The Ian Bowie Memorial Association strives to continue his good work by providing small grants to enable disadvantaged youth to gain mentor ship in the performing arts.
Ian Bowie was born in Sydney at St Margaret’s hospital on the 19th of July, 1953. He was to become the oldest of four children, one of whom, Allison, died within hours of being born. His father grew up mostly in Drummoyne and his mother migrated from England in 1938. Both are deceased. Ian lived most of his childhood and teenage years at Blakehurst in Sydney. He is survived by his brother, Greg and his sister, Susan.
His education was at St Raphael’s primary school at South Hurstville and then at Kogarah Marist Brothers where for four years he took an active interest in the cadets. In true form, Ian spent much time practising with the band and encouraging new band members. Ian played the Last Post for the local church service on Anzac Day for a number of years. Many people would be unaware that he was a member of the school choir which entered and won eisteddfods. They also “cut” a record which his adoring younger sister played often, probably to his annoyance and embarrassment.
This is the last recording of Ian playing a couple of days before his untimely departure. It was the drum sound check for a session which was to have been recorded a few days later. It was decided to finish the track as a musical memorial to our dear friend. Guitars were added by long time friend and musical colleague Tom Stack. Backing vocals thanks to Katherine Shearer and Katie O’Niel.
This contact with music, both through the cadets and the choir, led Ian to enter solo singing competitions, become part of a folk singing group, have private lessons on the trumpet and buy his first drum-kit. We all know Ian’s love of and expertise with his drumming. Neighbours with whom we were unacquainted at the time would tell us years later about walking past the house to hear him practising either instrument. Ian’s drumming led him to meet an enormous number of people in the entertainment industry, many of whom are still his friends today.
Stories abound about Ian’s drumming and lifestyle including one when he lived in a block of units which looked like a very old house in Bronte. Apparently Ian had his neighbours collecting egg cartons so that he could soundproof a room in the complex. His time at Bronte allowed him to develop his slightly Bohemian lifestyle and his occasionally eccentric character. It was wonderful to visit him there and he was always proud to introduce us to the people with whom he co-existed. It was at Bronte in the seventies that Ian made a collar for his beloved dog, Ned, that flashed red lights. Ian would put “Disco Ned” on the back of his ute on a Saturday night and Ned would stand proudly being the subject of attention from passing motorists. Of course, true to Ian’s style, he still has a place in the hearts of the people from Bronte and he maintained a very close friendship to Barbara Cleary throughout his life.
Ian’s zest for life was always evident. He was as excited about a drumming gig in his forties as he was in his twenties and would ring to share his joy about where he had played and how it went. One of his most recent achievements was to play the drums at the Opera House. Part of the excitement there was the fact that for once he was not the ‘roadie’ on the job. Ian’s resume provides an insight in to what an extraordinarily diverse and talented person he was and whilst it would be too lengthy to state every position that he held, it would be remiss of us not to mention the enjoyment he got out of the eight years or so that he spent touring with the Delltones.
In the last 15 years Ian had the
opportunity to bring his creative and design talents to new heights when his involvement with the entertainment industry morphed into an indispensable role with small theatre. He designed and built sets, did the lighting and the sound systems and in some cases filled in for the actors. He actually performed in a play at the Nimrod many years ago playing the role of a drummer.of course. Ian was most actively involved with the Sidetrack Theatre at Marrickville and for a brief time he actually lived in the premises. He also organised events for local councils and played an integral role in the centenary of Federation celebrations in 2001. The amount of time and energy he spent preparing each of these events was enormous. To see the notes he made and precision with which he carried out the duties required was nothing short of amazing.
Ian never stopped learning. While many of us balked at new technologies, Ian embraced them with the same enthusiasm that teenagers do. Amongst many other things, he undertook classes in Japanese, joined Toastmasters, sought advice on mathematical models, subscribed to magazines on military history and “New Scientist” and always had a passion for languages, a fact attested to by the number of language dictionaries he kept. He was known to many as “Spiro” because of his apparent likeness to Greek people. With this in mind, he sometimes said that he lived by a Latin motto, “Dum Spiro Spero” which means “while I breathe, I hope”
Ian was an avid reader and had a lovely turn of phrase himself in the things that he wrote. His desk was strewn with notes of poignant phrases, mottos, truisms, lines from movies, all a part of Ian trying to work out the meaning of life. Ian’s thirst and quest for knowledge would find him in phone or real conversations that would often be held at all hours of the day or night. In amongst all his notes were a number of “thank you” cards each with heartfelt messages of gratitude for something that Ian had done.
A eulogy to Ian would not be complete without an honourable mention of his sense of humour and the absurd. The fact that his dog, Ned, was named after Neddy Seagoon from the Goons is just one example of the importance he placed on humour in his life and the comical dialogue he shared with our father was as worthy of praise as the shows he loved to watch himself. Everyone here could relate stories of experiences with Ian that were hilarious, most of which would have been initiated by him.
Ian’s affable nature and his well read past made him comfortable conversing with people from all walks of life. He loved people of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds and took a genuine interest in their lives but Ian’s family was everything to him. From attending performances with Auntie Ruth to ringing us frequently just to “touch base”, he was always present in our lives. He spoke to, not about, his nieces and nephews and when they weren’t available, at the end of each call he would say “tell each of your children individually that I love them” or words to that effect.
My Le Thi came into Ian’s life last year and made him happier and more relaxed than he’d ever been. One of My Le’s special qualities was that she accepted his love and relationship with so many people. The depth of their relationship compensated in part for its shortness.
It would be impossible to list all of the places where Ian lived, all of the jobs that Ian had or all of the people Ian has touched. Ian has been a wonderful friend, a loving brother, uncle, son, nephew and stepson but he was also a pillar of strength to all that knew him through his great listening skills and the fact that he was a confidant to us all. Ian has been called an alchemist, a magician and a hierophant too but most importantly, he was always there for each and every one of us placing our needs before his own. the irony being that his huge heart was what finally took his life so suddenly.
Ian, we love you, we thank you for all that you have done for us and with us and now we hope that you rest in peace.
Vale Ian Bowie.
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