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Bowie at Haddon Hall, April

Bowie at Haddon Hall, April 20 photograph © Dennis Stone

With a new publishing contract, Bowie continued to write, primarily on an old grand piano he had acquired near Haddon Hall and installed in Visconti's old room overlooking the garden. The switch from guitar to a piano (with a stuck key) produced a new way of writing.

Angie Bowie (2011): He loved that piano. David is a fantastic musician, because his approach is not studied, it's by ear. He has an ability to pluck a song from those first moments when he plays with an instrument. Writing on the piano opened up his possibilities, because of its association with so many kinds of music – classical, cabaret, every style.

Wednesday January 6

Michael Oberman (2005): My brother, Ron, was Director of Publicity for Mercury Records. They were having trouble breaking David Bowie in the U.S. Ron arranged for Bowie to do a promo/press tour.

Friday January 15

Holy Holy 3:13 Black Country Rock 3:32
single released in UK
Mercury 6052 049

Monday January 18

Six-Oh-One Newsday
Granada Television Studios, Quay Street, Manchester

Holy Holy

Bowie performed the new single solo on acoustic guitar. On the set at Granada, Bowie met Roger Damon Price, who told him about an idea he was working on The Tomorrow People – a television show featuring a master race called The Homo Superior.

Tuesday January 19

Demo recording sessions
Radio Luxembourg studio, Hertford Street, London

Oh! You Pretty Things

At four in the morning Bowie woke up with a song in his head – a melody and a phrase, Gotta make way for the Homo Superior. He quickly worked it out on the piano and called Bob Grace who was due to attend the MIDEM a music trade fair in Cannes the next day. He told Bowie, “Come up [to the studio] – I can record an interview with you and we can do the demo.”

Wednesday January 20

At the MIDEM festival Bob Grace approached hit producer Mickie Most with an acetate of Oh! You Pretty Things.

Bob Grace (1986): I played him the demo and he said, “Smash!” You knew if Mickie listened to the whole demo and didn’t stop you, you were probably going to get a record.

Saturday January 23

London to Washington DC

Bowie and Ron Oberman at Dulles Airport

Bowie arrived in Washington alone (DeFries chose not to accompany him and Angie was heavily pregnant) to begin the promotional tour arranged by Ron Oberman. Dressed in a blue maxi-coat and white chiffon scarf, Bowie was whisked off to the Dulles Airport customs hall for questioning by bemused officials for 45 minutes. A guard muttered ‘fag’ as Bowie walked off to be greeted by Ron Oberman and his parents.

Michael Oberman (2005): I was a music columnist for the Washington Star. I had written about David in 1968 based on his success in the UK. So his first stop was DC/Maryland and my parents picked up Bowie and my brother at the airport. Ron had flown in from Chicago (where Mercury was headquartered at the time). David was great. He went to dinner with me, my brother and my parents. This photo was taken in my parent’s living room in Silver Spring, MD. Later that night he came to my house and spent the evening.

Michael and Ron Oberman at home with Bowie

Bowie met Michael Oberman at the family home in Silver Spring and they took him for dinner at Emerson's in Washington.

Michael Oberman (2017): It really felt like a family dinner and then back at my house in Takoma Park, Maryland, Bowie saw his first bong. We had bamboo and plexiglass bongs at my house and David was curious about them. It seemed as though he hadn't seen one before... but that might not have been the case. He didn't partake. There was a band called Sky Cobb hanging out at my house that night and they had the bongs going. I had no idea there was a party going on and the band had no idea who David Bowie was. The drummer in the band went on to play with Emmylou Harris in her Angel Band. He is now a well known photographer in L.A. and still embarrassed that he pretty much ignored David that night.

Monday January 25

Washington DC

Following interviews with a local underground paper and a radio station, Bowie and Ron Oberman boarded the train to Philadelphia for the next round of interviews.

Tuesday January 26

94 WYSP, Philadelphia

Wednesday January 27

New York


At the Holiday Inn, New York Photos © Jeffrey Mayer

After checking in to a midtown Holiday Inn, Bowie went sightseeing in Manhattan, visiting Nat Sherman (‘Tobacconist to the World’), record shops, the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art and East Side antique stores. In the evening he and Mercury Records’ Paul Nelson watched Tim Hardin play a Greenwich Village coffee house and The Velvet Underground at the Electric Circus in St. Marks Place.

Bowie (2004): After the show, I asked if I could have a few words with Lou. Lou came out, and we sat and talked about songwriting for ten minutes or so. I told my guide what a blast it had been to see the Velvets live and meet Lou Reed. ‘Lou left the band some time ago,’ he said. ‘You were talking to his replacement, Doug Yule’.

The Velvet Underground: Doug Yule, Willie Alexander, Maureen Tucker, Walter Powers, October 1971, Hilversum, Netherlands photograph © Gijsbert Hanekroot

Friday January 29

German issue Sweden issue

4th Hour of My Sleep (Zimmerman) 3:08
Powers of Darkness (Marshall) 3:32

Ronno single released in UK
Vertigo 6059 029

Mick Ronson (guitar), Tony Visconti (bass),
Woody Woodmansey (drums), Benny Marshall (vocals)


February 1971

Monday February 1 – Tuesday February 9

Detroit • Minneapolis • Chicago • Detroit • Milwaukee • Atlanta • Houston

Tuesday February 2


Bowie interviewed by Dave Marsh for Creem magazine

Bowie in Detroit photograph © Charlie Auringer

Wednesday February 10

Houston • KSAN-FM San Francisco • San Jose

Bowie’s provocative choice of dress was too much for one Houston local, who called him a ‘fag’ and pulled a gun on him.

Bowie flew to San Francisco where Mercury Records’ Lewis Seigel introduced him to Rolling Stone writer John Mendelsohn who was covering Bowie's West Coast visit.

Holiday Inn, San Francisco Photographs © John Mendelsohn

At a San Jose radio station interview Bowie was invited to play some records. Mendelsohn found The Stooges’ I Wanna Be Your Dog in the racks. Bowie was transfixed by Iggy Pop and began to formulate his next project – the 'leper messiah' rock star.

Saturday February 13
Sunday February 14

Los Angeles

Bowie and Rodney Bingenheimer

With Rodney Bingenheimer, Mercury’s California publicist and Bowie’s guide in Los Angeles

Bowie stayed with RCA executive/producer Tony Ayres, on whose recording equipment he made a demo of Moonage Daydream. He told Bingenheimer and Ayres he was writing about an imaginary character called Ziggy Stardust. He also recorded a demo of Hang On To Yourself and asked Ayres to give it to Gene Vincent, who was also there recording demos.

Bowie mentioned disappointment with Mercury Ayres suggested signing to RCA and arranged a meeting with its West Coast Publicity Head. RCA was then relying mainly on Elvis Presley who, as Ayres said, “can’t last forever”.

Bowie, Bingenheimer and Mendelsohn attended a Valentine’s Day party at the home of attorney Paul Feigen. Bowie sat cross-legged on a waterbed playing All The Madmen, Space Oddity, Amsterdam and Hang On To Yourself to the guests. (Bingenheimer recorded the performance and later played part of it on his radio show in the Nineties).

The party was Bowie's sole performance of the US promotional tour, as he hadn't arrived without the correct visa necessary for public performances.

Photograph © Earl Leaf

In Los Angeles they did the rounds of the radio stations KMAC, CMIS and KYMS and watched a performance by Biff Rose, a songwriter known as ‘the hippy Randy Newman’. Bowie had been performing his songs Buzz The Fuzz and Fill Your Heart.

Thursday February 18

Los Angeles to London

After a direct flight from Los Angeles, Bowie arrived home on a high.

Bowie (1972): America was an incredible adrenalin trip. I got very sharp and very quick. Somehow or other I became very prolific. I wanted to write things that were more... immediate.

Bob Grace (2009): He was incredibly prolific. Songs were just pouring out of him and it was getting intimidating.

Thursday February 25

The Arnold Corns recording session
Radio Luxembourg studio, Hertford Street, London

Moonage Daydream
Hang On To Yourself

David Bowie (vocal, guitar)
Mark Pritchett (guitar)
Pete De Somogyl (bass)
Tim Broadbent (drums)

Bob Grace arranged more sessions for Bowie to test out the new songs with Rungk. As he was still contracted to Mercury, Bowie called the project The Arnold Corns – a prototype for the Ziggy Stardust concept. Fred Burrett now Freddie Burretti, was the nominal lead singer, but his real function would be to design Bowie’s clothes and facilitate his assimilation of the Kensington gay scene and Angie’s plan to scandalise straight Britain.

March 1971

Tuesday March 9
Wednesday March 10

Demos recording session
Radio Luxembourg studio, Hertford Street, London

Lady Stardust
Right On Mother

Saturday March 20

Disc publishes Mr. 'Bangers' Bowie plans his return... in a stereo wedding car by Rosalind Russell

Friday March 26

Peter Noone single recording session
Kingsway Studios, London
Producer: Mickie Most

Oh You Pretty Things
Right On Mother

Peter Noone (vocals)
David Bowie (piano, backing vocals)
Herbie Flowers (bass)
Clem Cattini (drums)

Mickie Most had told Herman’s Hermits singer Peter Noone, “I think I found your first solo record.” Noone heard the demo and said, “That’s it, it’s perfect!” He changed “the earth is a bitch” to the more radio-friendly “the earth is a beast”. Bowie later told Chris Welch, “Although I really wanted Leon Russell to sing it, I suppose Herman has done it quite well.”

Bowie's Right On Mother was held over to back Noone’s second single, Walnut Whirl in October.

April 1971

Thursday April 1

“David Bowie? Pantomime Rock?” published in Rolling Stone

John Mendelsohn’s feature on Bowie in America gave American readers their first impression of Bowie – charming, clever and outrageous.

Saturday April 10

The Man Who Sold The World

The Man Who Sold The World

album released in UK
Mercury 6338 041

Almost a year after completion, the album was finally released in the UK. The cover art, a Dante Gabriel Rossetti parody, followed Bowie’s specifications, printed on linen textured stock to simulate a painting.

Promotional copies of The Man Who Sold The World were sent out to the press with 500 press kit folders made up with fresh photos, biography and cuttings. Bob Grace had also called in publicist Bill Harry to restart Bowie’s stalled career. Bowie requested Chrysalis photographer Brian Ward – on the strength of his work with Jethro Tull – for a session to photograph Bowie’s new look.

Friday April 23

Mickey King’s All Stars demos
Trident Studios, St. Anne’s Court, Wardour Steet, London
Engineer: Ken Scott

Rupert The Riley
The Man (later titled Lightning Frightening)
How Lucky You Are (also titled Miss Peculiar)

Mickey King (vocals)
David Bowie (vocals on The Man, backing vocals, saxophone)
Mark Pritchett (guitar)
Herbie Flowers (bass)
Barry Morgan (drums)

Bowie produced this side-project to test some new songs. The significant outcome was a conversation Bowie had with engineer Ken Scott during a break in recording.

Ken Scott (2005): I happened to say to him, ‘You know what? I’m a bit frustrated. I want to start moving into the production side.’ He said, ‘Well, I’ve just got a new manager, and I’m about to start a new album. I was going to do it myself but I don’t know if I can, how about working with me?’ [Chiccarelli, Joe. ‘Shooting to thrill’ (EQ, 2005)]

Saturday April 24

‘Dressed For The Bowie Life’ by Don Short published in The Daily Mirror

Angie and David at Haddon Hall photograph © Dennis Stone

Friday April 30

UK issue

Oh You Pretty Things 2:55
Together Forever (Vangarde-Fishman) 2:30

Peter Noone single released in UK
RAK 121 Chart peak 12

Denmark issue Netherlands issue


May 1971

Saturday May 1

Bowie launched Freddi Burretti as Rudi Valentino, ‘the new Mick Jagger’, adding that Freddi's band Arnold Corns will be the next Rolling Stones. Curious magazine's cover image was one of a series that Brian Ward shot for the story, including Burretti holding a boa constrictor, which Bowie later claimed was the origin of Alice Cooper’s snake act.

Cover stars Freddie Burretti and Bowie


Bob Grace, Freddie Burretti and Bowie Photographs © Brian Ward

Friday May 7

Ronno at London Temple Club

Bowie took Bob Grace to Ronno’s showcase set at London Temple Club. The support act Beggars Opera, a prog-rock group (also on Vertigo) included guitarist Ricky Gardiner, who later worked on Low and Lust For Life.

Moonage Daydream 3:52 Hang On To Yourself 2:51

The Arnold Corns single released in UK
B&C CB 149

Both tracks reissued:
The Man Who Sold The World (Rykodisc/EMI 1990)
The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (EMI 2002)
Five Years 1969-1973 (EMI 2015)

Bob Grace (1986): We decided to lease three of the demos to B&C Records [an offshoot of Charisma Records], simply to try and get some money back. I think we got £300 for the three masters. Because David was still contracted to Mercury we couldn’t use his name so David came up with Arnold Corns. He never told anyone what it meant.

Chrysalis Music's sheet music for Oh You Pretty Things highlighted Bowie as the writer of Noone's hit, Bowie's own album and the Arnold Corns single.

Wednesday May 12

George Underwood and Birgit Graversen's wedding

Angie and David with George and Birgit Underwood at the wedding party

George Underwood and Bowie were friends since school, where they once had a fight over a girl.

George Underwood (2007): We were 14 or 15, and there was a girl we both wanted to go out with. I was lucky enough to get a date with her. On the day, David rang me up and said that she had to cancel the date, so I didn’t go. But he'd made up the whole story, so I wouldn’t get the date. The girl stood around for over an hour, waiting for me, as I discovered later. It was a bastard thing to do, and I was furious with David, so it developed into a fight between us. And during the punch-up, I caught his eye. With a fingernail.

Bowie (1973): I stumbled against a wall and on to my knees. At first he thought I was kidding – it wasn't a very hard punch. But it had obviously caught me at rather an odd angle.

Bowie was rushed to Moorfield Eye Hospital and after months of operations, he was left with poor depth perception and a permanently dilated left pupil. As a result he appeared to have different coloured eyes.

George Underwood (1973): I'm sure David doesn't think about it nowadays – but every time I see him again after a long break, I'm reminded of what I did to him, all those years ago!

Despite this, the two remained lifelong friends and played in the King Bees. Their single Liza Jane, released June 1964 on Vocalion Pop, was Bowie’s first commercially released recording.

By 1971 Underwood was an illustrator but Bowie encouraged him to guest on the upcoming radio session and organised some sessions at Advision Studios for Underwood to record three Bowie songs for DeFries to shop around the labels for a deal.

George Underwood (2006): Hole In The Ground was written by David, Herbie Flowers on bass, Tim Renwick on guitar and Terry Cox on drums. Also David was playing guitar on it. The B-side was just a continuation of the record without any vocals, which we were going to call Lump On The Hill. Time was an early version (originally titled We Should Be On By Now) with some different lyrics of the one that appeared on Aladdin Sane a few years later. I think Song For Bob Dylan was the same session.

Friday May 14

Ronno played The Cavern Club in Liverpool, supporting the band Tear Gas, but Ronson was at his lowest ebb, living with his parents in Hull. Live work was drying up and the Ronno single had been unsuccessful.

Mick Ronson (1987): It did nothing at all. Vertigo offered us a simple deal – here's a studio, go and make a record. That was it. And when the single flopped, things simply fell apart. Then David called and asked us if we wanted to come back and do some more stuff with him.

Ronson jumped at the offer and took the next train to London. He restarted Ronno with Woody Woodmansey and a new bass player Trevor Bolder, another of his Hull friends.

Mercury Records execs Robin McBride, Irwin Steinberg and Charlie Fasch came to the Londonderry Hotel expecting Bowie to sign with Mercury for another three years. DeFries stated unequivocally that the contract was to be terminated forthwith and that Bowie would not record another note for Mercury. DeFries reimbursed Mercury for all costs associated with The Man Who Sold The World and the other recordings made under the contract. He now had two albums to sell on to the highest bidder.


Bowie and Dana Gillespie, May 17 photograph © Michael Stroud

DeFries began planning his own management empire Gem. He had recently begun a relationship with Dana Gillespie and signed her. She was an old flame of Bowie’s, having met him at the Marquee Club in 1965 when she was a folk singer, recording singles for Pye and Decca.

In between Hunky Dory sessions, Bowie and Ronson would produce her recordings at Trident Studios, starting with her version of Bowie’s Andy Warhol, which would be previewed on the next BBC session.

Sunday May 30

Angie gave birth to Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones at Bromley Hospital after a drawn-out labour, suffering a cracked pelvis in the process.

Bowie wrote Kooks to commemorate the arrival of his son, telling listeners of John Peel’s radio show a week later:

“I'd been listening to a Neil Young album* and they phoned through and said that my wife had had a baby on Sunday morning, and I wrote this about the baby. It’s called Kooks.”

June 1971

Thursday June 3

In Concert: John Peel
BBC Paris Studio, Lower Regent Street, London
Producer: Jeff Griffin

David Bowie (vocals, guitar, piano)
Mick Ronson (guitar, vocals)
Trevor Bolder (bass)
Woody Woodmansey (drums)
Mark Pritchett (rhythm guitar) George Underwood (vocals)
Dana Gillespie (vocals)
Geoff MacCormack (vocals)

Queen Bitch
The Supermen
Looking For A Friend
Almost Grown
Song For Bob Dylan
Andy Warhol
It Ain't Easy

Bowie's planned preview of the forthcoming album became a ‘community thing’ as Peel noted with approval, as ‘an astonishing number of friends’ from Bowie’s neighbourhood took turns on vocals. Bowie and his band were nervous before the show – the new material was unfamiliar and Bowie had not performed live for some time.

George Underwood (2006): It was a bit nerve-racking. David was nervous. You can hear it in his voice when he is talking.

Trevor Bolder (2009): I wasn’t supposed to be playing bass – it was supposed to be Herbie Flowers, but he couldn’t do it so I played. I had to learn 12 songs in about two hours.

Bolder had problems during rehearsal, earning a rebuke from Bowie. He returned to the dressing room to relearn his parts and played the whole show without mistakes.

Friday June 4

Bolder and Woodmansey joined Ronson at Haddon Hall, later moving to a flat nearby in Beckenham. The band rehearsed in the basement then moved up to the hall, near the living room where Bowie had his piano by the window.

Tuesday June 8

Hunky Dory recording session

Trident Studios, St. Anne’s Court, Wardour Steet, London
Producers: David Bowie and Ken Scott

Song For Bob Dylan

Wednesday June 9

Top Of The Pops television appearance with Peter Noone

Oh You Pretty Thing

Bowie played piano, wearing a dress.

Saturday June 12

Peter Noone single Oh You Pretty Things peaks at 12 in UK chart

Thursday June 17

Arnold Corns recording session
Trident Studios, London
Engineer: Roy Thomas Baker

Rudi Valentino/Freddi Burretti (vocals)
David Bowie (vocals, guitar)
Mick Ronson (vocals, guitar, lead guitar on Man In The Middle)
Trevor Bolder (bass)
Woody Woodmansey (drums)
Mark Pritchett (vocals, lead guitar on Looking For A Friend)

Looking For A Friend
Man In The Middle

A second Arnold Corns recording session for the planned album, Looking For Rudi, produced only two songs, neither of which were officially released. Looking For A Friend was Freddi Burretti’s only vocal appearance. Other mixes and takes of the song have Bowie singing the lead. Man In The Middle was composed and sung by Mark Pritchett, with Bowie on backing vocal.

Bowie in Gem's Fleet Street office photograph © Marcellus Hudalla

Monday June 21

Glastonbury Fayre, Worthy Farm, Pilton

DJ/promoter Jeff Dexter had invited Bowie to perform and recommended him to organiser John Coleman.

Bowie, Angie, Ronson, Grace, DeFries and Gillespie took the train to Castle Cary station and walked the rest of the way to the site through the country lanes. Bowie stayed with Dexter at the farmhouse of Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis. The schedule was thrown out by cold wet weather, so Bowie’s 7.30pm Tuesday slot was postponed to the Wednesday morning.

Wednesday June 23

Glastonbury Fayre, Worthy Farm, Pilton

Bowie at the farmhouse steps (top) and by the equipment trucks (above)
Photos © Gabi Nasemann

Thursday June 30

‘Right Then, Which One Is Dad?’ published in the Daily Mirror

Bowie in the Oxford bags and wizard hat that Angie bought him for Glastonbury. Angie in the Hunky Dory jacket Photos © Ron Burton

DeFries formalised the severance of Bowie’s Mercury contract and Ronson's Philips contract. With Dana Gillespie also cleared of obligations, DeFries and Myers planned a promotional album to showcase Bowie and Gillespie.

Dana Gillespie (2011): (DeFries's) attitude was ‘I’ll take care of this.’ He made sure nobody had any hassles to deal with, and was free to create.

July 1971

Friday July 9

Hunky Dory / David Bowie & Dana Gillespie promo LP recording session
Trident Studios, London

It Ain’t Easy
Bombers [two takes]

Bowie’s cover of Ron Davies' It Ain't Easy would be held over for Ziggy Stardust. As on the John Peel radio session, Dana Gillespie sang backing vocals. Rick Wakeman played harpsichord.

Wednesday July 14

David Bowie & Dana Gillespie promo LP recording
Trident Studios, London


Sunday July 18

Rehearsals, London, near Victoria Station

Ronson, Bowie and Woodmansey photo © Rodney Bingenheimer

Wednesday July 21

Country Club, Haverstock Hill, Hampstead

Bowie, Ronson, Woodmansey and Rick Wakeman played a set based around the Hunky Dory songs plus The Supermen, Memory Of A Free Festival, Buzz The Fuzz (Biff Rose), It Ain’t Easy, Amsterdam and It’s Gonna Rain Again.

Bowie invited Wakeman to join as keyboardist and musical arranger, but later that night, Chris Squire called Wakeman with an invitation to join Yes, which he accepted.

Wednesday July 21
Thursday July 22
Saturday July 24
Monday July 26

David Bowie & Dana Gillespie promo LP production
Trident Studios, London

Following a final seven-hour mixing session, the LP was pressed privately with green Gem labels.


David Bowie & Dana Gillespie

promotional album

Side one: David Bowie
Oh! You Pretty Things 3:12
Eight Line Poem 2:55
Kooks 2:58
It Ain't Easy (Ron Davies) 3:01
Queen Bitch 3:17
Quicksand 5:07
Bombers-Andy Warhol intro 3:30

Side two: Dana Gillespie
Mother Don't Be Frightened (Gillespie) 4:15
Andy Warhol 2:44
Never Knew (Gillespie) 3:32
All Cut Up On You (Gillespie) 3:23
Lavender Hill (Gillespie) 3:22

Side one produced by David Bowie and Ken Scott
Side two produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson
Musicians as on Hunky Dory

Friday July 30

Hunky Dory recording session
Trident Studios, St. Anne's Court, Wardour Street, London

The Bewlay Brothers

August 1971

Sunday August 1

The Marquee Club, 90 Wardour St, London (with Mick Ronson)

Monday August 2

Geri Miller and Andy Warhol in London • photograph © Douglas Miller

The cast of Andy Warhol’s Pork arrived in London for a 26-night run at the Roundhouse in Camden. Playwright Tony Ingrassia had constructed the play from Andy Warhol's tapes of his phone conversations with Brigid Polk. These deadpan exchanges were reenacted by a Warhol-like Tony Zanetta and ‘Amanda Pork’ (played by Cherry Vanilla), accompanied by unsavoury behaviour from the eight-strong cast. The ensuing media outrage provided enough publicity to fill the Roundhouse for most of the season.

Cast of Pork at Mayfair Gallery, London

Pork cast and crew at London's Mayfair Gallery, August 8

Friday August 6

Hunky Dory
Trident Studios, London

Life On Mars?
Song For Bob Dylan [second version]

With the album sessions complete, Bowie and Grace went to Ken Scott’s home to select the tracks for Hunky Dory.

Wednesday August 11

Country Club, Haverstock Hill, Hampstead (with Mick Ronson)
Support: Tucky Buzzard

Bowie and Ronson again played as a duo, on guitar and piano respectively with Angie on the lighting. In the audience was a contingent from the Pork production. Leee Black Childers and Cherry Vanilla had been doing the rounds of live shows in London since their arrival, gaining free entry posing as journalists from Circus magazine. Both were avid readers of the rock press, and Childers remembered John Mendelsohn’s Bowie profile in Rolling Stone in April.

Leee Black Childers (2010): One day I saw this little ad for David Bowie playing at the Country Club, on Haverstock Hill and I said ‘Let’s go see him.’ And they said ‘Who’s he?’ and I said ‘All I know is I read somewhere that he wears dresses’ and Wayne County said ‘Dresses? Okay let’s go!’

They were disappointed to find Bowie in his usual baggy pants and floppy hat - not a dress in sight. Bowie noted their arrival and introduced them to the audience, then played Andy Warhol. Cherry Vanilla registered her approval by flashing a breast.

Leee Black Childers (1986): I think he was a lot more impressed with us than we were with him. It was hard to say anything about David. Angie was smarter, Dana was sexier and Ronson was cuter.

Wayne County (2009): We kind of took him under our wing and we all decided to help him out. You know, glam him up and make him more outrageous.

Afterwards as both parties mingled at a club – Yours And Mine – Bowie sat back, watching. Childers observed that, “He was rarely a participant in anything.” Bowie was dazzled by it all but it took Angie to turn it to their advantage. Jayne County recalls her telling Bowie that "he needed to change his image and start getting some attention too.”

Thursday August 12

Pork at The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, London

Backstage with Dana Gillespie and Tony DeFries and Angie (below)

Invited by Leee Childers and Cherry Vanilla the night before, Bowie, Angie, Dana Gillespie, Tony DeFries and Freddi Burretti were at the Roundhouse to see Pork and be introduced to the rest of the cast. Bowie and Angie were transfixed and returned several times.

Angie Bowie (2010): It had a big impact on me. It made me know the kind of stage show that I thought would make David a star. That’s all I was looking at, from that point of view. I was there to borrow, I thought OK, we’ve done Lindsay Kemp, we’ve done the ballet thing, done the folk stuff. Now how are we going to make this rock band different from anything else? And I thought the only way we can do it is if we go beautiful. If we go great tailoring, gorgeous fabrics, handsome men, all just looking amazing, young and handsome and fabulous!

Friday August 13

DeFries flew to New York for ten days of negotiations with record companies, some of whom had shown interest in signing Bowie. DeFries played the Bowie-Gillespie promo to A&R executives at CBS, Bell, United Artists and RCA. He had already sent a Hunky Dory acetate to John Cale who was working in A&R at Warner Bros. Cale loved it and had fought hard for the label to accept DeFries's offer, to no avail.

DeFries opted for RCA when their newly appointed A&R head Dennis Katz made a last minute bid to top an offer from United Artists.

By 1971, Elvis’ sales were in decline and Dennis Katz was brought in to sign new artists, assisted by in-house producer Richard Robinson and his wife Lisa Robinson, an influential music journalist who edited Rock Scene and contributed columns to New Musical Express.

Richard Robinson (2009): RCA was in a situation where it was a major corporation of the old school, trying to survive and not being quite sure what was going on.

On the advice of these arbiters of cool, Katz signed The Kinks and Lou Reed, who had left The Velvet Underground. They urged Katz to sign Bowie.

Under the contract Bowie would deliver RCA three albums over a two-year period. The advance of $37,500 per album RCA had agreed to pay was, by industry standards, a modest asking price and reasonable, given that Bowie’s previous albums for Mercury had sold poorly. But DeFries knew that once he had the master tapes of those albums, he would be able to lease them to RCA for $20,000.

Myers had also included a crucial proviso in the contract. As a precaution designed to give Gem control over the back catalogue, the clause called for the reversion of all of the masters of Bowie’s RCA recordings and the Mercury albums after 15 years. It was a demand, admitted Myers later, which he borrowed from Allen Klein.

RCA however agreed to the reversion clause. At that point no one envisaged Bowie’s career lasting until 1986.

Saturday August 14

'The Space Oddity Comes Down to Earth' published in NME

Friday August 27

Following Gem’s negotiations with Mercury, Bowie is effectively free to sign with RCA. Mercury would return Bowie’s recordings and artwork on payment of $17,844 – representing Mercury’s total investment in Bowie’s career.

Saturday August 28

Pork at The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, London

Following the last show at the Roundhouse, the Bowies joined the celebrations backstage and at the new Hard Rock Café in Mayfair.

September 1971

Wednesday September 8

London to New York

Bowie flew to New York with Angie, Ronson and DeFries to sign the RCA contract. Bowie reintroduced Tony Zanetta to DeFries as the actor who played Andy Warhol. DeFries told Zanetta that Warhol’s films were not being handled properly and appointed Zanetta (now called Z as DeFries was ‘Tony’) as New York liaison, instructing him to set up a meeting with Warhol. Z's main job was creating a buzz around Bowie and ushering him through the New York demimonde.

Thursday September 9

RCA Records, Sixth Avenue, New York

Bowie signed his recording contract and met the RCA executives, including Dennis Katz, Richard Robinson and his rock journalist wife, Lisa.

Lisa Robinson (1990): Bowie wanted to meet me. He also wanted to meet Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, both of whom were friendly with my friend Danny Fields.

Leee Black Childers, Danny Fields, Cherry Vanilla, Lisa Robinson, Henry Edwards at Max's Kansas City photograph © William Randolph

Lisa Robinson occupied a pivotal position inside the backroom at Max’s Kansas City, the centre of the New York underground music scene. She arranged a dinner at the Ginger Man restaurant on East 36th Street where Bowie met Lou Reed. Reed warmed to Bowie and later that week at the Warwick Hotel, played Bowie demos of his planned album.

Bowie played him an acetate of Hunky Dory, and Reed was impressed, particularly (and unsurprisingly) with Velvets tribute Queen Bitch. Responding to Bowie’s Andy Warhol, Reed joked that The Velvet Underground once had an idea to produce an Andy Warhol doll which, when you wound it up, did nothing at all.

Later at Max’s Lisa Robinson introduced Bowie to Danny Fields, an Elektra A&R 'house hippy' who had signed The Stooges. Elektra had since dropped them after two albums. Iggy Pop was at a loose end, without a band, addicted to heroin and staying with Fields.

Iggy Pop (1974): I was sitting around Danny Fields' one night watching Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, and I was deep into it when Danny calls from Max's. Says, 'You remember this guy David Bowie?' A year ago in Melody Maker he'd listed me as his favourite singer or something. So Danny says, 'Grab a cab down to Max's, he wants to meet you.' I made it down there just as they were about to close. It was ridiculous. They said ‘Are you hungry?’ and I said 'Uh-huh!’ I hadn't eaten in about four days, so they took me out and I ordered two dinners. This was the exact time that I wanted to approach Tony [DeFries] about managing me, so we talked about it, and I signed my soul.

Iggy Pop and Lou Reed at Max's photograph © Danny Fields

Friday September 10

After a long breakfast meeting at the Warwick, DeFries and Bowie discussed Iggy Pop’s situation. He would need to quit heroin so DeFries put him up at the hotel to begin a methadone program.

Tuesday September 14

The Factory, 33 Union Square, New York

Tony Zanetta invited Bowie, Angie, Ronson and DeFries to the Factory to meet Andy Warhol.

Bowie (1974): I met this man who was the living dead. Yellow in complexion, a wig on that was the wrong colour, little glasses. I extended my hand and the guy retired, so I thought, ‘The guy doesn’t like flesh, obviously he’s reptilian.’ He produced a camera and took a picture of me. And I tried to make small talk with him, and it wasn’t getting anywhere. But then he saw my shoes. I was wearing a pair of gold-and-yellow shoes, and he says, ‘I adore those shoes, tell me where you got those shoes.’ He then started a whole rap about shoe design and that broke the ice.

Then Bowie played the acetate of Andy Warhol to him.

Bowie (2011): He hated it, loathed it. He went ‘Oh, uh-huh …’ then just walked away. I was kind of left there. Somebody came over and said, ‘Gee, Andy hated it.’ I said, ‘Sorry, it was meant to be a compliment.’ ‘Yeah, but you said things about him looking weird. Don’t you know that Andy has a thing about how he looks? He’s got a skin disease and he really thinks that people see that.’

At the Factory that day were three other Warhols: Tony Zanetta (who played Warhol in Pork), Bowie (who played Warhol in Basquiat) and Allen Midgette (who would assume the role of Warhol on speaking tours).

Three Warhols: Allen Midgette, Bowie and Andy Warhol

Bowie also met Interview editor Glenn O’Brien and took part in a 15-minute ‘screen test’ filmed by Michael Netter. Bowie, used to ‘acting’ when put in front of a camera, performed a mime routine (involving pulling out his intestines).

Tuesday September 21

Sounds of the 70s: Bob Harris radio session
Studio T1, Kensington House, Shepherds Bush, London

Bowie and Ronson performed as a duo for his only stereo BBC radio session.

Saturday September 25

The Friars Club, Aylesbury

Sunday September 26

Implosion, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, London
(with Mick Ronson)

October 1971

Monday October 4

Seymour Hall, London – The Gay Liberation Front benefit concert (with Mick Ronson)

Friday October 15

Ziggy Stardust rehearsals
Underhill Studios, Greenwich

Work began on the new album with ten days of at Underhill, a cheap new two-roomed studio opened by Will Palin. Ken Scott will be producer.

Ken Scott (2012): A couple of weeks after the completion of Hunky Dory, I happened to run into David Bowie in the hallway at Trident. At some point during the conversation he casually mentioned "I'm going to be recording a new album." "You're kidding, right? Hunky Dory isn't even out yet," I replied. David went on to tell me that it was his management's idea to do another album, but he ominously added, "I don't think you're going to like this one. It's much more rock 'n' roll."

Friday October 22

Walnut Whirl (Flowers, Tatham, Banks) 2:45 Right On Mother 2:32

Peter Noone single released in UK
RAK 121

November 1971

Sunday November 7

Alice Cooper at Rainbow Theatre, London

Bowie's interest was piqued by reports of the show’s extravagant theatricality, and brought along the rest of the band to witness the effect of the costumes and makeup.

Trevor Bolder (1995): It was very theatrical and we all thought it was great, but David said, ‘Wait till you see what we can do’. They were wearing makeup and were a really heavy band, and it looked good, so we went along with it too.

Alice Cooper (2016): [Bowie] probably had it in his mind already to be Ziggy Stardust, but this [concert] kind of opened that door, because he saw what it could be. He created an entirely new character. I was pushing that. I was hoping more people would jump into the theatrical part of it and create characters, so there was no animosity between Bowie and myself. If anything, I really admired what he was doing.

Monday November 8

Ziggy Stardust album recording sessions

Trident Studios, London
Producer: Ken Scott

Rock'n'Roll Star
Hang On To Yourself

Both takes subsequently scrapped

Thursday November 11

Ziggy Stardust album recording sessions

Trident Studios, London

Hang On To Yourself [take 8 used]
Ziggy Stardust
Looking For A Friend
He's A Goldmine [released in 1975 as Velvet Goldmine]
Sweet Head [take 7 later released on 1990 Ryko reissue of Ziggy Stardust]

Having scrapped the first takes from the first session, the two tracks were re-recorded. The other songs recorded on the day (like many others during the Ziggy sessions) would be deemed unsuitable for the album and remained unreleased for several years.

Friday November 12

Ziggy Stardust album recording sessions

Trident Studios, London

Moonage Daydream [two takes]
Soul Love
The Supermen [two takes]
Lady Stardust [two takes]

Saturday November 13

RCA ran a full-page ad for Hunky Dory, with Bowie annotating each song on Warwick Hotel stationery during the September US trip.


Changes - This album is full of my changes and those of some of my friends.

Pretty - The reaction of me to my wife being pregnant was archetypal daddy - Oh he's gonna be another Elvis. This song is all that plus a dash of sci-fi.

Eight - The city is a kind of high-life wart on the backside of the prairie.

Life on Mars - This is a sensitive young girl’s reaction to the media.

Kooks - The baby was born and it looked like me and it looked like Angie and the song came out like - if you're gonna stay with us you're gonna grow up Bananas.

Quicksand - The chain reaction of moving around throughout the bliss and then the calamity of America produced this epic of confusion - Anyway, with my esoteric problems I could have written it in Plainview - or Dulwich.

There is a time and space level just before you go to sleep when all about you are losing theirs and whoosh void gets you with its cacophony of thought - that's when I like to write my songs.

Fill - Biff Rose song.

Andy - A man of media and anti-message, with a kind of cute style.

Bob - This is how some see B.D.

Queen - A song on a Velvet Underground-Lou Reed framework s'about London sometimes.

Bewlay - Another in the series of David Bowie confessions – Star Trek in a leather jacket.

His notes were followed by excerpts of glowing reviews from US critics:

“David Bowie is the most singularly gifted artist creating music today. He has the genius to be to the Seventies what Lennon, McCartney, Jagger and Dylan were to the Sixties.” – Rock Magazine

“(A) magnificent outrage.” – Rolling Stone

“The most intellectually brilliant man yet to choose the long-playing album as his medium of expression.” – The New York Times

Monday November 15

Ziggy Stardust album recording sessions
Trident Studios, London

Five Years
It’s Gonna Rain Again
Shadow Man

Also recorded by this stage:

Round And Round
Port Of Amsterdam
Holy Holy [new version]

By the eve of Hunky Dory’s release, Bowie had recorded enough for the follow up album, and an early tracklist for Ziggy Stardust was drawn up:

Five Years
Soul Love
Moonage Daydream
Round And Round
Port Of Amsterdam

Hang On To Yourself
Ziggy Stardust
Velvet Goldmine
Holy Holy
Lady Stardust

The Ron Davies song It Ain’t Easy, left over from the Hunky Dory sessions was still out of the running, since they already had two covers.

Even as Brian Ward was preparing US press kits with the recent Hunky Dory photos, Bowie was moving on from his Lauren Bacall/Greta Garbo image, starting with a haircut from Trevor Bolder, who used to be a hairdresser. Bolder feathered the back and sides and emphasised the length by cropping the top – the first stage of the creation of the Ziggy Stardust hairstyle.

December 1971

Changes 2:32 Andy Warhol 3:03

single released in US
RCA 74-0605
Chart peak 66

Saturday December 4

Hunky Dory

album released in US
RCA LSP-4623
Chart peak 176

Side one
Changes 3:33
Oh! You Pretty Things 3:12
Eight Line Poem 2:53
Life On Mars? 3:48
Kooks 2:49
Quicksand 5:03

Side two
Fill Your Heart (Biff Rose-Paul Williams) 3:07
Andy Warhol 3:58
Song For Bob Dylan 4:12
Queen Bitch 3:13
The Bewlay Brothers 5:21

Friday December 17

Hunky Dory

album released in UK
RCA SF 8244
Chart peak 3 (on its 1972 reissue)

Sunday December 25

Bowie, Angie and Zowie spent Christmas in Cyprus with Angie’s parents.




Bowie Golden Years v1.0 created and designed by Roger Griffin 2000
Bowie Golden Years v2.0 2017-2020

Photographs and texts have been credited wherever possible

this page updated February 19, 2022