(CNN) — American teenager Brad Miele spent the summer season of 1984 exploring Europe by rail along with his Sony Walkman in his ears.
Days rummaging via Paris document shops and evenings sampling Berlin nightlife have been soundtracked by Miele’s favourite albums.
Miele’s mom additionally traveled around Europe that summer season, however whereas she opted for 5 star accommodations and excursions of well-known metropolis landmarks, Miele and his brother stayed in hostels and spent their days wandering facet streets, searching for the places the place their favourite artists laid down tracks.
For Miele, who grew up in New Jersey, the head of music was David Bowie, the cult British singer. His partitions have been papered with Bowie posters. He took fashion cues from the person generally referred to as Ziggy Stardust. Bowie was Miele’s hero — and being in Europe solely made Bowie’s music resonate all of the extra.
One night, throughout their keep within the UK, Miele and his brother met up along with his mom for dinner. She was staying within the luxurious Savoy Hotel on the Strand, a bustling London thoroughfare lined with theaters and bars.
Miele was in peak Bowie mode that night time: a grey wide-brimmed hat complementing a double-breasted blazer, dishevelled pants, braces and a bow tie. On his ft, he wore a snazzy pair of purple Oxfords, in honor of Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” lyrics: “Put on your red shoes and dance the blues.”
“I definitely was seeking that David Bowie, London vibe,” says Miele.
After dinner, Miele headed out into the night time alone. His consideration was instantly drawn to an alley neighboring the Savoy, the place a gaggle of individuals had gathered.
Mielle says it is weird for him to remember now, however he remembers pondering: “That’s clearly David Bowie down there.”
He made his means down the road, towards the Victorian Savoy Theatre.
“It almost manifested itself for me as it was happening,” Miele says now. “It could be no other thing. And then all of a sudden, I see David Bowie climbing up a drainpipe, up above the crowd of people.”
It felt like Miele had wandered the size and breadth of Europe with Bowie’s tunes in his ears. Now, the person behind the music was only some yards in entrance of him.
Stepping into the body
Bowie was in the midst of filming a music video, “Jazzin’ for Blue Jean,” an prolonged 21-minute movie showcasing soon-to-be-single “Blue Jean.” In it, Bowie performs two characters: gawky Vic, who’s making an attempt to impress a lady, and Screaming Lord Byron, a Bowie-esque rock star.
Miele remembers there have been a few barricades set as much as cease passersby strolling into the shot, however the dozen or so folks watching the filming have been permitted to take action, so long as they did not trigger any disruptions.
In “Jazzin’ for Blue Jean,” there is a second the place Bowie, as Vic, shimmies up a drainpipe, making an attempt to interrupt right into a nightclub.
“I came upon the shooting of that particular scene, that they did over and over again with [Bowie’s] double,” says Miele.
Every so usually the director would swap in the actual Bowie. Miele stood watching, in disbelief.
Things bought much more surreal when one of many crew approached Miele and requested if he wished to be an additional for the remainder of the shoot.
“I almost died,” wrote a teenage Miele in his diary the next day.
“I think I was the only one of the crowd that they grabbed and dragged in and singled out,” says Miele at present.
He places this all the way down to his clothes, suggesting his Bowie-esque fashion was the right match for the movie’s aesthetic.
Miele was there for the subsequent a number of hours, filming, observing and stealing glances at his music idol.
Meeting a hero
At the tip of “Jazzin’ for Blue Jean,” the fourth wall is damaged. The viewer can see the movie crew, and Bowie breaks character, questioning the movie’s ending.
Miele does not keep in mind seeing that dialogue play out, so he wonders if he was there on the penultimate night time of filming, slightly than the final day. The final scenes he noticed happened contained in the Savoy Theatre, which stood in for the fictional Bosphrous Rooms, the place Bowie’s Screaming Lord Byron character performs within the video.
When that night’s filming wrapped, the forged and crew opened beers and milled around chatting. It was then that Miele plucked up the braveness to talk to Bowie.
“I probably could have done it sooner, but obviously I was sort of in shock,” he says now. “I think I maybe said 20 words to him.”
Miele reckons a few of these phrases may need been about Bowie’s 1977 album “Low,” which was one in every of Miele’s favorites, however the second stays a little bit of a blur.
Miele additionally remembers getting Bowie’s autograph, however he is misplaced monitor of it within the virtually 4 many years since.
Miele bought again to his hostel at 6:30 a.m. Later that day, bleary-eyed, he wrote about assembly his idol in his diary.
“He’s just like a normal guy,” wrote Miele.
“He was a kind person in the interactions that I saw of him,” says Miele at present. “And he was kind to me, and I think that was great.”
“I think it definitely showed me the side of him that you don’t see in just musicians, right? Just to see someone interacting with the world over the course of six or seven hours. It’s an interesting perspective.”
Later that yr, the “Jazzin’ for Blue Jean” video premiered on MTV. Miele’s European journey had lengthy since ended, and he watched the movie for the primary time at his greatest good friend’s home in New Jersey. Later, he purchased the video on Betamax, a kind of early video format, so he might watch it at any time when he appreciated.
In 1985, “Jazzin’ for Blue Jean” gained a Grammy for greatest music video.
Stepping into the unknown
Today, Miele stays a Bowie fan, even when he stopped dressing like him some many years in the past.
When Bowie handed away in 2016, Miele stunned himself by how emotional he was at listening to the information.
“I really felt it,” he says.
In the quick aftermath of Bowie’s demise, and within the years since, Miele discovered himself reflecting on his European journey, assembly his idol and all the pieces that occurred in his life since.
For Miele, the story symbolizes the significance of sometimes entering into the unknown in your travels and in on a regular basis life, as you by no means know what awaits you.
“A lot of people don’t do that, and sort of keep their heads straight, look forward, or whatever,” he says. “But if you don’t step into space, you’ll never have stuff like this happen.”