January 18th 2016...
My old pal David "Big Dave" Pierce left us this week. The same day as Bowie. As Chad wrote to me, " Two Davids on the same day". It was not unexpected. A series of strokes had left him sadly depleted, stuck in a Paris hospital, devotedly cared for by the wonderful Cristina. When I spoke to him last week, he hardly had the energy to speak. He was desperate to leave and finally did. A blessed release.
We met in the early 80's at a party given by his friend, the jazz singer Annie Ross. An enormous Canadian chap in a cowboy hat. "And what do you do?", I enquired. "I'm a lyricist". Not the usual answer. And so he was, working with the wonderfully talented Rick Jones and his band Meal Ticket. I went round to his place the next day, utterly intrigued. And when he produced an enormous folder stuffed with unused song lyrics and poems, I knew I'd struck gold. I took a few home with me and, using the excuse to give our dog Rags a walk, rushed to the park. I started humming to some words titled Zanzibar Sunset and knew within moments that something wonderful was happening. From then on, as life blew us both in various directions, we wrote in London, Los Angeles, and then finally and most happily, in Paris.
His place in Paris in the then unfashionable 14th district, was exactly where you might imagine a bohemian writer might live. An old factory on two floors stuffed with a chaotic collection of old bullfighting posters, ghastly paintings on velvet, pin up calendars from the 50's, all of it thoroughly unclean with a resident colony of moths. The perfect place to work in fact for two guys whose marriages had fallen apart. At that period I was doing a fair bit of filming in Europe and always got the company to route me back to London via Paris, open return. This was because there would inevitably come a time, usually between a week and ten days, when we would mutually decide that enough was enough and we couldn't stand each other's habits anymore. We were true opposites. The ultimate Odd Couple.
His work lives on, as all art does. Not only in his splendid crime fiction novels, as funny and ironic as he was, but now in our songs. The words always came first, driving the music in totally unexpected directions. Some of the happiest times in my life were spent in his company. Goodbye, old friend.