The woman who inspired one of David Bowie’s most famous tracks – and most memorable lyrics – has called her relationship with the musician ‘precious’.
Red-haired dancer Hermione Frankel, now 66 and living in Bristol, dated the singer, who died on Sunday at the age of 69, in the late Sixties and was the singer’s muse for songs including Life On Mars and and An Occasional Dream.
The famous lines: ‘It’s a god-awful affair to the girl with the mousy hair’ from Life On Mars refer to the one-time couple’s relationship 45 years ago – which ended in heartbreak for Bowie.
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Red-haired beauty: Hermione Frankel, now 66 and a yoga teacher in Bristol, dated Bowie in the late Sixties. She left him to make a film Song For Norway and, he revealed later, ‘broke his heart’
The relationship that inspired one of Bowie’s biggest hits: David Bowie pictured in 1969 at Clareville Grove, South Kensington house of Hermione Farthingale – now Hermione Frankel – who was the muse for Life On Mars
The pilates teacher said another song, An Occasional Dream, ‘says it all’ about the couple’s time together. By 1972, Frankel had moved to Papua New Guinea, where she would marry her anthropologist boyfriend
Infidelity: Bowie, referring to the end of his relationship with Frankel, later said: ‘I was totally unfaithful and couldn’t for the life of me keep it zipped.’ (The couple are pictured in 1968)
Then Hermione Farthingale, she was said to have broken Bowie’s heart after leaving London to make a film called Song of Norway.
When referring in 2002 to how the Space Oddity era came about, Bowie said of Hermione: ‘I was totally head-over-heels in love with her and the break-up sort of demolished me. It set me off on the Space Oddity song.’
When announcing Life on Mars on stage in 1990, the singer introduced the song by saying: ‘You fall in love, you write a love song. This is a love song.’
Yesterday, Frankel told The Sun: ‘I’ve nothing bad to say about my time with Bowie. There are too many girlfriends coming out of the woodwork claiming a little bit of the limelight. I think this is a time for close family.’
The couple met on the set of television drama The Pistol Shot and quickly became a couple. They went on to be in two bands together: Turquoise and Feathers (From left: musician Tony Hill, Hermione Farthingale and David Bowie, pictured in 1968)
First real love: Bowie moved into Frankel’s home in Claremont Grove in South Kensington and the pair would perform together in their bands Turquoise and Feathers
After the relationship ended, Bowie penned a series of songs about Hermione including Life on Mars, An Occasional Dream and Letter to Hermione
Icon: By 1973, just five years after the affair, Bowie was already well known for his dramatic costumes and frequent transformations (Pictured above with Twiggy in 1973)
From aspiring rock star to global icon: This photograph of Bowie in character for the album Aladdin Sane remains one of the most recognisable images of the 1970s
From boy to man…but his first relationship left an impression on the Brixton-born singer and he was still referencing his affair with Frankel even in 2013, when he wore a t-shirt with Song For Norway written on it, a nod to the film she left him to make
So, who exactly is the girl with the mousy hair?
Born to a middle-class family in Edenbridge, Kent, Frankel studied classical ballet and went on to star in a number of films including Inspector Clouseau in 1968 and Oh! What a Lovely War in 1969.
The couple met in 1968 on the set of television drama The Pistol Shot, which they both starred in and, after Bowie accompanied Frankel back to Shepherd’s Bush tube station, they quickly became an item.
It was to be the musician’s first serious relationship and he quickly moved into her house at 22 Clareville Grove in South Kensington, London.
One of Bowie’s first bands Turquoise, of which Hermione was a member, used the house to jam in. A second band, Feathers, saw more music made together and even several live appearances.
However, after long periods apart while Hermione focused on her own flourishing career, the couple drifted and she called time on the relationship.
THE LOVE AFFAIR THAT INSPIRED SOME OF BOWIE’S GREATEST LYRICS
Making sweet music: Frankel and Bowie playing guitar together in 1968
LIFE ON MARS
‘It’s a god-awful small affair, To the girl with the mousy hair, But her mummy is yelling “No”
And her daddy has told her to go, But her friend is nowhere to be seen…’
LETTER TO HERMIONE
‘I care for no one else but you, I tear my soul to cease the pain, I think maybe you feel the same, what can we do?’
AN OCCASIONAL DREAM
It was long, long ago, And I can’t touch your name
For the days of fate were strong for you…
Danced you far from me, In my madness
I see your face in mine, I keep a photograph, It burns my wall with time
The film she left Bowie to go and make was Song of Norway, released in 1969. It’s a title that stayed in the mind of the singer; he wore a t-shirt with it written on for his 2013 video Where Are We Now?
By 1972, she’d moved to Papua New Guinea and married her boyfriend, anthropologist.
Frankel clearly left an impression on Bowie and she added that the song: An Occasional Dream ‘says it all’.
The heartbreak felt by the rising star was is etched clearly in the song’s lyrics. ‘I see your face in mine, I keep a photograph, it burns my wall with time.’
After his affair with Hermione ended in the late Sixties, Bowie met and wed Angie Bowie (pictured in 1970 at Bromley Register Office after their wedding). The couple went on to have a son, Duncan Jones, and last week Angie Bowie entered the Celebrity Big Brother house, where she was informed of his death on Monday
Bowie with his wife Angie Bowie with son Zowie Bowie now Duncan Jones in February 1974 in Amsterdam
The singer walked down the aisle with supermodel Iman, now 60, in 1992 and the couple had a daughter, Alexandria Zahra Jones, 15, together in 2000
Enduring love: Bowie with his wife Iman at the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Centre in New York in 2006
Letters to Hermione further explained the misery felt by Bowie about the relationship’s demise, featuring the lines: ‘I care for no-one else but you, I tear my soul to cease the pain, I think maybe you feel the same, what can we do?’
In an interview with Bowie biographer Paul Trynka while the musician was still alive, Frankel called the song ‘incredibly moving’ and added that she found ‘Occasional Dream just as moving, almost more so actually, because that’s got things in it.’
She added that they were ‘wonderful, wonderful love songs, whoever they’re for.’
LANDMARK ALBUMS IN DAVID BOWIE’S CAREER
David Bowie (1967)
Bowie’s first solo album was released shortly after his novelty single The Laughing Gnome and failed to ignite the imagination of the record-buying public.
Space Oddity (1969)
Despite the hit single, the record was not a commercial success on its first release.
Hunky Dory (1971)
Now considered one of the great albums of the 1970s, Hunky Dory was not a huge commercial success at the time. It features classic tracks including Life On Mars and Changes. It became a much bigger success when it was re-released following the rise of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust incarnation.
The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (1972)
Bowie’s concept album about an alien rock star is still considered his seminal work and, together with the Ziggy Stardust alter-ego he created, the album catapulted him into the stratosphere of rock and pop stardom.
Immortal songs: Floral tributes to the singer are laid beneath the mural of Bowie in Brixton
The Berlin Trilogy
The albums Low (1977), Heroes (1977) and Lodger (1979) were made when Bowie moved from the United States to Berlin and marked another sharp change for the singer.
Let’s Dance (1983)
One of Bowie’s most commercially successful albums and seen as his most mainstream creation.
Tin Machine (1989)
Bowie created a traditional four-piece rock band in an effort to rejuvenate his career and return to a more straightforward style.
The Next Day (2013)
Bowie surprised the world with this release on his 66th birthday – a decade after his last album. It received widespread critical acclaim.
Released only two days before his death on his 69th birthday.
The album was already well received by critics and is now being scoured for references to his illness.
Bowie’s famously colourful love-life has saw him marry twice but entertain a string of lovers.
The singer, referring to the end of his relationship with Frankel, said: ‘I was totally unfaithful and couldn’t for the life of me keep it zipped.’
Shortly after his relationship with Frankel ended, at the age of 22, he married Angie Bowie at Bromley Register Office. Angie gave birth a year later to a son, Zowie Bowie, who is now 44 and goes by the name of Duncan Jones.
He married supermodel Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid – now 60 – 1992 before welcoming daughter Alexandria Zahra Jones, 15, together in 2000.
Lyrical to the last: Bowie’s final music video, Lazarus, shows him in a hospital bed with his eyes covered by a bandage in an apparent premonition of his death