Bundaberg link to David Bowie remembered

MOVING: Terry Roberts and Joelene King worked together on David Bowie’s Let’s Dance video shot in New South Wales.
MOVING: Terry Roberts and Joelene King worked together on David Bowie’s Let’s Dance video shot in New South Wales. Contributed

AS FANS across the world mourn the death of David Bowie, for one Bundaberg woman the death of the British rocker reminded her of a former school friend.

Kylie McNamara, 50, attended Bundaberg State High School in the 1980s.

In a year or two above her, an unassuming, quiet student named Terry Roberts was going about his life, hanging out with a small group of friends.

"The boys used to tease us girls and it was a lot of fun," Mrs McNamara said.

"He was really nice."

Some years later, in 1983, Mrs McNamara was surprised and delighted to discover that Roberts was one of two first-year dancing students cast to play the young Aboriginal couple in Bowie's Let's Dance video.

"I remember seeing the video when it was released and being really happy for him," Mrs McNamara said.

"It was wonderful to see him get this breakthrough."

Mrs McNamara said a few years ago she spoke to another childhood friend who informed her that Roberts had died many years ago.

Bowie's Let's Dance video was one of the most political of his career and highlighted the plight of indigenous Australians.

The video featured Roberts and Joelene King as an Aboriginal couple attempting to assimilate into western society, only to discard it. .

Its powerful imagery, filled with rich metaphors and the starkness of rural Australia made it one of Bowie's most memorable videos.

It was filmed in Sydney and the small New South Wales town of Carinda.

Bowie told Rolling Stone magazine at the time that he wanted to make a political statement with the clip.

"As much as I love this country," Bowie told the magazine, "it's probably one of the most racially intolerant in the world, well in line with South Africa."

Among the video's more confronting images were Roberts dragging machinery up a busy Sydney thoroughfare on foot, surrounded by mad motorists, while King scrubbed the road on her hands and knees.

Topics:  david bowie

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