It’s a good day to have a birthday if you are a musician- particularly if you play bass! Among today’s birthdays are the original bassist for The Damned, Captain Sensible (whose parents probably preferred the name Ray Burns they gave him!) turning 65, Goth bassist extraordinaire David J. (of Bauhaus and Love & Rockets), 61; Faith No More’s Bobby Gould (one of only 2 members who’ve been in the California band since its inception in 1979) who’s 56 and Creed’s Brian Marshall, turning a young 46. And let’s not forget producer Tony Visconti, who played bass on David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World” .He’s 75 today.
Visconti is actually a New Yorker, but he moved to England in the late-’60s. Things worked out well for him there, quickly falling in with Badfinger, T-Rex and Bowie. He produced 11 albums for the former and 14 for Bowie including most of his big ones of the ’70s and his finale, Blackstar. Apart from the glam rock superstars, he’s produced records for a host of artists including The Stranglers, Iggy Pop, Manic Street Preachers and the Moody Blues. He says the #1 rule for a producer is that “the producer is boss” in the studio. He also recommends listening to a wide range of music – seems like good advice he’s put to good use!
While they all had musical success, some have branched out into other interesting pursuits. David J. (whose brother Kevin Haskins was a bandmate in both Bauhaus and Love & Rockets) has written three plays so far. After Creed had their commercial (if not critical) hey day in the late-’90s and early 2000s – their Human Clay is 11X platinum in the U.S. and launched their biggest hit, “Arms Wide Open”- he’s gone on to be a real estate agent in Florida.
Perhaps most curious is Captain Sensible. If we never could quite figure out if he was having us on as a musician (then again, who cares? Songs like ‘Wot’ were just catchy as hell!) we sure can’t tell if he was when he entered British politics , creating the Blah Party. It expressed dissatisfaction with “airhead celebrities like the Beckhams, Paris Hilton” in its manifesto… but also pledged more spending on hospitals and transit. “I always wanted to put a brick through the TV when I saw (PM Tony) Blair pop his head up. I had to start my own political party… it was 50% joke, 50% serious.” It ran candidates in the 2007 elections, but didn’t win any, which given the state of world affairs may be a shame! He says he took his name ironically when with The Damned as he had fun “regardless of the consequences” but in the early-’80s he became involved with some Buddhists and became a rather responsible father and vegetarian.