BOWIE GOLDEN YEARS

1970  •  1971  •  1972  •  1973  •  1974  •  1975  •  1976  •  1977  •  1978  •  1979  •  1980

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JANUARY 1974

Tuesday 1 January

Recording: Studio 2, Olympic Studios, Barnes
Engineers: Keith Harwood, Andy Morris

Take It In Right (demo)
Candidate (demo)

Take It In Right (later retitled Can You Hear Me) was written for Lulu as a follow up single to the The Man Who Sold The World; Candidate for the projected Nineteen Eighty-Four musical.

Candidate released on
Diamond Dogs reissue (Rykodisc/EMI 1990)
Diamond Dogs 30th Anniversary 2CD Edition (EMI 2004)

Tuesday 8 January

Bowie went to see Metropolis with Amanda Lear and George Underwood at the Everyman cinema in Hampstead .

Amanda Lear (1978): It was a real big thing for him. He was so paranoid about going out in daylight and being recognised. We saw Fritz Lang's Metropolis and David was in awe of it. He rented the film and ran it over and over again in his house. And that's where Diamond Dogs came from – the whole staging and album and everything, Bowie got from Metropolis.

Friday 11 January

The Man Who Sold The World 3:58
Watch That Man 5:11
Lulu single released in UK (Polydor 2001 490) UK Chart peak 3
Produced by Bowie and Mick Ronson

Both tracks reissued on
Oh! You Pretty Things: The Songs of David Bowie (Castle Music 2006)

Bowie supplied the backing track and supervised the sound for Lulu's appearance on Top Of The Pops performing the song in a black suit.

Lulu (2008): It was very Berlin/Cabaret. The Man Who Sold The World saved me from a certain niche in my career.

Monday 14 January

Recording: Studio 2, Olympic Studios, Barnes
Engineer: Andy Morris

Diamond Dogs

Rock 'N' Roll With Me
Candidate
Big Brother
Diamond Dogs

Bowie was also working Are You Coming? Are You Coming? for the Nineteen Eighty-Four stage show, now renamed The 1980 Floor Show, to avoid any copyright problems which might otherwise arise.

Olympic threatened to ban Bowie from the studio until they were paid outstanding studio fees, so Bowie prioritised his album and shelved the Astronettes project. Instead they would make Ava's solo album later in the year.

• The tapes of the Astronettes sessions were eventually released as People From Bad Homes (Golden Years 1995)

Geoff MacCormack, Astronette (2008): They were just demos that we abandoned to come back to at another time. [Tony Defries] had the tapes and without asking anybody just put them out. To my ears, the music wasn't good. They were just demos, just ideas being thrown around.

Wednesday 30 January

Photo session: Terry O'Neill

Diamond Dogs cover

Bowie met with Belgian artist Guy Peellaert at his hotel to discuss artwork for the Diamond Dogs album cover, then joined Terry O'Neill at a hired studio for the photography on which Peellaert would base the cover art.

Terry O'Neill (2013): I had shot the dog first and then a few frames of Bowie posing in his inimitable way – which was at ease but totally in control. Then I said, 'What about trying one with you and the dog?' Just as I started shooting, the bloody dog leapt up into the air towards the camera. It was quite aggressive and I was a bit taken aback, but I kept thinking: 'Thank God I'm using a wide-angle lens.' David just sat there throughout. He was totally unfazed.

Guy Peellaert (2000): It was only when we were at the session that he finally asked me if I would do a painting for him. The idea was so interesting I couldn't refuse.

FEBRUARY 1974

Mixing: Good Earth Studios, Shepherd's Bush, London

Diamond Dogs

With Olympic no longer an option, Bowie turned to Tony Visconti.

Tony Visconti (1982): He said, "I'm having trouble mixing and finishing this album, so why don't we get together again?" and he asked if I could recommend a good studio. I said I was building my own, so he wanted to come and see it, and when he did, it obviously felt right, and he decided he must finish the album there. We didn't even have chairs at that time, but he said it didn't matter, and the next day he went to Habitat or some place like that, and this big van showed up in front of my house, and out came tables, chairs, lounges and all that, and he completely furnished my studio so that he could finish his album there. We actually did our first day's work, before all the stuff arrived, sitting on a carpenter's horse – we were sitting on this horse mixing, and it was the following day, when everything arrived, that he said, "Well, we couldn't spend another day sitting on this wooden horse."

Tuesday 12 February – Thursday 21 February

The Bowies travelled to Amsterdam to promote Rebel Rebel, receive an award and put the final touches on the Diamond Dogs album.

Wednesday 13 February

Press conference: Amstel Hotel, Amsterdam

Ad Visser, host of Dutch music show Top Pop, presented Bowie with the Edison award for the Most Popular Male Vocalist, then poured two glasses of Schelvispekel, 'an old fishermen's drink'. Bowie remarked, “It tastes like old fishermen.”

Bowie's Freddie Burretti-designed outfit was inspired by Carmen, the flamenco rock group who had appeared on The 1980 Floor Show in October.

Bowie (1993): I had conjunctivitis so I made the most of it and dressed like a pirate. Stopped just short of the parrot. I had this most incredible jacket that I was wearing that night, it was a bottle-green bolero jacket that Freddie made for me, and he got an artist to paint, using the appliqué technique, this supergirl from a Russian comic on the back. But I took the jacket off during the press conference and somebody* stole it.

* Dutch journalist Elly de Waard took the jacket as retribution for being refused an interview with Bowie. She has since paraded it in staged events.

Television: AVRO studio, Hilversum, Netherlands
Director: Rien van Wijk

Top Pop

Rebel Rebel

• Broadcast 4 March
Best of Bowie DVD (EMI 2002)

Event: Edison Awards ceremony, Amsterdam

The Edisons – the Dutch equivalent of the Grammys – included a performance by Tony Orlando and Dawn singing their hit Tie A Yellow Ribbon. Orlando broke off singing the last verse when he spotted Bowie and Angie in the audience: “I can't believe what I see… Is that you?”

• Broadcast as Grand Gala du Disque February 8 (AVRO)

Thursday 14 February

Mixing: Studio L Ludolf Machineweg 8-12, Hilversum

Diamond Dogs

Friday 15 February

Rebel Rebel 4:22 / Queen Bitch 3:14
Single released in UK (RCA LPBO 5009) Chart peak 5

Friday 22 February

Bowie attended the first of Mick Ronson's two concerts at the Rainbow Theatre, where he was backed by Trevor Bolder, Mike Garson, Ritchie Dharma, Mark Pritchett and a horn section.

Thursday 28 February

'Beat Godfather Meets Glitter MainMan' published in Rolling Stone

March 1974

Friday 1 March

Slaughter on 10th Avenue

Mick Ronson album released in UK (RCA APL1-0353)

Tracks include
Growing Up And I'm Fine (Bowie)
Hey Ma Get Papa (Ronson-Bowie)
Music Is Lethal (Battisti-Bowie)

MainMan promoted Ronson's first album with all the fanfare expected of an established star. A coinciding UK tour helped Slaughter on 10th Avenue make its chart debut at number 9. MainMan then rented one of New York's most expensive billboards in Times Square to advertise the album with a painted image of Ronson topless.

Saturday 2 March

Rebel Rebel peaks at number 5 in the UK charts

Thursday 7 March

Bowie took delivery of Guy Peellaert's Diamond Dogs artwork. The album would be in the record shops six months before It's Only Rock 'N' Roll.

Bowie (1976): Mick [Jagger] was silly. I mean, he should never have shown me anything new. I went over to his house and he had all these Guy Peellaert pictures around and said, “What do you think of this guy?” I told him I thought he was incredible. So I immediately phoned him up. Mick's learned now, as I've said. He will never do that again.

The Diamond Dogs cover painting © Guy Peellaert

Friday 8 March

David and Angie attended Peellaert's Rock Dreams exhibition and book launch at the Rainbow Room in London.

Guy Peellaert with the Bowies at the book launch

 

The Rock Dreams cover painting included Bowie in the pantheon © Guy Peellaert


Bowie in a double spread with Lou Reed © Guy Peellaert

Mid March

Plans for the West End stage show of Nineteen Eighty-Four were ditched in favour of an extensive American tour with a strong theatrical element. Defries planned to ‘unretire' Bowie by launching him in America as an entertainer, branded with one name – Bowie.

Broadway designer Jules Fisher flew to London and met with Bowie who briefed him on the concept for the Diamond Dogs stage show. Fisher then brought in Mark Ravitz to design the Hunger City set.

Jules Fisher (1985): For Diamond Dogs, he had an understanding of German expressionist art and film – he wanted that image. He said, “I see a town, like the one in The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari.”

Mark Ravitz (1985): David gave me three clues – power, Nuremberg and Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

Jules Fisher (1995): There were four towers that were the basis of the design, and they were made of newsprint that could be torn apart, so Bowie could actually climb one of these towers and destroy the building during the concert. There was also a bridge across here, and during the concert the bridge lowered down to the stage so that he could step off of it and sing downstage. And at the end it raised up again. And there was a door that opened up and a cherry picker arm came forward and extended out over the first six rows of the audience.

On Angie's recommendation, Bowie brought in Toni Basil, a choreographer working with The Lockers, an urban dance troupe with a street sense that fitted Bowie's Diamond Dogs concept.

Tony Visconti (2000): Toni Basil taught him things like, don't ever waste a movement. If you have to put your microphone down, do it with a flourish. If you have to walk from one side of the stage to the other, do it with great dramatic gestures. Throw your head back before you put your first step out.

Toni Basil (1985): We talked about the Living Theatre and mime. David had this idea about having ropes tied around the necks of some dancers. When I told him he could do it if he was careful, he yelled to Corinne, "The Diamond Dogs number is back in!"

Corinne Schwab (or Coco, as Geoff MacCormack nicknamed her) was planning to move on from the London MainMan office, where she'd been keeping creditors at bay, and was now assisting Bowie.

Coco Schwab (2001): I got started working with David by answering an ad in the Evening Standard in London asking for "Girl Friday needed for busy office". I had run my finger down the page and stopped there in totally arbitrary fashion. I needed a job to earn expense money for a trip my photographer friend and I were planning to take. We had a magazine interested in us to do a story of two girls on a Greyhound bus tour of America, kind of Jack Kerouac On The Road style, but two girls as opposed to two guys. They were only willing to pay a certain amount upfront and we thought to save a bit more we'd get short-term jobs. When I was ready to leave MainMan six months later, David called and asked me why I was leaving. I explained about this Greyhound bus tour of America thing. He paused for a minute and said, “How about a limousine tour of America?" I paused for about a nanosecond and said something like, "Uh, okay." Needless to say, I don't think my photographer friend ever truly forgave me.

Gloria Harris had moved on so Bowie appointed Coco as his personal assistant, a position she held until Bowie passed away.

Friday 22 March

Weren't Born A Man
Dana Gillespie album released in UK (RCA APL1 0354)

Tracks included
Backed A Loser (Bowie) and Bowie-Ronson productions
Andy Warhol (Bowie) and Mother Don't Be Frightened (Gillespie)

Monday 25 March

Recording: Olympic Studios, Barnes
Producer: David Bowie

Can You Hear Me [Lulu]

David Bowie (guitar)
Tony Newman (drums)

Friday 29 March

Travel: London – Paris

While Mick Ronson worked on string arrangements for Can You Hear Me in London, Bowie and MacCormack travelled to Paris, where they stayed at the Raphael Hotel and ran into Ronnie Wood.

April 1974

Monday 3 April

Travel: Paris – Cannes – New York

After stopping off for a couple of hours at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes, Bowie and MacCormack boarded SS France for New York.

Geoff MacCormack (2007): We nearly missed the boat from Paris. David fell in love with a girl on a revue show and I had a girlfriend there at the time. We had a suite in the Carlton Hotel for three nights but all we managed was to get back just in time to grab a banana, have a quick wash and get in a limo taking us back to get our boat. Geoff MacCormack. 'Station To Station: Travels With Bowie 1973-76' (Genesis Publications, 2007)

After Bowie heard the crew were disappointed that he was not scheduled to play on the voyage, he turned up in the canteen with an acoustic guitar.

Bruno Rabreau, SS France receptionist (2006): We enjoyed more than ten songs and especially Space Oddity which was the first one, and a few crew members took instruments too and played with him. It was a really, really good time. He was a very ordinary person and very friendly to us. Patrick Jackson. 'Surreal times on the SS France' (BBC News, June 2006)

SS France in Hong Kong, 1974

Thursday 11 April

Bowie and MacCormack arrived in New York, autographed fan club booklets then left to check into the Sherry Netherlands Hotel on Fifth Avenue.

Photo by David Smith

Photo by David Smith

Bowie signs autographs on the New York docks (Photographer unknown)

Friday 12 April

Rock 'N' Roll Suicide 2:58
Quicksand 5:03
Single released in UK (RCA LPBO 5021) Chart peak 22

The first record credited to ‘Bowie' and his first RCA single to miss the British Top 20 since Changes in January 1972.

Mid April

Recording: RCA Studios, New York

Rebel Rebel [US version]
Can You Hear Me [Lulu]

Filming: RCA Studio 4D, 155 E 24th St, New York
Producer: Cherry Vanilla

Diamond Dogs television commercial

In New York Bowie looked after the final stages of the Diamond Dogs album production, filming a short television commercial produced by Cherry Vanilla (pictured below with Bowie) at RCA Studio D.

 

RCA Studios with Cherry Vanilla

With Cherry Vanilla © Macs McAree

 

In RCA Studios, New York

With Cherry Vanilla © Macs McAree

 

Photo © Macs McAree

While there, he reworked Rebel Rebel for the American market, with tape effects, more percussion and a new arrangement, which he retained for the 1974 tour.

Geoff MacCormack (2008): David and I got very heavily into Latin music. He decided we should put down a new backing vocal and have some congas all the way through Rebel Rebel. So when we got to New York, they ordered some congas for me and I put a heavy conga thing all the way through and we sang those backing vocals.

He also worked on a version of Can You Hear Me for Lulu, whom he was grooming as a soul singer.

Playing guitar on the sessions was Carlos Alomar from The Main Ingredient. Bowie was impressed and asked Alomar to work on the tour starting in June, however Defries refused to match Alomar's pay at the time – $800 a week – so Alomar declined the offer.

Even so, Alomar noticed Bowie's emaciated state and invited him home for dinner. They became good friends and Alomar accompanied Bowie and Ava Cherry to Harlem to see acts including The Temptations, The Spinners and Marvin Gaye at venues such as the legendary Apollo Theatre.

Carlos Alomar (1997): Tony Sylvester, one of the singers in The Main Ingredient, told me about this guy named David Bowie who was producing Lulu at one of the RCA studios. Tony said, "They need a guitar player and I recommend you." I knew who Lulu was because I saw To Sir, With Love, but I didn't know who David Bowie was. I didn't have a clue. I took him to the Apollo. Here we are in 1973, in the center of Harlem, particularly at the front entrance of the theatre. There is a line. A long line! And a stretch limousine pulls up. Out comes the whitest, white man imaginable with stark red flaming hair, who proceeds to walk right up to the front entrance and pass right through, ignoring the obvious gawks, stares, gapping mouths and probable profanities. This act in itself marks the nature of the man ... his ability to follow through for the sake of his art was evident right from the start.

Wednesday 17 April

Social: Rodin - Mis en Vie premiere, New York

Bowie, MacCormack and Cherry Vanilla attended the New York premiere of the ballet based on the life of sculptor Auguste Rodin. Bowie was impressed with the performance and staging concepts, particularly in the final scene, 'The Gates of Hell', in which the entire company climbed up and descended from an ominous fifty-foot scaffolding. Bowie met Michael Kamen, who scored the production, and invited him to join the tour as musical director.

Friday 19 April

Social: Todd Rundgren's Utopia at Carnegie Hall, New York

Bowie and Ava Cherry attended the concert and the Bearsville Records aftershow party at Shun Lee restaurant.

Todd Rundgren afterparty

Bowie makes his entrance © Bob Gruen

 

Ava Cherry and Bowie

With Ava Cherry © Bob Gruen

Sounds writer Martin Kirkup interviewed Bowie about his first week in New York, the tour plans and the imminent release of the new album Diamond Dogs. Bowie also caught up with Melody Maker US Editor Chris Charlesworth who reported that “he drank champagne with his companion Ava Cherry and fled when the snapping flashbulbs began to irritate.”

Ava Cherry, Bowie and Charlesworth

With Ava Cherry and Chris Charlesworth © Bob Gruen

May 1974

Saturday 4 May

'Diamond David' by Martin Kirkup published in Rock magazine.

Friday 24 May

Diamond Dogs
album released in UK (RCA APL1-0576) and US (RCA CPL1-0576)

 

JUNE 1974

Sunday 2 June

Social: Roxy Music at Academy of Music, New York

Afterwards Bowie and Ava Cherry attended the aftershow party held at artist Larry Rivers's East Village loft.

Dagmar photographed Bowie with Bryan Ferry and Amanda Lear. Also there was pre-fame Shaun Cassidy, only 15 at the time. Bowie asked him, "What inspired the silver boots?'' "Uh... you!" Cassidy replied.

 

Photo by Dagmar

Bryan Ferry, Amanda Lear, Bowie and Shaun Cassidy • Photo by Dagmar

 

Shaun Cassidy, Bowie and unknown guest

Shaun Cassidy, Bowie and unknown guest • Photo by Dagmar

Saturday 8 June – Monday 10 June

Tour rehearsals: Capitol Theater, Port Chester

Wednesday 12 June

Bowie and Coco Schwab left the Sherry Netherland Hotel and joined Stuart George and driver Jim James in the limousine for the nine-hour trip to Montreal. Meanwhile, three trailer trucks full of gear left the Capitol Theater to begin the same 600-mile journey.

Diamond Dogs Tour

David Bowie (vocals)
Mike Garson (piano, mellotron)
Earl Slick (lead guitar)
Herbie Flowers (bass guitar)
Tony Newman (drums)
Pablo Rosario (percussion)
David Sanborn (alto saxophone, flute)
Richard Grando (baritone saxophone, flute)
Michael Kamen (electric piano, moog, oboe)
Geoffrey MacCormack (aka Warren Peace) and Gui Andrisano (vocal backing/dogs)

The Diamond Dogs tour was originally planned to play five or so nights in each city, before moving on to the next city. The set cost $200,000 and the props $75,000.

Production run sheet detailing choreography and set changes

Friday 14 June

Live: Montreal: Forum

The preparation of the Hunger City stage was complete, but the sound system was overloaded and distorted and the bridge crashed to the ground with Bowie on it. The sound company was replaced and Porsche brakes were installed in the bridge. Hearing of this, Bowie quipped, “A Porsche brake? Isn't that how James Dean died?”

Nick Russyian, stage manager (1985): The technical problems were never resolved before we left Port Chester. David could have gotten electrocuted or killed.

Saturday 15 June

Live: Ottawa: Civic Center

Bryan Adams, musician (1993): It was just great. He wouldn't come back on for an encore and the crowd smashed the place to pieces, threw all the seats at the equipment and totalled the stage. The other funny thing that happened was that he had a cherry picker and it went up and got stuck and wouldn't come down. So we all got a good laugh out of that.

Sunday 16 June

Live: Toronto: O'Keefe Auditorium (2 shows)

The technical problems were resolved but Bowie suffered from laryngitis. Despite this he put on a “perfect show” impressing the group of US and UK writers Defries had flown in.

Report by Leee Black Childers in Hit Parader magazine

Monday 17 June

Live: Rochester, New York: War Memorial Auditorium

Tuesday 18 June
Wednesday 19 June

Live: Cleveland: Public Auditorium

Thursday 20 June

Live: Toledo: Sports Arena

Saturday 22 June

Live: Detroit: Cobo Arena

The show was transferred from Ford Hall at the last minute when they found the stage was too small to fit the set.

Angie and Zowie backstage in Detroit • photo Leee Black Childers

Report by Leee Black Childers in Hit Parader magazine

Report by Lenny Kaye, Disc and Music Echo

Sunday 23 June

Live: Detroit: Cobo Arena (cancelled)

Monday 24 June

Live: Dayton: Hara Arena

Tuesday 25 June

Live: Cincinnati: Gardens (cancelled)

Wednesday 26 June
Thursday 27 June

Live: Pittsburgh: Syria Mosque

Thursday 28 June

Live: Charleston: Civic Center

Friday 29 June

Live: Nashville: Municipal Auditorium

Backstage, Municipal Auditorium • photographed by Linda McCartney

Saturday 30 June

Live: Memphis: Mid-South Coliseum

JULY 1974

Monday 1 July

Live: Atlanta: Fox Theatre

During the journey to Tampa, the driver of the truck containing most of the set is stung by a bee and crashes.

Leee Black Childers (1974): He drove the truck into a swamp somewhere near Tampa, Florida. Bowie went on that night on a bare stage. He says it's the best audience reception he's had to date.

Leee Black Childers. ‘On Tour With Bowie' (Hit Parader, December 1974)

Bowie received a 20-minute ovation and returned for an encore.

Tuesday 2 July

Live: Tampa: Curtis Hixon Hall

Wednesday 3 July

Live: Orlando: Jai-Alai Fronton

Thursday 5 July

Live: Charlotte: Park Center Coliseum

Friday 6 July

Live: Greensboro: Coliseum

Saturday 7 July

Live: Norfolk: Scope Convention Center

Sunday 8 July – Saturday 13 July

Live: Philadelphia: Tower Theater

Bowie's backing band discovered that the Philadelphia shows were to be recorded (for David Live), and that they would be paid the standard show fee. Herbie Flowers (pictured below, right) protested to Bowie and Defries, saying they would not go on without an increased fee in line with the normal recording rates. On the basis of the likely sales of the album they calculated they were entitled to $50,000 ($5000 each).

Bowie relented, MainMan handed over the cheques (which some claim were never honoured) and the band went on and played the show.

Herbie Flowers (1985): I can claim to be a genius for setting up the tension before we did the show, because when we went on stage, the feeling of liberation in the band was glorious.

Tony Visconti was unable to get to the venue in time so David Live was recorded without him. Engineer Keith Harwood was left to do the job alone. The incorrect microphone placement meant that the instruments were not isolated properly, making the recording more difficult for Visconti to mix later.

Monday 9 July

Ava Cherry spends the day in Philadelphia's Sigma Sound Studios with Michael Kamen, recording three songs for her solo album – Everything That Touches You, Give It Away and Sweet Thing.

Friday 12 July

Sunday July 14

Live: New Haven: Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Monday 15 July

Live: Waterbury: Palace Theater

Tuesday 16 July

Live: Boston: Music Hall

Wednesday 17 July

Live: Hartford: Bushnell Auditorium
(replacing cancelled Cape Cod Memorial Coliseum)

Mixing: Electric Lady Studios, Greenwich Village, New York
Producer: Tony Visconti
Engineer: Eddie Kramer

David Live

Some of the backing vocals had to be rerecorded due to loss of microphone contact during the shows. The whole post production process was rushed in order to maximise sales and publicise the rest of the tour.

In the midst of all this, Tony Defries and his wife Liz divorced. According to his niece, "he was very nice until all this Bowie thing began."

Friday 19 July
Saturday 20 July

Live: New York: Madison Square Garden

Dagmar's photograph that Bowie chose for the David Live cover

Promoter Ron Delsener threw a lavish after-show party at the Plaza Hotel for an exclusive guest list of 40 including Mick Jagger. Bette Midler arrived with two of her Harlettes, Charlotte Crossley and Sharon Redd.

Charlotte Crossley (1977): After a while I noticed Bette was missing, so I went to look for her. I heard some commotion in a walk-in closet. I walked in and saw her smoking a joint with David and Mick. I freaked out. They asked me to join them but I said no, thank you. It was too heavy in there.

The New York concerts were videotaped for MainMan by John Dove for Bowie to review later. Bowie had become interested in video, so Dove taught him how to shoot, edit and apply effects.

• Report by Lisa Robinson: 'David Bowie has left the theatre', NME 27 July

 

August 1974

Bass guitarist Herbie Flowers and drummer Tony Newman left the touring band, replaced by Willie Weeks and Andy Newmark.

Sunday 11 August – Thursday 22 August

Recording: Studio A North, Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia
Producer: Tony Visconti

Young Americans

Bowie had been impressed by the studio when Ava Cherry was recording there in July. He also liked their connection with the Gamble and Huff recordings. Bowie and entourage stayed at the The Barclay on Rittenhouse Square for the duration of the sessions at Sigma.

A group of devoted Philadelphia fans, dubbed the Sigma Kids, staked out Sigma Studios and the Barclay Hotel, where Bowie would emerge each evening. They took pictures of him walking to the limo, and then quickly drove across town to Sigma Sound in time to see him arrive.

Thursday 22 August

After a long night of finishing touches to vocals and keyboard overdubs, Bowie invited the Sigma Kids into the studio.

 

 

Bowie (1974): We let them in and played them some things from the album and they loved it, which was amazing. Fabulous, because I really didn't know what they'd think about the change in direction.

Matt Damsker, Rolling Stone: Bowie played the album for the ten blissed-out, formerly camped-out, devotees, who'd been ushered into the studio, finally, at 5am by Stuart George. Bowie was an affable host as he signed more autographs, apologised for the unfinished mix of the album and agreed to play it a second time, at which point the party erupted into dance. Bowie took centre floor with a foxy stomp.

Matt Damsker. Philly Stopover: Fans and Funk (Rolling Stone, 1974)

Sigma studio photos by Dagmar

In eight days, they had recorded nine basic backing tracks for most of the album but only some of these made it on to the finished album. The rest came together in November, December and the following January.

Young Americans
John I'm Only Dancing (Again) [begun]
Right
Somebody Up There Likes Me
Who Can I Be Now?
Come Back My Baby [later retitled It's Gonna Be Me]
Can You Hear Me
After Today [two versions - fast and slow]

Who Can I Be Now?, It's Gonna Be Me and After Today were later dropped from the album and subsequently issued on later releases: Sound + Vision (Rykodisc/EMI 1989), Young Americans reissues (Rykodisc/EMI 1991 and EMI 2007) and Who Can I Be Now (EMI 2016).

Saturday 24 August

Travel: Philadelphia to Los Angeles

Bowie began the three-day rail journey to Los Angeles for the West Coast tour, starting with seven already sold-out Universal Amphitheatre dates.

Friday 30 August

Photo session: movie soundstage, Hollywood
Photographer: Eric Stephen Jacobs

Young Americans album cover

With the album considered to be finished, Bowie worked on ideas for the sleeve design. He settled on a design based on the cover of the latest issue of After Dark, a hand tinted portrait of his tour choreographer Toni Basil by photographer Eric Stephen Jacobs that evoked old Hollywood glamour.

He called Jacobs in New York and flew him to LA for the shoot.

Returning to his New York studio, Jacobs replicated the style of his previous portrait, including the hand colouring and the handpainted cigarette smoke, curling upwards to the title.

The Young American: A conversation with Eric Stephen Jacobs

Photo session: Playboy building, Hollywood
Photographer: Terry O'Neill

Young Americans promotion

Terry O'Neill shot a series of publicity photographs to accompany the new Young Americans album. Eric Stephen Jacobs's cover portrait presented Bowie in the 'old Hollywood' star tradition. Terry O'Neill's shots showed off Bowie's 'new Hollywood' look.

Television: Cracked Actor
Producer: Alan Yentob
Camera: Michael Murphy, David Myers
Sound: Pat Darrin

British filmmaker Alan Yentob arrived to make Cracked Actor, a documentary on Bowie's experiences in America for BBC's Omnibus program.

Alan Yentob (2013): I got a phone call out of the blue from Tony Defries, the self-proclaimed emperor of the fast-expanding Bowie dynasty trading under the name MainMan. Would I be interested in making a film about David as he embarked on his Diamond Dogs tour of North America? I met Bowie in New York and he promised to make time for me to get my film made in the midst of a staggeringly demanding schedule.

Alan Yentob (1985): When I started, I wanted to make a film about him called The Collector – about this man who seemed to adopt other people's gestures, presences or personalities … there were lots of allusions in his records, references to movies and all sorts of things.

The idea had occurred to Yentob the year before, when Bowie described himself on Russell Harty's show as “a collector – I collect things”.

SEPTEMBER 1974

 

Diamond Dogs West Coast Tour

David Bowie (vocals)
Earl Slick (lead guitar)
Carlos Alomar (guitar)
Michael Kamen (musical director, electric piano, moog, oboe)
Mike Garson (piano, mellotron)
David Sanborn (alto sax, flute)
Richard Grando (baritone sax, flute)
Doug Rauch (bass guitar) (ex-Santana)*
Greg Errico (drums) (ex-Sly and the Family Stone)*
Pablo Rosario (percussion)
Ava Cherry (backing vocals)
Warren Peace (backing vocals)
Gui Andrisano (backing vocals)
Luther Vandross (backing vocals)
Diane Sumler (backing vocals)
Anthony Hinton (backing vocals)

* Replaced Willie Weeks and Andy Newmark who joined George Harrison's 1974 American Tour backing band.

Dress rehearsal, Los Angeles • Photo by Terry O'Neill

Monday 2 September

Live: Los Angeles: Universal Amphitheatre

Robert Hilburn reviewed the first night and afterwards came to the Beverly Wilshire to talk about the new live album, but instead Bowie played him tracks from the Young Americans album, at that time tentatively titled One Damn Song.. "This isn't the new album,” Bowie told him, “but the one after it, and the record company doesn't like me to do that. We cut it in a week in Philadelphia and it can tell you more about where I am now than anything I could say."

Hilburn, Robert. ‘I'm Just Searching: Brave New World For David Bowie' (Los Angeles Times, 8 September 1974) – republished as ‘Bowie Finds His Voice' (Melody Maker, 14 September 1974)

Tuesday 3 September
Wednesday 4 September
Thursday 5 September

Live: Los Angeles: Universal Amphitheatre

Alan Yentob's crew filmed the Thursday night concert for the BBC Omnibus documentary Cracked Actor. The live footage included excerpts of Rebel Rebel, Moonage Daydream, Cracked Actor, Sweet Thing, Aladdin Sane, Time, Rock 'N' Roll Suicide, Diamond Dogs and John I'm Only Dancing.

• Entire concert (fittingly titled Cracked Actor) officially released on RSD 2017

Friday 6 September
Saturday 7 September
Sunday 8 September

Live: Los Angeles: Universal Amphitheatre

Following the final Amphitheatre concert, Bowie headed across town to a party for Al Green, hosted by Tito Jackson and his wife Dee Dee at their Los Angeles home. The Jackson 5 had invited Bowie after attending his concerts.

Bowie ended up around the fireplace, talking shop with Michael Jackson.

Bowie (2003): Michael spent much of the evening asking me about the production and how we built the city and where the ideas came from for all the different visuals.

The two also discussed choreography, particularly the walking movement devised for Aladdin Sane.

Bowie (2003): I was taught a 'backwards walk' by Toni Basil who choreographed The Lockers, one of the first black street-dance troupes. It was basically the Marcel Marceau walk but propelled backwards. It didn't have a name at that time, of course. She'd devised it with them and taught it to me for the Diamond Dogs show.* It's entirely possible that he copped the walk fourth hand, so to speak. I believe the nature of the show made a big impression on him.

Later at the party, Bowie, Green and Jackson traded dance moves – reported in Rock'n'Soul Songs magazine:

As the guests enjoyed the cake and the champagne, both Green and Michael Jackson were seen on the dancefloor teaching rock superstar David Bowie how to do The Robot with members of the Soul Train gang joining in.

* The ‘backwards walk' actually dated back to at least the Thirties, performed by Cab Calloway, tap dancer Bill Bailey and later by James Brown, but it was Michael Jackson who immortalised it as the Moonwalk.

Wednesday 11 September

Live: San Diego: Sports Arena

Friday 13 September

Live: Tucson: Community Center Arena

Knock On Wood (Floyd-Cropper) 3:08
Panic In Detroit 5:51
single released in UK (RCA 2466) Chart peak 10

Rock 'N' Roll With Me (Bowie-Peace) 4:17
Panic In Detroit 5:52
single released in US (RCA PB 10105)

Saturday 14 September

Live: Phoenix: Arizona Coliseum

Monday 16 September

Live: Anaheim: Anaheim Convention Center

The BBC crew filmed Elizabeth Taylor arriving at Anaheim with her companion Henry Wynberg. Afterwards Taylor swept into the dressing room. Bowie and Taylor reportedly hit it off instantly and began a brief but intense friendship.

Tuesday 17 September – Monday 30 September

Tour rehearsals: Cherokee Studios, Los Angeles

Seven dates were cancelled, creating a 17-day break until St Paul on 5 October. Bowie used the time to reshape and rehearse the new show – a stripped-down soul revue with a plain backdrop, to move the focus from the theatrics to the music.

Emir Ksasan (Carlos Alomar's bandmate from Main Ingredient) replaced Doug Rauch on bass. Dennis Davis replaced Greg Errico on drums.

Both Terry O'Neill and Yentob's film crew were on hand to document rehearsals, including the vocal arrangement for Right with Luther Vandross and Carlos Alomar's wife Robin Clark, who also joined the tour.

Bowie, Clark and Cherry rehearsing Right
Stills from Cracked Actor (Alan Yentob BBC)

Rehearsals with Mike Garson • Photo by Terry O'Neill

Friday 20 September

Bowie joined Elizabeth Taylor at Dean Martin's house on Mountain Drive, Beverly Hills (coincidentally pointed out to tourists by a Hollywood tour guide in Cracked Actor) for Dino's son Ricci's 21st birthday party. Bowie found Taylor chatting with John Lennon and May Pang. Taylor introduced them to Bowie.

Bowie (1999): John was sort of, Oh here comes another new one. And I was sort of, It's John Lennon! I don't know what to say. Don't mention the Beatles – you'll look really stupid. And he said, "Hello, Dave." And I said, "I've got everything you've made – except the Beatles."

Saturday 28 September

Photo session: George Cukor's house, Bel Air
Photographer: Terry O'Neill

People magazine with Elizabeth Taylor

O'Neill arranged the session at Cukor's Bel Air home, where Elizabeth Taylor was staying at the time. Cukor would be directing her the following year in The Blue Bird and a photo session was to accompany the announcement that Bowie had agreed to co-star with her in the film.

Bowie (1975): I never said that … Elizabeth Taylor did. It was her idea for me to be doing the film. I read the script though and it was very dry. I mean she was a nice woman and all, even if I didn't get much of chance to get to know her. She did tell me I reminded her of James Dean - that endeared me to her - but her script was so ... boring. My own films are more important anyway.”

Cameron Crowe, Rolling Stone, 12 February 1976

OCTOBER 1974

 

The Philly Dogs Tour aka The Soul Tour

"The set's being redesigned," Tony Zanetta told Rolling Stone. "We want to use the essential elements of it, so we will be carrying the four towers with us and will keep the lighting in those towers, but we won't be using the bridge or any of the special effects. Basically, it'll be a much simpler thing. Originally, we were going to use this one for the whole tour, but once the first half finished and David started working on his new material, he felt that he would rather have something a little different, that he wanted to do something that was closer to the new material. What we did with this show was we created a really theatrical environment for him to work in. Which was interesting. Now, not so much because he's tired of that or sick of that, but because his music is changing and going in a slightly different direction, and because he wants to use more people, like lead vocalists, onstage. He's just interested in a different visual presentation."

Saturday 5 October

Live: St Paul: Civic Center

Tuesday 8 October

Live: Indianapolis: Convention Center

Friday 11 October

Live: Madison: Dane County Coliseum

Sunday 13 October

Live: Milwaukee: Mecca Arena

Saturday 12 October – Tuesday 15 October

Recording: Star Studio, 37th and National Avenue, Milwaukee

Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars soundtrack

MainMan had arranged for DA Pennebaker's film of the Ziggy retirement show – then known as Bowie '73 With The Spiders From Mars – to be screened on American television with a stereo simulcast on FM radio. Bowie went into the studio with Mike Garson and Earl Slick to overdub some piano and guitar parts for the soundtrack, with the help from Dean and Sam Halonen and Robert Sage.

Tuesday 15 October – Sunday 20 October

Live: Detroit: Michigan Palace

Lester Bangs review

Wednesday 16 October

Filming: Channel 9 (CKLW-TV), Windsor, Ontario

David Live television commercial

The television station offered commercial production for a fraction of what New York production houses were charging. As a result the David Live commercial cost MainMan $5000 instead of $30,000.

Tuesday 22 October – Wednesday 23 October

Live: Chicago, Illinois: Arie Crown Theatre

Friday 25 October

Bowie '73 With The Spiders From Mars
broadcast on Wide World: In Concert (ABC)

MainMan arranged a 60-minute edit of DA Pennebaker's Ziggy retirement concert film to screen on American television with a stereo simulcast on FM radio. The broadcast version was censored in 20 places due to references to death and suicide in lyrics. The stereo simulcast however, went out uncensored. As such, it was probably the origin of the stereo bootleg records of the concert.

This version of the film included Jeff Beck's appearance, which was later cut for the 1983 theatrical release.

Monday 28 October

Live: New York: Radio City Music Hall

Richard Robinson wrote a withering review of the concert, published in NME, 9 November.

Onstage with Earl Slick

Tuesday 29 October

David Live

album released in US (RCA CPL2-0771) chart peak 8
and UK (RCA APL2-0771) chart peak 2

In a bid to get David Live atop the UK charts in its first week, RCA priced it at £3.78 for two months before reverting to the usual 2LP price £4.88.

Wednesday 30 October

Live: New York: Radio City Music Hall

John Rockwell, New York Times: He has now dropped most of the overt theatrics, written a clutch of new songs and retooled his whole show. The result, on Wednesday, was disappointing. Mr. Bowie's theatrics last summer may have had their problems – shapelessness, erratic pacing, pretension. But, at least there were some striking moments, and everything snapped along crisply, both dramatically and musically. On Wednesday, the proceedings led off with a lame half-hour by Mr. Bowie's band and mostly black back-up singers. When the star finally appeared, he seemed to be attempting to humanize his previous space-mutant image. But he looked self-consciously uncomfortable without routines to act out, and he was in hoarse voice indeed. The old songs were mostly unsuccessful, mannered and erratically distorted in phrasing. The four new songs appeared to be attempts at something a bit more conventional and direct, although the sound system and Mr. Bowie's vocal state made a real judgment of them impossible.

With David Johansen at Max's Kansas City Halloween party • Photo Bob Gruen

Thursday 31 October

Live: New York: Radio City Music Hall

NOVEMBER

Changes 2:32
Andy Warhol 3:03

Single reissued in US (RCA 74-0605) chart peak 41

Friday 1 November

Live: New York: Radio City Music Hall

Saturday 2 November

Live: New York: Radio City Music Hall

Television: The Dick Cavett Show

1984
Young Americans
Interview
Footstomping / I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate medley
Can You Hear Me

After Cavett's preamble (“I'm explaining this for the square johns at home”), Bowie performed 1984 and Young Americans with the band on the soundstage.

The interview that followed was somewhat stilted despite Cavett's attempts to make it amusing and casual.

Bowie (1994): It was horrendous. I had no idea where I was, I couldn't hear the questions. To this day, I don't know if I bothered answering them, I was so out of my gourd.

After the interview Bowie played a medley of early Sixties R&B covers – Footstomping (originally by The Flares) and I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate (The Olympics).

Bowie also performed Can You Hear Me, but before the show went to air on 5 December, the end of the broadcast tape was wiped so it was never broadcast, nor was the medley.

Sunday 3 November

Live: New York: Radio City Music Hall

After a series of scathing reviews of Wednesday's opening night, Bowie played a show that Mick Farren had nothing but praise for.

Mick Farren: All reports seemed to agree that the first early stagings in the five-night stint were on the abject side of rotten. On the Sunday night, however, Bowie finally pulled it together and staged one of the finest live rock spectaculars that New York has been treated to in years. The phenomenon of David Bowie fronting what amounts to an avant-garde soul show is a strange thing to watch. It's also a joy.

At the aftershow party at the Gramercy Park Hotel, Bowie entertained David Johansen, Tony Visconti, Wayne County and others with sturgeon and Dom Perignon. He revealed his plans for the New Year involved a January release for Young Americans, then touring South America for three weeks, taking a boat to Caracas then overland by Land Rover to Brazil, visiting Amazon villages along the way. He still intended to do The Blue Bird with Liz Taylor followed by a tour of Europe in April and England in May.

Photos by Joe Stevens

Wednesday 6 November

Live: Cleveland: Public Hall

Friday 8 November

Live: Buffalo: War Memorial Auditorium

Monday 11 November

Live: Landover: Capital Center

Thursday 14 November
Friday 15 November
Saturday 16 November

Live: Boston: Music Hall

Monday 18 November

Live: Philadelphia: Spectrum Theater

After the immediate sell-out of the 16,000-seat Spectrum, a second night was booked for the 25th. The concert was plagued by sound problems, which only increased the audience's hostility to The Garson Band who opened the show with an eight-song set.

Meanwhile in New York, Tony Ingrassia's play Fame (a comedy based on Marilyn Monroe's life) opened at the Golden Theatre on Broadway – and closed after one night – a resounding critical and financial failure that left MainMan $250,000 in the hole.

Tuesday 19 November

Live: Civic Arena, Pittsburgh

Wednesday 20 November – Sunday 24 November

Recording: Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia
Producers: Tony Visconti, Harry Maslin

Young Americans

John I'm Only Dancing (Again)
Can You Hear Me [version 2]
After Today [version 1, slow tempo]
Fascination
Win
It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City

Bowie booked more time at Sigma to rework some of the songs with the Soul Tour line-up. Luther Vandross had been performing his song Funky Music (Is A Part Of Me) as part of The Garson Band's opening set. Bowie took the song and reworked it with new lyrics as the co-written Fascination.

Sunday 24 November

Bowie was working on a cover of Bruce Springsteen's It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City which he had started in late 1973, and hoped to get Springsteen involved. Earlier in the week, Tony Visconti called Philadelphia DJ Ed Sciaky at WMMR and asked him if he could get Springsteen into the studio. Sciaky got in contact with Springsteen who caught a bus from New Jersey to Philadelphia, where Ed and Judy Sciaky found him "hanging with the bums in the station.” At midnight he arrived at Sigma.

The episode was reported the next day: Bowie meets Springsteen, The Drummer

Bowie (1997): Springsteen came down to hear what we were doing with his stuff. He was very shy. I remember sitting in the corridor with him, talking about his lifestyle, which was a very Dylanesque – you know, moving from town to town with a guitar on his back, all that kind of thing. Anyway, he didn't like what we were doing, I remember that. At least, he didn't express much enthusiasm. I guess he must have thought it was all kind of odd. I was in another universe at the time. I've got this extraordinarily strange photograph of us all – I look like I'm made out of wax.

Mike Garson, Bruce Springsteen, Tony Visconti and Bowie
in the control room at Sigma Sound

Ed Sciaky watched Bowie recording his vocal for Win.

Ed Sciaky (2002): He'd sing three lines, then have the engineer play them back, keeping the first line every time. It was spectacular, watching him work like a painter, hitting every line the way he wanted.

Around 7am Bowie asked engineer Carl Paruolo to play back the whole track twice from start to finish. After the second listen, he nodded and said, "That's it. It's done." Outside, the Sigma Kids outside started applauding and calling up at the studio windows.

Monday 25 November

Live: Philadelphia: Spectrum Theater

The scathing reviews of the previous Monday's concert were attributed to poor sound, so Visconti was assigned to conduct a more thorough sound check to ensure a better show.

Report in Disc magazine

Backstage Mike Garson told Disc magazine, that the new album – at that stage titled Fascination – was complete, consisting of seven tracks:

John, I'm Only Dancing (Again)
Young Americans
Fascination
Right
Win
It's Gonna Be Me
Can You Hear Me

After the concert Bowie celebrated the completion of Young Americans with a private party at Le Club Artemis.

Patti Brett (1999): The bars close at 2am and it was a quarter after three and we were still in the bar. It was a private party, but the police raided it and started taking David away! He was very calm. Everyone else in the bar was freaking out.

Photo by Joe Stevens

Wednesday 27 November

Social: George Harrison at Mid South Auditorium, Memphis

The night before Bowie played the same venue, he watched Willie Weeks and Andy Newmark playing in George Harrison's band and visited backstage. An witness later observed that Bowie and Harrison “didn't hit it off that well".

Thursday 28 November

Live: Memphis: Mid South Auditorium

Saturday 30 November

Live: Nashville: Municipal Auditorium

DECEMBER

Sunday 1 December

Live: Atlanta: The Omni

The last date of the tour featured the only performance of Win on the tour.

Tuesday 3 December

Recording, mixing: Record Plant, New York
Producer: Tony Visconti
Engineer: Harry Maslin
Tape operators: Kevin Herron, David Thoener

Young Americans

Win
Fascination
Right
Somebody Up There Likes Me

On Tour With Bowie by Leee Black Childers published in Hit Parader

Tony Visconti began mixing the album and adding overdubs. During this time Bowie ran into John Lennon who was also at Record Plant, finishing the mixes on his album Rock 'n' Roll. Bowie invited him over and later called Visconti at the studio. “John Lennon's coming to my suite at the hotel tonight and it would be great if you could be there to buffer the meeting between us.”

Visconti arrived at the Sherry Netherlands and knocked. A voice asked, “Who is it?” Visconti identified himself and the door was opened by Beatles aide-de-camp Neil Aspinall. Lennon and May Pang emerged from the bathroom, relieved it wasn't the police – a bust would destroy his chances of getting a green card.

After that night Bowie saw Lennon more often, and turned to him for advice regarding management and his dissatisfaction with Defries. Lennon himself was in litigation with Allen Klein at the time.

Dana Gillespie began a week of shows at Reno Sweeney's club in West 13th Street, New York. Bowie dropped in with Bette Midler and bumped into Bob Dylan, who was in town checking artwork for Blood On The Tracks.

Bowie (1976): We don't have a lot to talk about. We're not great friends. Actually, I think he hates me. We went back to somebody's house after some gig at a club and Dylan was there. And I just talked at him for hours and hours, and whatever I amused him or scared him or repulsed him, I really don't know. I didn't wait for any answers. I just went on and on about everything. And then I said good night. He never phoned me.

Thursday 5 December

Bowie's appearance on The Dick Cavett Show broadcast (ABC).

Mid December

Young Americans sessions now considered complete, Visconti took the master tapes and left for London. almost losing them at Kennedy Airport.

In London, Visconti added string arrangements to Can You Hear Me and Who Can I Be Now? at George Martin's Air Studios. He mixed the album at Good Earth Sound House, consulting the 18-page telegram of mixing suggestions Bowie sent from New York.

The album's track list at this stage:

Side one
John, I'm Only Dancing (Again)
Somebody Up There Likes Me
It's Gonna Be Me

Side two
Who Can I Be Now?
Can You Hear Me
Young Americans
Right

Late December

Recording, mixing: Record Plant, New York
Producers: David Bowie and Harry Maslin
Engineer: Harry Maslin
Tape operators: Kevin Herron, David Thoener

Young Americans

Bowie and Harry Maslin added more overdubs and remixed all the tracks except Young Americans – Visconti had already mixed and delivered it to RCA to release as the new single.

Monday 23 December

Bowie moved to the slightly less expensive Pierre Hotel where he kept two suites (at $700 a week) – one for living in, the other a studio, where he immersed himself in making films.

Bowie (1980): I recreated the set for Diamond Dogs – this was in the Pierre Hotel in New York – and I built three or four-foot high buildings out of clay on tables. Some were standing up, others were crumbling and I took the camera and put a micro-lens on it, zooming down the streets in between the tables. I tried animation out and had all these characters; the whole thing is so bizarre I'm going to put together and put it out as a cassette. And as it's silent – there's a few bits of strange music on it but nothing much else; mainly I used the Diamond Dogs album as a backing track… I had the whole roller skating thing in there. We had no more cars because of the fuel problems and these characters with enormous, rusty, sort of organic-looking roller skates with squeaking wheels that they couldn't handle very well. Also I had groups of these cyborg people wandering around looking so punky it's going to be a lovely tape to put out.

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this page updated December 9, 2019