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15 Things

You Never Knew About David Bowie | David Bowie

Article from Making Music, November 1986

When our fledgling Bowie was still merely a teenaged David Jones he joined his first group, the King Bees, followed rapidly by the equally unsuccessful Manish Boys. Each group recorded a fabulously dreadful single.

When only 18, Master Jones went to an audition, where he was mistaken for the Yardbirds' singer Keith Relf. He then fought off Steve Marriott (not yet a Face, Small or otherwise) and joined the group, which became Davy Jones and the Lower Third.

David's potential record company in 1969, Mercury, wanted George Martin to produce 'Space Oddity'. Bowie's camp (ha ha) wanted Tony Visconti. Eventually they got Gus Dudgeon.

Mercury then signed Bowie to a three-singles/one-album deal. Bowie's manager at the time was Ken Pitt, who negotiated an advance of £1250.

The original artwork for "The Man Who Sold The World" LP had a photo of David in a dress. The US record company turned it down, arguing that radio stations there would not play records by persons of that, er, persuasion...

David's RCA contract in 1971 was a two-year/three-album job, offering a £37,500 advance per LP, plus various options for RCA (including the right to issue two best-ofs). Bowie got an 11 per cent royalty.

During the US tour at the end of 1972 David's band the Spiders From Mars, were on a $75-a-week-each-wage. Before the gigs, they hired a US keyboard player called Mike Garson. He asked for, and got, $800 a week.

First US tour accounts. Receipts $114,000. Costs S400,000. RCA rather sad.

David "retired" at the Hammersmith Odeon in July 1973 with these words; "Not only is this the last show of the tour but it is the last show we'll ever do. Bye bye. We love you." Not entirely true, of course, but it got him a lot of press.

Bowie "unretired" in June 1974 at the first date of a tour in Montreal.

Director Nicholas Roeg considered Mick Jagger and Peter O'Toole, among others, for the James Newton role that our man with the cheekbones and the outsize iris eventually filled in "The Man Who Fell To Earth".

Several of the instrumental Eno/Bowie tracks for "Low" were written for "The Man Who Fell To Earth". When RCA first heard the LP they complained about the absence of the obvious hit singles they expected.

EMI-Capitol signed David in 1983 to a deal estimated to be worth between 10 and 17 million dollars.

Longest stay in the UK charts for a Bowie LP went to the similarly lengthily titled "The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars", which spent a happy 106 weeks among the top sellers.

"When you think about it," Bowie once thought aloud, "Adolf Hitler was the first pop star. It certainly wasn't his politics. He was a media pop star."

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Publisher: Making Music - Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

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Making Music - Nov 1986


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