BOWIE GOLDEN YEARS

1974  1975  1976  1977  1978  1979  1980 

DAVID LIVE  |  YOUNG AMERICANS  |  STATION TO STATION  |  LOW  |  HEROES  |  LODGER  |  SCARY MONSTERS

CRACKED ACTOR  |  THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH  |  JUST A GIGOLO  |  THE ELEPHANT MAN

ARTICLES  |  TV APPEARANCES

APRIL

11 Arrives in New York on the SS France. Checks into the Sherry Netherlands Hotel on 5th Avenue.

During his stay in New York Bowie spent time putting together a new tour band and seeing live music, particularly black artists such as The Temptations, The Spinners and Marvin Gaye at venues in Harlem such as the Apollo Theatre.

19 Bowie also sees Todd Rundgren's band Utopia at Carnegie Hall and attends the aftershow party.

JUNE

2 Bowie sees Roxy Music at the Academy of Music and attends an aftershow party at an East Village apartment.

 

 The Year Of The Diamond Dogs Tour

   

This tour was originally planned to appear in a city for 5 or so nights and then move on to another city. The set cost $200,000, props $75,000.

Bowie wore this Yves Saint Laurent suit as the Halloween Jack during the June and July dates of the tour.

8-10 Rehearsals at Port Chester Capitol Theatre for the elaborately staged Diamond Dogs US tour, before the 600-mile journey to Montreal.

12 Three trailer trucks bulging full of gear leave Capitol Theatre headed for Montreal. “The technical problems were never resolved before we left Port Chester,” recalled stage manager Nick Russyian. “[David] could have gotten electrocuted or killed.”

13 Bowie, Coco, Stuey George and driver Jim James leave the MainMan suite at the Sherry Netherland Hotel to begin the nine hour trip by limousine to Montreal.

"Diamond David" article published in Rock magazine.

14 Montreal Forum, Canada

After 36 hours the Hunger City stage preparation is complete. But the bridge crashes to the ground with Bowie on it. The sound system is overloaded and distorted. The sound company is replaced and Porsche brakes are installed in the bridge. With this, Bowie remarks “A Porsche brake? Isn’t that how James Dean died?”

15 Ottawa Civic Center, Canada

16 Toronto, O'Keefe Auditorium, Canada (2 shows).

The technical problems resolved but Bowie is suffering from laryngitis. Despite this he puts on a “perfect show” impressing a speciallly flown in junket of US and UK rock writers. Reported by Leee Black Childers for Hit Parader magazine.

17 Rochester, NY, War Memorial Auditorium

18-19 Cleveland, OH, Public Auditorium

20 Toledo, OH, Sports Arena

22 Detroit, MI, Cobo Arena

Show transferred at the last minute from the Ford Hall because the stage was too big. Reported by Leee Black Childers for Hit Parader magazine.

23 Detroit, MI, Cobo Arena (cancelled)

24 Dayton, OH, Hara Arena

25 Cincinnati, OH, Gardens (cancelled)

26-27 Pittsburgh, PA, Syria Mosque

28 Charleston, WV, Civic Center

29 Nashville, TN, Municipal Auditorium

30 Memphis, TN, Mid-South Coliseum

 

JULY

UK promoters turn down the chance to stage the Diamond Dogs tour at the Empire Pool, Wembley, because of the amount of money asked for by MainMan. Tickets would have had to have been about £7.00, unacceptable then as a reasonable price.

"Time is waiting in the wings… "

1 Atlanta, GA, Fox Theatre

During the journey from Atlanta to Tampa, a driver was stung by a bee and the truck containing most of the set thus ended up in a ditch with a nest of rattlesnakes. The show at Tampa went on, however, without props. After receiving a twenty-minute ovation, Bowie returned for an encore.

2 Tampa, FL, Curtis Hixon Hall

3 Orlando, FL, Jai-Alai Fronton

5 Charlotte, NC, Park Center Coliseum

6 Greensboro, NC, Coliseum

7 Norfolk, VA, Scope Convention Center

8-13 Philadelphia Tower Theatre

When Bowie's backing band heard that the shows were to be recorded for an LP and that they would only be paid the standard show fee, Herbie Flowers led a rebellion against DeFries. 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 ($5,000 each).

Bowie relented and MainMan handed over the cheques (which some claim were never honoured). David Live was recorded without Tony Visconti and engineer Keith Harwood was left to do the job alone so the microphones were not placed according to Visconti's instructions.

As a result various instruments were not isolated properly thus making the tracks much more difficult to mix.

14 New Haven, CT, Memorial Coliseum

16 Boston, MA, Music Hall

17 Cape Cod, MA, Memorial Coliseum (cancelled)

Madison Square Garden program

19-20 New York, NY, Madison Square Garden

The shows videotaped for MainMan by John Dove.

Bowie arrives at 6 o’clock for soundcheck, instead of just before the show, indicating how important he considered the show. At 7.30 Bowie’s hairdresser Jac Collelo (seen later on in Cracked Actor documentary) restyles Bowie’s hair shorter with a more blonde-burgundy colour. The costume for this show is the pale blue suit, white open collar shirt and light yellow socks.

At the aftershow party at the Plaza, Jagger, Bowie and Midler disappear for an hour into a walk in cupboard.

The end of tour party for the road crew was held at the Ice Palace Discotheque.

In late July mixing began of David Live with Tony Visconti and Eddie Kramer at Electric Lady Studios in Greenwich Village. The album's working title was Wham-Bam-Thank-You-Ma’m. Some of the backing vocals had to be rerecorded due to loss of microphone contact during the shows.

The whole post production process was done in haste as DeFries wanted to use the record to publicise the rest of the tour.

Becomes interested in video techniques and takes lessons from MainMan cameraman John Dove.

 

AUGUST

Drummer Tony Newman and bass guitarist Herbie Flowers leave the tour group (which Bowie retained for the second leg of the tour in September) replaced by Willie Weeks and Andy Newmark.

 Young Americans sessions

8-18 The first recording sessions for the Young Americans album.

Bowie had booked studio time at Philadelphia's Sigma Sound Studios. He liked the studios for their Gamble and Huff recording connections and was particularly excited by the sound he heard there during an Ava Cherry session.

Bowie holes up in The Barclay in Philadelphia for the duration of the Sigma sessions. Bowie works late into the night recording vocals after midnight, the way he'd heard that Sinatra liked to work.

22 The fans - known as the Sigma Kids - keeping their vigil outside the studio were invited into the studio at 5am to hear a playback of the album so Bowie could see their reactions to the music.

Bowie mingled and listened closely to their opinions of the songs then took to the floor to join in the dancing, ecstatic at the positive responses. » Philly Stopover: Fans and Funk, Rolling Stone

In eight days, eight tracks have been completed for the album (tentatively called Dancin’):

Young Americans
John I'm Only Dancing Again
(begun)
Right
Somebody Up There Likes Me
Who Can I Be Now
Come Back My Baby
aka 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 not released until the Sound + Vision (Ryko 1989) and the reissue of Young Americans (Ryko, 1991)

24 Boards the train for the three-day ride to Los Angeles for the seven already sold out LA Universal Amphitheatre shows.

30 Eric Stephen Jacobs shoots Bowie's portrait for the cover of Young Americans in Los Angeles

 

SEPTEMBER

 West Coast Tour

Drummer Willie Weeks and bassist Andy Newmark leave to fulfil recording commitments.

Philly Dogs band:

Mike Garson (piano, mellotron)

Carlos Alomar (guitar)

Earl Slick (lead guitar)

Doug Raunch (bass guitar)

Greg Enrico (drums)

Pablo Rosario (percussion)

David Sanborn (alto sax, flute)

Richard Grando (baritone sax flute)

Michael Kamen (electric piano, moog, oboe)

Geoff McCormack
Gui Andrisano
Ava Cherry
Robin Clark
Anthony Hinton
Diane Sumler

Luther Vandross
(backing vocals)

 

Stays at the Beverly Wilshire where $5000 worth of security fails to prevent groupies from finding ways to invade his suite. The band stays at the Sunset Marquee, which they nicknamed “The Plantation”. They called the Wilshire “The Castle”

Bowie is besieged by Hollywood showbiz types attempting him to engage him with film offers or others just wanting time with him, but none get near.

The first to get past security at the Wilshire is old friend and rival Marc Bolan with new girlfriend Gloria Jones. Bolan was in America attempting to revive his career after being dropped by Warner Brothers in the wake of unsuccessful Ziggyesque album Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow and its accompanying Bowie-like stage presentation.

Bowie counselled him to take the same direction Gloria was encouraging – R&B. Ironically Bolan was now taking instruction from Bowie after years of influencing him, through his transformations from Mod to hippy to glitter king.

2-8 Los Angeles, CA, Universal Amphitheatre

Interviewed by Robert Hilburn for Melody Maker

LA Universal Amphitheatre

"My set is amazing, it even smells like a street. There's a bar at the end where I can meet you and your friend".

A segment of Sweet Thing from the BBC documentary Cracked Actor filmed at the LA Amphitheatre show on the 5th.

11 San Diego, CA, Sports Arena

13 Tucson, AZ, Convention Center

14 Phoenix, AZ, Coliseum

16 Los Angeles, CA, Anaheim Convention Center

Bowie tells Tony Zanetta that he wants to ditch the elaborate set to put the emphasis of the show on the music, rather than the theatrics.

As a promoter had cancelled seven dates after exorbitant demands from Defries, there would be a seventeen day break between the Anaheim and St Paul.

Bowie decides to make this the time to change over to a new simpler set as well as to introduce new members to the tour band including Carlos Alomar and Ava Cherry.

 

Knock On Wood / Panic in Detroit (UK) and Rock 'n' Roll With Me / Panic in Detroit (US) live singles released (RCA).

Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor announce they wil appear together in a film, The Bluebird of Happiness. Terry O'Neill is there to take their portrait. >

In April 1975 Bowie told Cameron Crowe, "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.”

Later he told Anthony O’Gready: “That was a rotten film she wanted me to do. And a rotten part. She's finding out about it now. She's in Russia stuck out there. The thing she's in is called Bluebird, a very dry, high French fairytale with nothing to say. It is being directed by a wonderful director. But the whole film stinks and I turned it down."

Bowie with Elizabeth Taylor
 

OCTOBER

 The Philly Dogs Tour aka The Soul Tour

The Diamond Dogs show becomes The Philly Dogs Tour or The Soul Tour with the elaborate Hunger City set - retained only long enough for the Cracked Actor crew to document - scaled back to just the four main towers.

These too are disposed of after a few more shows. Freddie Burretti designed Bowie's new stagewear. New drummer Dennis Davis and bassist Emir Ksasan join the tour band.

5 St Paul, MN, Civic Center

8 Indianapolis, IN, Convention Center

11 Dane County, WI, Memorial Coliseum

13 Milwaukee, WI, Mecca Arena

15-20 Detroit, MI, Michigan Palace

22-23 Chicago, IL, Arie Crown Theatre

28-31 New York, NY, Radio City Music Hall

David Live press ad

29 David Live double LP released.

 

NOVEMBER

1-3 New York, NY, Radio City Music Hall

2 Records The Dick Cavett Show in New York

6 Cleveland, OH, Public Auditorium

After the show, Bowie stayed up all night in the hotel bar dancing and miming.

8 Buffalo, NY, War Memorial Auditorium

11 Washington DC, Capital Center

Includes a live video projection – an innovation first used in the Rolling Stones 1972 US Tour – directed by John Dove, who was documenting some of Bowie's rehearsals and shows.

14-16 Boston, MA, Music Hall

18 Philadelphia, PA, Spectrum Theatre

19 Pittsburgh, PA, Civic Arena

Radio City 
              Music Hall program

 

Young Americans sessions

20 Recording resumes at Sigma in Philadelphia, mainly overdubs and cleaning up tracks John I'm Only Dancing (Again), Can You Hear Me, Right and Young Americans. A studio version of Footstompin' is attempted but abandoned. Other tracks started but never completed.

24 Bruce Springsteen drops in on Sigma sessions. Reported the next day in Bowie meets Springsteen by Mike McGrath in The Drummer.

John I'm Only Dancing Again was completed but was dropped from the album and eventually released as a single in 1979.

A backing track was recorded for Bruce Springsteen's It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City but remained unfinished until the Station To Station sessions, and unreleased until it was included along on Sound + Vision box set (Ryko, 1989).

Bruce Springsteen drops in

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

25 Philadelphia, PA, Spectrum Theatre

Reported in Disc magazine

28 Memphis, TN, Mid-South Auditorium

30 Nashville, TN, Municipal Auditorium

 

DECEMBER

Mixing begins at Record Plant in New York. Visconti then takes the masters back to London to finish off, almost losing the reels at LA Airport in the process.

1 Atlanta, GA, The Omni

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

Young Americans promo clip

4 Television commercial is filmed for the Young Americans album, directed by John Dove.

The 30 second clip features Bowie miming to Young Americans with a voiceover: "David Bowie, happening now on his new album Young Americans on RCA Records and Tapes".

It finishes with a mocked up version of the album cover.

The Dick Cavett Show

4 Bowie's appearance on the The Dick Cavett Show is broadcast

23 Dinner with Mike Garson, Hotel Pierre, where Bowie tells him, "I want you to be my pianist for the next twenty years". A day or so later Garson visits Bowie to exchange Christmas presents. It’s the last he sees of him for many years. Ten years on, Garson recalled the passing parade of musicians in Bowie’s career: "The joke had been "When it's my time, David, just let me know.'"

 
 
 
 

1974  1975  1976  1977  1978  1979  1980 

DAVID LIVE  |  YOUNG AMERICANS  |  STATION TO STATION  |  LOW  |  HEROES  |  LODGER  |  SCARY MONSTERS

CRACKED ACTOR  |  THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH  |  JUST A GIGOLO  |  THE ELEPHANT MAN

ARTICLES  |  TV APPEARANCES