the stage. At the end, Amar jumps into the Sufi circle to dance with the Dervish.

“Usually Duncan is asleep by the time I finish ‘Prettiest Star.’ Not tonight. He really loves being here in Switzerland. Many of the kids standing at the front are his friends from swim lessons. We may get them onstage at the end if they want to be.”

The kids answer with a rousing “Oui/Yes.”

“But first I want you to get to know Laz. Com’n out, mon ami.”

“More Ziggy songs?” I ask approaching the mic.

“Gawd, no. I finally can stop trying to be a teanage space alien from Mars.”

“Ground Control to Major Tom,” I sing.

Bowie clasps his hands over his ears. “Never again,” he pleads.

“You can’t erase the past, David,” I warn.

“Nor can I relive it forever.”

“Maybe some new songs?”

“What do you want to hear?”

“How about me?” I crow, sticking out my scrawny chest. “A song about being a kid.”

“I did learn a few things about you. The song is called “Boys Keep Swinging.”

“Sock it to me.”

‘Heaven loves ya
The clouds part for ya
Nothing stands in your way
When you’re a boy
Clothes always fit ya
Life is a pop of the cherry
When you’re a boy

When you’re a boy
You can wear a uniform
When you’re a boy
Other boys check you out
You get a girl
These are your favorite things
When you’re a boy
Boys keep swinging
Boys always work it out
Uncage the colors
Unfurl the flag
Luck just kissed you hello
When you’re a boy
They’ll never clone ya
You’re always first on the line
When you’re a boy
When you’re a boy
You can buy a home of your own
When you’re a boy
Learn to drive and everything
You’ll get your share
When you’re a boy
Boys keep swinging
Boys always work it out’

Songwriters: David Bowie / Brian Eno

Boys Keep Swinging lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Tintoretto Music

Jack cranks up the MOOG for the saxophone solo. Bowie starts dancing herky-jerky. I do my best to swing around him with my weak dance moves. Mike and Siouxie with all the Banshees rescue me as we sweep across the stage.

“My turn,” I declare, as the band plays the intro to (I am a) ‘DJ’ I got believers.

Bowie chases all the others off the stage as I sing

‘I am a D.J., I am what I play
Can turn around no, can’t turn around
I am a D.J., I am what I play
Can turn around no, can’t turn around
I am a D.J., I am what I play
Can turn around no

Time flies when you’re having fun
Break his heart, break her heart
He used to be my boss and now he is a puppet dancer
I am a D.J., and I’ve got believers

I’ve got believers
I’ve got believers
I’ve got believers in me
I’ve got believers
I am a D.J., I am what I play
I am a D.J.’

Songwriters: Grace Jones

D.J. lyrics © Tintoretto Music, Unidisc Music

“You don’t scare me,” I shout running up the invisible black box at the front of the stage as David spits out the lyrics to ‘Scary Monsters Super Creeps.’

‘Scary monsters, super creeps
Keep me running, running scared
Scary monsters, super creeps
Keep me running, running scared’

Songwriters: David Bowie

Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) lyrics © Tintoretto Music

I throw myself off the box and into the crowd. My swimmers are there to catch me (thankfully). We run around crashing into the kids who look terrified.

I bounce back on stage and grab the mic.

“I am burning in fire,” I shout.

The band does a long intro to ‘Cat People’, followed by ‘Puttin’ Out the Fire.’

David motions to Siouxsie who comes out and sings ‘China Girl’ to her.

‘My little China girl
You shouldn’t mess with me
I’ll ruin everything you are
You know
I’ll give you television
I’ll give you eyes of blue
I’ll give you a man who wants to rule the world

And when I get excited
My little China girl says
“Oh, baby, just you shut your mouth”’

Siouxsie answers

She says, “Ssh”
She says “Ssh”
She says
She says’

David finishes,

‘Oh, little China girl
Oh, little China girl
Oh, little China girl
Oh, little China girl’

Songwriters: Iggy Pop / David Bowie

China Girl lyrics © Bug Music, Tintoretto Music, James Osterberg Music, Bug Music Inc

Clasping Siouxsie’s hands Bowie begs for her to ‘Stay’

With no Earl Slick there to wail his funky guitar licks, Jack steps in and provides the dance bridge for David and Siouxsie to hustle around the stage like they are doing the modern tango.

“In case you missed the introduction, this is Siouxsie Sioux. Her band the Banshees started off the show with ‘Hong Kong Garden.’ Laz brought her to the show in Earl’s Court last week. I think I’ll keep her.”

That is my cue to rush out.

“No way, David. She’s in love with Ziggy,” I proudly announce.

“You two are clueless,” Siouxsie announces. “ I like the new Bowie. And, you boy, are just retreading the Ziggy legend..

Bowie announces, “Sorry, Laz. Your dreams are nothing but ‘Ashes to Ashes.’

‘Do you remember a guy that’s been

In such an early song

I’ve heard a rumor from Ground Control

Oh no, don’t say it’s true

They got a message from the Action Man

“I’m happy, hope you’re happy too

I’ve loved all I’ve needed to love

Sordid details following”

The shrieking of nothing is killing

Just pictures of Jap girls in synthesis and I

Ain’t got no money and I ain’t got no hair

But I’m hoping to kick but the planet it’s glowing

Ashes to ashes, funk to funky

We know Major Tom’s a junkie

Strung out in heaven’s high

Hitting an all-time low

Time and again I tell myself

I’ll stay clean tonight

But the little green wheels are following me

Oh no, not again

I’m stuck with a valuable friend

“I’m happy, hope you’re happy too”

One flash of light but no smoking pistol

I never done good things I never done bad things

I never did anything out of the blue, woh-o-oh

Want an axe to break the ice

Wanna come down right now

Ashes to ashes, funk to funky

We know Major Tom’s a junkie

Strung out in heaven’s high

Hitting an all-time low

My mother said to get things done

You’d better not mess with Major Tom’

Written by: David Bowie

Lyrics © TINTORETTO MUSIC, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Songtrust Ave

Bowie looks downcast at the description of his past life. The kids in front are devastated. Several shout ‘No.’

Bowie approaches the front of the stage.

“What can I do? What do you want?”

The audience is bewildered.

The kids know what is needed.

“Heroes. We want ‘Heroes.”

“Then get up here and we’ll sing it together.”

The kids storm the stage. The invisible black box has been positioned to the left of the stage, where the zip line starts. David and I climb up and are hooked into our harnesses as the kids take over the stage. Multiple guitars appear, snatched by the Lake music class pupils.

We are hooked up separately and ready to go.

I whisper, “Use the brake once we approach the harbor. White D tells me she will be there for us to play to all the dolphins.”

“I don’t like last-minute changes,” David complains.

“Fine. But don’t crash into me.”

“You asshole.”

“Right on cue. I’m the new old you.”

We laugh. The kids are ready to rock ‘Heroes.’

As the spotlight catches us, we play the first verse together from the top of the invisible box

‘I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can beat them just for one day
We can be heroes just for one day’

I leap off the box and quickly pick up speed toward the harbor.

I keep playing and the speakers at the harbor come to life. Suddenly the pod of dolphins comes out of the water, leaping and swimming to the dock. Jim is there with helpers. They toss glow rings to all the dolphins who catch the rings around their necks. The harbor comes alight.

David is still on the box, singing and playing

‘I, I wish you could swim
Like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim
Though nothing, nothing will keep us together
We can beat them forever and ever
Oh, we can be heroes just for one day’

He motions toward the harbor and leaps onto the zip line, still playing and singing. The monitors keep us in synch as we fly down the hill. The kids on stage keep playing and singing. As we fly over the heads of the audience near the back of the park, they are singing, too. Everyone is looking toward the dolphins. People are screaming delight at our optics. It may not be Pink Floyd but we have everyone’s attention

As we zip along, our playing never falters. We can hear the cheers from the stage area. I start thinking how to end the song.

White D comes into my mind, ‘click click click’ (we are here)’

‘click click click,’ (I love it).

She does a double back flip in the air. Her pod repeats her lead. The glow rings make it easy to follow. They really put on a show. The Geneva Geyser goes off. Our timing is perfect.

As we reach the edge of the harbor, White D suddenly gasps, ‘cliiick.’

‘click click’ (what’s wrong).

“Click Click!’ (Black D)

I look outside the harbor entrance. Black D is swimming directly toward my lady (dolphin). He has no glow ring but his evil dark presence tells me my rival has arrived.

‘click click click’ (come to me) I call White D. I’m still playing guitar until I apply the brake and come to a sudden stop, rocking back and forth above the water. David keeps playing until he sees me stop. He slides next to me.

White D is below me as the male dolphin quickly closes the gap. White D leaps high into the air. My rival leaps after her.

Bowie plays the dolphin verse

‘‘I, I wish you could swim
Like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim

Though nothing, nothing will keep us together
We can beat them forever and ever
Oh, we can be heroes just for one day’

As we simultaneously sing ‘one day,’ Black D flies to attack me. Bowie and I both let off the lightning bolt effects from the ends of our guitar necks.

There is no voltage but the shock of being hit by twin bolts stuns the giant dolphin. He falls back into the water, his sleek black body shaking and seizing.

‘click click’ I tell White D she is safe.

‘click click click click,’ (what have you done?)

‘click click click’ (I saved you).

‘click click click click’ (You killed my mate)

I guess we cannot all be heroes. She swims to the shivering body attempting to keep it warm. Love is so fickle. Maybe Siouxsie will be available now.

Bowie and I slide the rest of the way to the harbor jetty. We still have our guitars and are fully amplified. There is only one way to end the show: ‘Yassassin ‘

The Turks are playing their casbah style on stage as Amar calls out his one word – ‘Yassassin’. We answer with the single lines. We certainly embrace diversity.

After we finish, I cannot help myself from playing the Clash’s ‘Rock the Casbah.’

“Are you done?” Bowie asks as we stand on the end of the harbor dock. Suddenly the geyser goes off again. I bow to David and bow to the geyser. I am done.

Ever ready Jim has a boat to return us to where the Rolls is parked. We cruise close to the shore to cheering fans who totally block the road.

“I like ending the show with no audience to deal with,” Bowie is a pro

“You are so jaded,” I remarked, “but it is nice to be with you,” as I lie back and let Jim drive. I am asleep on Bowie shoulder. We soon return to the Residence Hotel where all the players, the press, family and fans have gathered. Henri rushes us to a makeshift press conference.

The reporters want a literal explanation of all the songs we did.

Freddie starts to dominate the conference until the reporters say they want David to explain his part. Freddie pouts,

Bowie responds, “It’s so simple. Queen and my band need to mature and keep our shows alive. We are not the Beatles who quit because they grew tired of touring. We love our fans. It’s just entertainment. The Knobs do the old Queen Standards. Laz is the new Ziggy Stardust. It lets us both be free to invent the next thing and not be stuck in the past. We tried to show that we’ve grown. You can write about what you think of our new stuff without having to bemoan that we didn’t play what the fans love, our old hits. That’s all, folks.”

David gets up to leave. A reporter shouts out, “Did that dolphin die?

Must be an animal rights activist. I check with White D. She is still mad at me but assures me that Black D is recovering. May the mating begin. I am only slightly jealous. Siouxsie is right there to comfort me. And, Jack looks hopeful now that my bestiality phase may be over.

The Banshees are in a rush to return to London. Siouxsie asks me for their cut of the gate. I don’t want to tell them to see Henri about it. I have no idea how much they were promised. I still have the cash from the Montreux show and give her a thousand Swiss francs. They look real pleased and go to catch the next London flight.

“Can’t you stay longer?” I ask beseechingly.

“To comfort you from breaking up with your dolphin?”

We both laugh.

“She was fun, but hardly someone to take home to moma.”

“You think your moma will approve of me?”

“Are we dating?”

“Grow up kid. It was nice. Who knows.”

My personal popularity sinks even lower. Outside the Hotel Residence, a large group of fifteen-year-old girls has Emile cornered. He has his arm around the Montreux girl whose parents he asked permission to bring to his show. The other girls treat her as the queen bee. Ah, to be a teenager again.

I look for Mike who I find surrounded by reporters. They want the whole story. I go over to rescue him.

“Are you and Laz more than friends,” a gossip columnist asks.

“Yeah,” Mike smiles. “We’re best friends.”

“Is that all?’

“It’s all I need,” as I put an arm around him and walk him away.

“Whew. Thanks. All they wanted was dirt.”

“Didn’t you get those question in the Jackson 5?”

“Naw. Pops never let us talk to the media, just photo shots.”

“You mean he actually protected you.”

“Not really. More he protected his interests. My brothers were always sneaking girls into the family compound.”

“No action for you.”

“Just Bubbles.”

“I know how you feel. White D threw me over for my Black rival.”

“You know how it is. Once they go Black, they never go back.”

“Where do we sleep tonight?”

“Still homeless after our big success?”

“I had to pay Siouxsie out of my prior earnings. The band dragged her off for the junky express to London.”

“She didn’t want to stay with us?”

“She has bigger fish to fry. She wants to be a star.”

“It’s not worth it,” Mike argues.

“Not for you. Your dad treats you like a slave, keeping all the money.”

“You never grew up poor.”

“I never grew up. I just popped out in Switzerland a month ago. Now, you defend your dad?”

“Like a beaten dog. Want to sleep at the Lake?”

“And torture myself about what Black D and White D are doing?”

“How about staying at Jack’s hotel room?”

“And have him salivating over me and jealous of you.”

“Our lives suck.”

“No way. I have you to show me that things can be worse.”

“And you deceive me into thinking things can be better.”

What a pair. We go home with Jack who is through the roof until we do not let him sleep with us.

My dreams are crystal clear. I am back on the zip line going across Lake Geneva. I cannot see the faraway end point. Bowie is chasing me and about to run me down. I yell for him to use the brake. He laughs fiendishly. I look for the finish which is still far away. When I turn back, it is now Black D chasing me. He crashes into me several times until I am knocked into the water. Black D follows and grabs me by the hair, thrashing me back and forth in his revenge. He holds me underwater until I stop trying to escape. I drown. He drags my body to the caves where White D awaits him. They devour my flesh. I watch this while feeling eaten. White D begins to deliver her baby dolphin. As it pops out, the face looks just like me. I scream as Black D murders the baby.

Mike wakes me up. I relate my dream. He and Jack think it is very funny.

‘Wait until you get eaten,” I moan.

We let Jack into our bed and all go to sleep. At twenty, rock and roll can wear you out.