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

JANUARY

Mainman logo

Bowie sent Tony DeFries a telegram from New York informing him that his and MainMan's services would no longer be required and legal action had begun to free Bowie of existing contracts.

15 Bowie entered Electric Lady studios with producer Harry Maslin to record a cover of Across the Universe with John Lennon.

After the session, Carlos Alomar worked up Footstompin' into a jam which became Fame.

Bowie decided to to include the two new tracks on the album, replacing Who Can I Be Now and It's Gonna Be Me. These tracks were eventually released as bonus tracks on the Young Americans reissue (Ryko 1991).

Producer Tony Visconti was in London mixing the album and unaware of the change.

Bowie worked on a Diamond Dogs video project in his house in New York.

Young Americans single press ad

17 Young Americans / Knock on Wood single released in the US (RCA PB-10152).

 

"Johnny Ray's Better Whirlpool" by Lester Bangs published in Creem magazine.

Bowie and Ava Cherry went with Mick and Bianca Jagger to Madison Square Gardens to see Led Zeppelin. Bowie showed particular interest in their laser show lighting techniques.

Later in the week, Bowie and Ava Cherry visited Zeppelin at the Plaza Hotel as Bowie knew Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones from the Sixties. (Page had played guitar on I Pity The Fool,Bowie's 1965 single with Manish Boys)

He was also seen at Trude Heller's club with Cherry Vanilla watching Lance Loud's band, and Manhattan Transfer at the Cafe Carlyle with Mick Jagger. The maitre d' asked them to leave after they reportedly misbehaved over the bill.

 

26 Cracked Actor, an Omnibus documentary about Bowie, broadcast (BBC 1). Alan Yentob's film traced Bowie's career up to and including the 1974 US tour. UK viewers had their only glimpse of the Diamond Dogs show and the Soul Tour that followed as it never came to UK or Europe.

Yentob interviewed Bowie backstage, in hotel rooms and in his limo. English film director Nic Roeg's casting agent Maggie Abbott saw the documentary and suggested using Bowie in his forthcoming film, The Man Who Fell to Earth.

Roeg also cast Bowie's MainMan limo and driver (Tony Mascia) and replicated the Cracked Actor in-car footage situation for the film.

FEBRUARY

Bowie agreed to meet with Roeg about the film but forgot their appointment. He arrived home eight hours later to find Roeg patiently sitting in the kitchen. They briefly discussed The Man Who Fell To Earth, before Bowie announced he would play the role.

Officially announcement of legal action between Bowie and DeFries. A lawsuit announced by Bowie's solicitors declares a motion to end all agreements between Bowie and MainMan, including publishing, management and recording controls.

21 Young Americans / Suffragette City single released in UK (RCA 2523). Charts at #18.

Interview with Bruno Stein published in Creem, showing the extent of Bowie's cocaine-fuelled fantasies, harping on conspiracies and seeing UFOs every five minutes.

A clip of Bowie singing Young Americans on the Dick Cavett Show was broadcast in UK on Top Of The Pops. Record Mirror wrote: "His physical deterioration was sad to behold. His corpse-like appearance only made more grotesque by a severe Fifties-style haircut and ill-fitting suit. His voice too was in appalling shape and it was almost pitiful to watch him
aiming hoarsely at notes he could once reach with ease."

 

MARCH

1 Bowie appeared on the Grammy Awards ceremony. After a long introduction he presented the award for "Best R&B Performance by a Female Artist" to Aretha Franklin, who exclaimed "I'm so excited I could even kiss David Bowie!"

click to enlarge

7 Young Americans LP released on RCA

UK (RCA RS 1006) Chart peak #2

USA (APL1-0998) Chart peak #9

24 Bowie and Ava Cherry sidestage with Geoff MacCormack (not pictured) at Madison Square Garden, watching the Rod Stewart and Faces concert. Rod invited Bowie to share a glass of Blue Nun backstage.

 

APRIL – MAY

Young Americans promo clip

Soon after Bowie relocated to Los Angeles he made a 30-second television commercial for the Young Americans album, directed by Chuck Braverman in Los Angeles.

Bowie mimed to a playback of 'Young Americans' while a voiceover announced: "David Bowie, happening now on his new album Young Americans on RCA Records and Tapes". finishing with a mocked up album cover. (Photograph by Ellen Graham)

In an episode covered by Cameron Crowe in an extensive feature article for Rolling Stone, Bowie and Iggy Pop attempted some recording at Oz Studios in Hollywood. The session with Iggy produced an adlibbed Drink To Me and an early version of Turn Blue, which was eventually recorded in Berlin for Lust For Life. After the session Bowie wrote a new song, Moving On which was never heard of again.

Bowie was staying at the home of Glenn Hughes - an old friend of Bowie - who at that time was on tour with Deep Purple.

Later he moved into his new manager Michael Lippman's home in central Hollywood where he was interviewed by Tina Brown for The Sunday Times Magazine and again by Cameron Crowe.

Often seen driving around LA in a VW borrowed from Lippman's wife.

Iggy Pop failed to show up at further booked studio sessions, was caught for drugs possession and given a choice between jail and rehab. Iggy chose the latter was admitted to the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute.

Bowie, accompanied by actor Dean Stockwell, visited Iggy who later revealed that Bowie was the only person to do so. Bowie attempted to coax Iggy out of the Institute to return to recording. The idea was aborted when Iggy disappeared again.

It was announced that Bowie would star in Nicolas Roeg's film The Man Who Fell to Earth- an adaptation of the 1963 Walter Tevis novel.

Bowie’s relationship with Ava Cherry wound down as he prepared to leave LA to start filming. Bowie and Geoff MacCormack took the Santa Fe Super Chief train to the Albuquerque, New Mexico location.

JUNE

JULY

AUGUST

 The Man Who Fell To Earth

20 "The Bowie Odyssey" published in Sunday Times Magazine.

15 Fame / Right single released – Bowie's first US #1.

RCA 2579 (UK)
PB-10320 (US)

After The Man Who Fell To Earth wrapped at the end of the month, Bowie returned to Los Angeles, renting a house at 1349 Stone Canyon Road in Bel Air.

photo by Geoff MacCormack

Photographed on set by Geoff MacCormack

Production on the film scheduled to last eleven weeks through to August. Initially, Bowie and friends stayed at the Hilton Inn in Albuquerque.

Between scenes Bowie wrote new songs and stories, including his autobiography, The Return of the Thin White Duke, part of which was published in Rolling Stone February 1976.

Interviewed for a Creem magazine feature, "Spaced Out In The Desert".

 

SEPTEMBER

8 Bowie attended Peter Sellers's 50th birthday party in Los Angeles. Bowie ran through a few blues numbers with an impromptu group called Trading Faces comprising: Bowie on saxophone, Bill Wyman (bass), Ron Wood (guitar), Joe Cocker (vocals), Jesse Ed Davis (guitar), Danny Kortchmar (guitar), Bobby Keyes (saxophone) Nigel Olsson (drums), Keith Moon (organ, vocal, drums) and Steve Madaio (trumpet). Photographs by Terry O'Neill.

20 Fame reached #1 on the US charts.

Rumours circulated in the press suggesting that Bowie was intending to star in a biopic of Frank Sinatra. Bowie later denied these when interviewed on tour in 1976.

       

Station To Station recording sessions at Cherokee Studios on 751 North Fairfax Avenue, West Hollywood, which continued through October/ November.

26 Space Oddity / Changes, Velvet Goldmine single released in UK (RCA 2593) and Europe.

This third release of Space Oddity gave Bowie his first UK #1.

 

NOVEMBER

Soul Train

4 Appearance on Soul Train, miming Fame, Golden Years and fielding questions from the presenter and audience before his performance.

» more

17 Golden Years / Can You Hear Me single released.

RCA 2640 [UK]
PB-10441 [US]

Highest chart pos #8

23 Appearance on Cher (CBS TV, US) singing Fame, a duet with Cher on Can You Hear Me and a medley beginning and ending with Young Americans.

» more

28 Appearance on Russell Harty (ITV, UK). Via satellite from Burbank, Bowie announced the 1976 UK tour. Harty showed Golden Years and excerpts from The Man Who Fell To Earth. » more

 

DECEMBER

Bowie leaves Cherokee Studios

Photo: Brad Alterman

The Man Who Fell To Earth soundtrack sessions

After Station To Station sessions are completed, Bowie began work on the soundtrack with Harry Maslin producing at Cherokee Studios, Los Angeles. Paul Buckmaster was brought in on cello to accompany Bowie's guitar, synthesisers and drum machines.

The sessions produced five or six working tracks (influenced by Bowie's current favourite, Kraftwerk's Autobahn) before the project was abandoned. According to Maslin, Bowie was burned out to the point of collapse and could not focus sufficiently.

The soundtrack was never released but a reversed bass part from one of the pieces was used in Subterraneans (from Low). Bowie maintains it is the only vestige of the work remaining.

In the film Thomas Jerome Newton composes and releases a record called The Visitor in the hope that it will be broadcast on the radio and perhaps be picked up by his wife on his home planet, Anthea.

The rumoured existence of an early bootleg purporting to be Bowie's soundtrack music called appropriately The Visitor stemmed from its inclusion in Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray's book, Bowie An Illustrated Record. They later admitted it was a hoax.

Bowie had originally been invited by the studio to submit soundtrack music but as post-production on the film neared completion, Bowie's score failed to materialise and Roeg gave the job to John Phillips.

Bowie's ideas eventually materialised on side two of Low, a copy of which he sent to Roeg with a note explaining that this was what he had in mind for the film.

Bowie's manager, Michael Lippman, had pledged to Bowie that he would have the rights to score the film, and by some reports, it was another reason Bowie signed on to the film. His disappointment with the whole affair was one of the reasons for their subsequent fallout.

   

Bowie's house at 637 North Doheny Drive (Photo by Spencer Kansa)

Spaced Out in the Desert, a report on the production of The Man Who Fell To Earth by Steve Shroyer and John Lifflander published in Creem.

European tour details released for Bowie's 1976 tour.

Bowie travelled with Angie and Zowie by train to Florida then to Jamaica. Bowie, finding that manager Michael Lippman had been made no accommodation arrangements there, fired him by telephoned.

Christmas was spent at Keith Richards' Jamaican home, before rehearsals began with the new band for his return to world touring.

Guitarist Earl Slick – also managed by Lippman – was dropped from the tour after a series of misunderstandings. An immediate replacement was found in Stacey Heydon, a previously unknown Canadian bar room guitarist.


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