Spiders From Mars’ Woody Woodmansey: ‘I never knew that David Bowie was on drugs’

He put his change in character down to 'ego'

David Bowie‘s former Spiders From Mars drummer Woody Woodmansey has spoken of his time on the road with the late icon, stating that he had no idea of his heavy drug use at the time.

Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey played with Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars from 1970-1973. While the singer’s cocaine habit in the early to late ’70s is now well documented, Woody says that Bowie kept it well hidden from the band at the time – and that they thought any change in his character was down to ‘ego’.

“To be honest, we were unaware that he was doing it,” he told Metro. “When I met up with him in 1980, he said that he tried to keep it off everyone’s minds as such, and I told him he had done a good job because I never knew.”

“I’d seen one guy on the road, but I’d never see this guy do anything, so I said to the tour manager, “what does that guy do?” And he said: “Oh he’s a supplier”.

“So I thought the road crew who were mainly Americans that that’s how they did it. ‘They had to drive from one gig to another and set up over night, so maybe they did something to keep awake. ‘I thought he was supplying to them, but no, it was for David.”

David Bowie and Woodie Woodmansey

Woody continued: “There was definitely a character change there through the last couple of tours, but you could put that down to ego, or it’s gone to someone’s head a bit, or he’s a bit tired. You could always find a reason for it.”

The drummer made headlines back in 2016 when he criticised Lady Gaga’s divisive tribute to Bowie at the GRAMMYs.

“We were actually asked to do that, we were on tour at the time, they asked Tony and myself would we do it, and we looked at it and it was going to be like 14 or 15 songs in the space of four minutes, and we just went ‘no, fuck off”, that’s stupid, that’s not going to represent anything good about him,’” Woodmansey told NME.

“I haven’t seen many things that do represent it properly. It’s nice that many want to do that, it’s a great thing, but quality wise, there hasn’t been many.”

He added: “It was just, ‘why are you doing it?’ If there’s a genuine heartfelt thing that you wanna do out of respect, then you’d probably pull it off, but if there’s any other reason, it just gets tacky, and obviously you can’t stop that, they have a right to do it as they want to do it, but it doesn’t help a lot, it doesn’t do a lot.”


Meanwhile, David Bowie’s full set from Glastonbury 2000 was recently released in full for the first time. Check out the NME review of the film here.