BOWIE GOLDEN YEARS

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

 THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD  •  HUNKY DORY  •  ZIGGY STARDUST
ALADDIN SANE  •  PIN UPS  •  DIAMOND DOGS  •  YOUNG AMERICANS
LOW  •  HEROES  •  LODGER  •  SCARY MONSTERS
THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH  •   THE ELEPHANT MAN
FEATURES
  •  PRESS ARCHIVE

BOWIEGOLDENYEARS is currently being expanded and redesigned
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January 1979

After Christmas in Kyoto with Joey, Bowie returned to London, to finish Lodger while Hemmings finished off his new edit of Just A Gigolo.

Bowie (1979): Fortunately David managed to get hold of all the bits and pieces and stole it in the night and came back to England and did his own cut in hiding and that’s the one that’s now going out in England. It makes sense – there’s a story there. It’s not just bits of incidents. And all these sort of send-ups of the whole German period are back in again.

Bowie spoke with Michael Watts for Melody Maker:

I’ve not made any plans for the next couple of years at all, apart from keeping on with my painting. I’m still painting pictures of my favourite area in Berlin, the Turkish area. I started to say yes to an exhibition, but then I backed off. I’m still completely frustrated and scared by the idea of exhibiting that publicly. But it’s certainly one of my more successful art forms over the last couple of years.” [Watts, Michael. Ethnic Bowie (Melody Maker, 13 January 1979)]

February 1979

Lodger album cover production
Designer/illustrator: Derek Boshier
Photographer: Brian Duffy
Makeup and effects: Anthony Clavet

Anthony Clavet (left) and assistant applying prosthetics to Bowie's face. Lengths of nylon string, pulled from different directions, contorted his face. Bowie had burnt his hand in the morning, his bandage adding to his figure's distressed state • Photo by Duffy

Derek Boshier (2003): I loved the resolution to the problem of David being photographed falling. Shooting him from above, on a specially made table built to match the falling form. The table was designed to be completely obscured by David’s body. The wash hand basin was laid underneath the table on the floor.

Monday February 12

Afternoon Plus (ITV)
Interviewed by Mavis Nicholson

Thames At Six (Thames)
Interviewed by Rita Carter

Tonight (BBC1)
Interviewed by Valerie Singleton

Singleton: There is this tremendous tendency to think of rock stars or pop stars as being a bit thick and obviously there's a lot more to you than that. Did it worry you that people had that kind of image?

Bowie: No, I'm very thick.

Singleton: Are you?

Bowie: Yes, I became a rock star!

Tuesday February 13

Dorchester Hotel, Mayfair, London
Interviewed by Jean Rook, The Daily Express

Jean Rook: I'm the only journalist who knows his hotel and even I don't know his room number. Our undercover meeting took place in a hired private suite, later cleared of any trace of us, down to the butts of the 60 cigarettes a day on which Mr Bowie is still hooked.

Today he looks 17. His undyed hair is pale brown and short back and sides. The unmade-up face is guileless and spotless. In grey flannel bags, grey shirt and tasteful tie, he looks like a public schoolboy. Or like Edward before he met Mrs Simpson. Has he really been reborn a brand-new Persil-washed man overnight?

“Not overnight – it's been a struggle,” said the one-time glittering, diamante, lipsticked superstar. “I hated the pop lifestyle but it's hard to kick the habits of a lifetime. I'm learning to be happy. To go to bed at night instead of 5am and get up in the morning instead of halfway through the day. I'm painting pictures nobody wants to buy, but I love it. I've grown my hair back to mouse. I'm even practising walking down the street.” [269][Rook, Jean. Bowie Reborn (Daily Express, 14 February 1979)]

Your Mother Wouldn't Like It
Capital Radio, Euston Tower
Interviewed by Nicky Horne

The cold, wet and windy conditions did not deter the horde of fans at the front door of Capital Radio’s studios. Bowie ran the gauntlet, losing his three bodyguards and five police escorts in the melee.

The two-hour program covered Just A Gigolo, the Stage film and the next album – and then opened the lines for listeners to phone in questions.

Nicky Horne: How much of a bait was [Marlene Dietrich] for you to appear in [Just A Gigolo] and how much did it work the other way around?

Bowie: Well, it made an enormous impression on me that Miss D had said that she would do the film if I would do it. And likewise I said if it’s a promise that she’s doing the film, I’ll do it and let’s sort of leave it at that.

Horne: You must have been terribly flattered that she even knew you.

Bowie: Oh my God, it was incredible! She said very nice things about me and in fact she was playing the side two of the Low album to all her friends, which I thought was just terrific.

When I was in Russia, when I took the Trans Siberian Express, I took a lot of footage there and I started putting those particular pieces – Subterraneans and Warszawa – against what I’d taken – just 8mm.

Caller: Do you think you’re going to live in London?

Bowie: There’s a stronger and stronger possibility because London is having the same kind of friction feel that I felt in other areas of the world. I’m feeling more and more disorientated every time I come to London so it’s becoming more attractive to me. [341][Your Mother Wouldn't Like It (Nicky Horne, Capital Radio, 13 February 1979)]

The interview was interspersed with songs that Bowie chose to discuss:

Shapes Of Things (The Yardbirds) / The Batman Theme (Link Wray) / Warning Sign (Talking Heads) / La Düsseldorf (La Düsseldorf) / White Light/White Heat (The Velvet Underground) / Baby’s On Fire (Brian Eno) / China Girl (Iggy Pop)

Broadcast live at 9pm

Wednesday February 14

Just A Gigolo press conference and photo call with Sydne Rome
Café Royal, Regent Street, London (midday)

 

Just A Gigolo premiere
Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square, London (evening)

Bowie in a blue kimono, baggy trousers and clogs his date Viv Lynn in Willie Brown, ignoring the Twenties-style (or black tie) dress code on the invitation.

Friday February 16

The Human League at Nashville Room, London

Sheffield's The Human League was one of several UK bands influenced by Bowie and Bowie’s own influences, such as Kraftwerk. He watched them play to a capacity crowd that included almost-famous Gary Numan. In a houndstooth jacket and cuffed jeans, he went back to meet the band and their manager before the show.

Phil Oakey (1980): Seems a very friendly bloke. Just not what everybody says about him. I thought he’d come in and be moody and hum selections from Low and try and depress you. [137][Hart, Heather. The Plain Person’s Guide To The Human League (The Face, August 1980)]

Before we went on, he asked us how long we were working for. “Huh? Oh, about four years, I suppose,” and he said, “No, how long are you on for?”… “Oh, 43 minutes and 23 seconds.” [210][Morley, Paul. A Career In Electronics Can Be Yours! Novices Welcome, All Letters Answered (NME, March 1979)]

Phil Oakey (1980): For me, his best work is with Iggy Pop. The two LPs he did with Iggy Pop are fantastic – landmarks, especially The Idiot. [137][Hart, Heather. The Plain Person’s Guide To The Human League (The Face, August 1980)]

Fittingly, the band ended their set with Nightclubbing. Bowie swapped phone numbers with them, saying he’d be in touch.

He told NME’s Adrian Thrills, “They were great. I was watching from behind the lighting desk so that I could see the audience as well as the group. It was like watching 1980!”

Adrian Wright (1999): He was very complimentary and very nice. When he saw our visuals he said something like, “Oh bugger, I was going to do something like that on my next tour.” [004][Buckley, David. Strange Fascination (Virgin, 2005)]

Wednesday February 21

Just A Gigolo

soundtrack album released
UK Jamco JAM 1
titled Schöner Gigolo, Armer Gigolo in Germany, Ariola 200462

Bowie contributed to one track:
David Bowie's Revolutionary Song (Bowie-Fishman) 4:41
performed by The Rebels with Bowie on guitar and vocal refrain

Produced by Tim Hauser and Jacques Morali
Arranged by John Altman and Frank Barber
Original soundtrack recording supervision by Jack Fishman

David Bowie's Revolutionary Song (Bowie-Fishman) 4:41

single released in Japan
Overseas Records MA-185-V

Tuesday February 27

Four songs from David Bowie On Stage shown on Old Grey Whistle Test.

 

March 1979

Lodger recording and mixing
Studio D, Record Plant, New York
Producers: David Bowie, Tony Visconti

Engineer Rod O'Brien, Tony Visconti, Bowie and Greg Caruso
Photo by Pati Giordano

Since the Lodger sessions in Montreux the previous September, Bowie had written lyrics. In the space of a week they recorded vocals, further overdubs and completed the mixing.

Visconti (2002): We went to New York to finish this album, and it suffered at the mixing stage because the studios simply were not as versatile or well-equipped as their European counterparts in those days! The heavy New York vibe added more darkness to this album. [423][tonyvisconti.com – Lodger (2002)]

During this period in New York Bowie socialised with David Byrne, frequenting clubs like Hurrah, an Upper West Side disco refashioned in May 1978 as a rock club and was the first club in New York to install a video system. Resident VJ Merrill Aldighieri played music videos on six 19-inch colour monitors suspended from the ceiling over the bar and near the banquettes at the back of the club.

The Mudd Club was opened in October 1978 by Steve Mass, art curator Diego Cortez and Anya Phillips. Mass was a colleague of Brian Eno, who lived in an apartment upstairs. Located downtown at 77 White Street TriBeCa, Mudd was designed as an underground alternative to Studio 54, but even more elitist. Entry was by exclusive laminated cards that were sent to those approved by Steve Mass.

Further reading: The Mudd Club by Richard Boch (the club's doorman)

Melody Maker's New York correspondent described B-52s as “just about the most rated young band in town.” Bowie was at Mudd with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein the night B-52s played. He danced behind the stage to their second set, and, looking around, said to Lisa Robinson, “I don’t want to tour again. It got really boring the last time. But this kind of club would be fun to do, wouldn’t it?” [Robinson, Lisa. Bowie (Spin, August 1990)]

Keith Strickland (2008): It was pretty amazing. I remember we had just finished our set at The Mudd Club, and someone came and told us, ‘David Bowie’s here.’ And Cindy screamed, ‘DAVID BOWIEEE!!!’ She had her back to the door and, as she screamed, he was walking in. She was like, ‘Oh no!’ But he was great. He just laughed. [211][Mulholland, Garry. The Interview: B-52’s (The Stool Pigeon, 5 March 2008)]

Friday March 9

Ramones party at Mudd Club, following their New York Palladium show
(L-R) Joey Ramone, co-manager Linda Stein, David Bowie, Dee Dee Ramone, Vera Ramone and co-manager Danny Fields (behind, right) Photo by Bob Gruen

Sire Records boss Seymour Stein (top middle) and Danny Fields (top right) holding court
Photo by Bobby Grossman

With Dee Dee Ramone Photo by Bobby Grossman

Thursday March 29

Roxy Music at New York Palladium

Photo by Ebet Roberts

 

Bowie socialises with Bryan Ferry after the show

Later that night Bowie was at Mudd Club, in a cage with Jackie Curtis

 

April 1979

Sunday April 1


WKCR-FM benefit at Carnegie Hall, New York
guest appearance

John Cale
David Bowie (viola)
Gregor Kitzis (1st violin)

A benefit concert for WKCR to showcase new American music, featuring Steve Reich and Philip Glass. John Cale was scheduled to perform with Nico, but she decided to stay home instead of performing. Bowie joined Cale onstage, wearing a black kimono and playing viola on Cale’s song Sabotage.

John Cale (2008): That was a lot of fun. That was when we were hanging out, so I asked David if he’d like to come and play Sabotage with me. I ended up teaching him the viola part, which he had a whack at and then ended up playing on the stage for the first time. [298][Uncut, June 2008. 30 Greatest David Bowie Songs’]

Bowie (1979): I had never played viola in my life before but I learned four notes on it and it sounded great. I may learn another four and play it on my next album. [310][Watts, Michael. Bowie’s Lodger: Where New Muzik Meets Errol Flynn (Melody Maker, 19 May 1979)]

Philip Glass (1996): I was very pleased to find people working in a contemporary way in the field of popular music but who were really interested in experimental music. And this is what made David interesting to me. [346][A Part Ca (Canal +, 1997)]

Saturday April 7

Siouxsie And The Banshees / The Human League at Rainbow Theatre, London

Sunday April 8

Recording at Good Earth Studios, 59 Dean Street, Soho, London
Boys Keep Swinging backing track for Kenny Everett Video Show

Tony Visconti (bass)
Sean Mayes (keyboards)
Simon House (violin)
Andy Duncan (drums)
Ricky Hitchcock (guitar)
Brian Robertson (guitar)

Monday April 9

The Kenny Everett Video Show taping
Director: David Mallet
Broadcast April 23 (ITV)

Boys Keep Swinging

Bowie sang live to the backing track recorded the previous day. Having recently taken up the viola, he used one to mime the guitar solo.

Angry of Mayfair: “You know, I was in the war – but I didn’t see you there. I fought for people like you – and I never got one!"

Lou Reed at Hammersmith Odeon, London

In the evening, Bowie watched Reed's concert from the wings, sitting on a flight case. Reed finished his set and greeted him with open arms. They headed off to the Chelsea Rendezvous in Sydney Street to have dinner.

Writers Allan Jones (Melody Maker) and Giovanni Dadomo (Sounds) turned up and after some friendly conversation, they left Bowie, Reed and their companions to their Irish Whiskeys. From their table they watched them laughing and talking about old times and toasting “to friends”.

Then Reed asked Bowie to produce his next album. Bowie replied, “Yes, if you clean up your act.” Reed turned on Bowie, slapping him twice and shouting “Don't you EVER say that to me!” After a few minutes Reed again exploded with rage. “I told you NEVER to say that!” he yelled as minders struggled to restrain him and eventually escort him blank-faced from the restaurant. [165][Jones, Allan. Fight Of The Week: Lou Bops Bowie (Melody Maker, 21 April 1979)]

Allan Jones asked Bowie what had upset Reed. Bowie stormed out, trashing the pot plants as he went. The next day he sent £60 to the restaurant for the demolished plants; Reed flew off to Dublin, cancelling all engagements and offering no explanation to anyone.

Sunday April 15

An Hour With David Bowie radio interview broadcast in US (KLOS-FM)

Wednesday April 18

Bowie The Traveller / Conversations With Bowie radio show
Good Earth Studios, 59 Dean Street, Soho, London
Broadcast May 14 (Capital Radio)

Tony McGrogan, RCA: David suggested a contest for Capital Radio. The listeners were asked to write about Bowie the Traveller and the 12 best would join David in Tony Visconti’s studio for an advance listen to the Lodger album.

They began with an hour of Bowie answering general questions, followed by a playback of Lodger with Bowie’s track by track commentary.

Monday April 23

The Kenny Everett Video Show featuring Boys Keep Swinging broadcast (ITV)

Friday April 27

Boys Keep Swinging 3:17 / Fantastic Voyage 2:55

single released in UK
RCA BOW2 • Chart peak 7

Runout etched messages:
Your Bicameral Mind / Mind Your Bicameral

Spanish promo picture disc
RCA PL-13254

 

May 1979

Saturday May 5

Boys Keep Swinging enters the UK chart, stays 10 weeks, peaks at #7.

Saturday May 12

Star Special (Radio One) radio appearance
Broadcast Sunday May 20

Bowie was on the two-hour show to play DJ again, talking about some of his favourite records.

“Hello, this is David Bowie. It’s a bit grey out today and I’ve got some Perrier water and I’ve got a bunch of records. I think if I was walking outside at the moment, I would like to be walking on this street…”

Love Street (The Doors) / TV Eye (Iggy Pop) / Remember (John Lennon) / 96 Tears (? and The Mysterians) / A Wagon – The Nursery Suite (Edward Elgar) / Inchworm (Danny Kaye) / Trial Prison (Phillip Glass) / Sweet Jane (The Velvet Underground) / Helen Fordsdale (Mars) / He's A Star (Little Richard) / 21st-Century Schizoid Man (King Crimson) / Warning Sign (Talking Heads) / Beck's Bolero (Jeff Beck) / Try Some, Buy Some (Ronnie Spector) / 20th Century Boy (Marc Bolan) / Where Were You (The Mekons) / Big City Cat (Steve Forbert) / We Love You (The Rolling Stones) / 2 HB (Roxy Music) / It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City (Bruce Springsteen) / Fingertips (Stevie Wonder) / Rip Her To Shreds (Blondie) / Beautiful Loser (Bob Seger) / Boys Keep Swinging / Yassassin / The Books I Read (Talking Heads) / For Your Pleasure (Roxy Music) / Something On Your Mind (King Curtis) / Lies (The Staple Singers)

Hear it on Spotify: David Bowie's 1979 BBC DJ Set

Friday May 18


Lodger

album released in UK

RCA BOW LP1 Chart peak UK 4 US 20

Side one
Fantastic Voyage (Bowie-Eno) 2:55
African Night Flight (Bowie-Eno) 2:54
Move On 3:16
Yassassin 4:10
Red Sails (Bowie-Eno) 3:43

Side two
DJ (Bowie-Eno-Alomar) 3:59
Look Back In Anger (Bowie-Eno) 3:08
Boys Keep Swinging (Bowie-Eno) 3:17
Repetition 2:59
Red Money (Bowie-Alomar) 4:17

David Bowie (vocals, piano, synthesiser, Chamberlin, guitar)
Adrian Belew (guitar, mandolin, rhythm guitar)
Carlos Alomar (guitar, rhythm guitar, drums, vocals)
Brian Eno (ambient drone, prepared piano, cricket menace, synthesisers, guitar treatments, horse trumpets, eroica horns, piano)
George Murray (bass, vocals)
Dennis Davis (drums, percussion, bass, vocals)
Sean Mayes (piano)
Roger Powell (synthesisers)
Simon House (violin, mandolins)
Tony Visconti (bass, mandolins, rhythm guitar, vocals)
Stan (saxophone)

Produced by David Bowie and Tony Visconti

Bowie (1979): Lodger is really a hodgepodge of styles that create a lovely sort of mix. The areas we’ve been working in are so undefined at the moment that I find them hard to analyse, but I think probably a classification you can give the album is that it incorporates just about every style that I’ve ever got involved in, apart from rock. There are three or four narrative songs, though, which is something I haven’t done in a long time, and two or three of what you might call Dada pop as opposed to rock. Now whether that’s the kind of pop that people expect, I don’t know. But it’s definitely Bowie pop. [311][Watts, Michael. David Bowie Introduces Lodger To An Awestruck World (RAM, 15 June 1979)]

Lodger video shoots
Ewart Studios, Wandsworth and Earl's Court Road, London
Director: David Mallet
Set designer: Michael Minas

Bowie was so impressed with Mallet's Boys Keep Swinging segment on Everett’s show, he asked him to direct the promo video for the three singles to be released. The three videos were shot over a single weekend.

Boys Keep Swinging


Look Back In Anger

DJ

Released on The Video Collection (PMI 1993) and Best Of Bowie (EMI 2002)

Journalists were invited to RCA in London for a preview of Lodger, the David Bowie On Stage film and the new promotional videos.

Allan Jones, Melody Maker: The playback of the record was virtually drowned out by a chorus of inebriated bickering, gossip and giggling. The tottering pen-pushers were only silenced when we were treated to a series of videos of the Thin White One. The first tapes, projected onto a massive screen in the far corner of RCA’s plush fifth-floor banqueting suite, were from the Stage tour in Dallas. More striking were the recently completed promo flicks for the new album, certainly the most impressive video sales pitch since the original Devo epics.

“See those girls?” asked the chap from RCA. “Absolute goddess, the one in the middle,” we replied, pointing out the Lauren Bacall-meets-Jerry Hall lookalike. “They’re all Bowie,” explained the chap from RCA. Mouths dropped open. [167][Jones, Allan. Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder? (Melody Maker, 26 May 1979)]

Jon Savage, Melody Maker: So Bowie returns to RCA, rewarded by a personalized catalogue number, with what he likes to see as the final part of the Low / Heroes trilogy. The new album appears as a piece of self-plagiarism unmatched since The Seeds: his last eight or so albums are cut up, played backwards and then reassembled. It's a credit to his craft that the end result is still fresh. [277][Savage, Jon. Avant-AOR (Melody Maker, 26 May 1979)]

Thursday May 24

Studio 54, New York • Photo by © Adam Scull | New York Post Archives

 

June 1979

Saturday June 2

Boys Keep Swinging peaks at number 7 in UK

Friday June 8

Save the Children Charity Auction

Sotheby's held an auction of ‘Lipograms’ contributed by celebrities including Bette Davis, Jack Nicholson, Audrey Hepburn, Peter Ustinov and others. The idea came from a card that Bowie had sent to Charles of the Ritz to thank him for a gift of make-up.

Bowie’s lip-print: “The lips part like silence set for alarm - Bo. '79.”

Friday June 29

DJ 3:20 / Repetition 2:58
single released in UK
RCA BOW3 • Chart peak 29

DJ 3:20 / Fantastic Voyage 2:53
single released in US
RCA PB-11661 • Chart peak 106

 

July 1979

Yassassin 3:06 Repetition 2:58
single released in Holland
RCA PB-9417

Yassassin 4:13 Red Money 2:58
single released in Turkey
RCA 79.014

Thursday July 5

Interviewed by Dave Herman on WNEW-FM radio show, New York

 

August 1979

Monday August 20

Look Back In Anger 3:08 Repetition 2:58
single released in US
RCA PB-11724

Friday August 31

DA Pennebaker showed his 1973 Ziggy Stardust film – then titled Bowie – at the Edinburgh Film Festival. Festival director Lynda Myles had cabled Bowie in Berlin to invite him but there was no response.

DA Pennebaker (2003): I made a 35mm Dolby print which I had to make by hand in my own studio and I got a mag-striped print and I put the tracks on and I took it to Edinburgh to show it and I thought, “This will just be a little film festival showing”. Instead this whole goddamn audience showed up. Everybody that was at the concert was in Edinburgh. You couldn’t get in the theatre, and of course they went crazy in the film. It was one of the best screenings I’ve ever had of any film. And part of it even got out of sync because they didn’t know how to handle Dolby very well in the theatre. But nobody seemed to mind. [373][Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars - Visconti and Pennebaker commentary (EMI, 2003)]

At that stage the film included Jeff Beck's two appearances – Round And Round and Love Me Do - The Jean Genie. They were edited out for the December 1983 cinema release.

 

September 1979

 

Recording session (guest appearance) with Iggy Pop
Rockfield Studios, Monmouth, Wales
Iggy Pop album Soldier

Play It Safe

Bowie dropped in for a couple of days to give Iggy some moral support. Simple Minds were recording Real To Real Cacophony in the studio next door and wanted Bowie to play sax on their album. Bowie asked if they could sing, gave them lyric sheets, and they ended up singing backing vocals with him on Play It Safe. The song began life as an outrageous story Bowie recounted concerning bodyguard John Bindon, which Iggy turned into verse to Bowie’s music.

Recording sessions
Good Earth Studios, 59 Dean Street, Soho, London

David Bowie (vocals, 12-string guitar)
Zaine Griff (bass)
Hans Zimmer (piano)
Andy Duncan (drums)

Space Oddity [new version]
Panic In Detroit [new version]
Rebel Rebel [new version]

Tony Visconti (2000): The acoustic version of Space Oddity was recorded for the Kenny Everett Show and was never meant to be a single. [383][bowiewonderworld.com – Ground Control To Major Tom (Paul Kinder, 11 July 2001)]

Bowie (1980): That came about because Mallet wanted me to do something for his show and he wanted Space Oddity. I agreed as long as I could do it again without all its trappings and do it strictly with three instruments. Having played it with just an acoustic guitar onstage early on, I was always surprised as how powerful it was just as a song, without all the strings and synthesisers. In fact the video side of it was secondary; I really wanted to do it as a three-piece song. [189][MacKinnon, Angus. The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be (NME, 13 September 1980]

With this in mind Bowie asked Tony Visconti to put together a band to re-record some of his songs. At the time Visconti was producing an album by New Zealand-born Zaine Griff (Glenn Mikkelsson).

Space Oddity released:
Alabama Song single B-side; Scary Monsters (Rykodisc/EMI CD 1992)
Panic In Detroit released:
Scary Monsters (Rykodisc/EMI CD 1992); Heathen bonus CD (2002)
Rebel Rebel unreleased

Tuesday September 18

The Will Kenny Everett Ever Make It To 1980? Show (ITV)
AKA The Kenny Everett New Year’s Eve Show
Ewart Studios, Wandsworth
Director: David Mallet
Broadcast 11pm, December 31

Space Oddity [new version]


Thursday September 27

Talking Heads at the Greek Theatre, Los Angeles

 

October 1979

Bad Boys in Berlin by Chris Hodenfield published in Rolling Stone

Friday October 5

Recording session with John Cale
Ciarbis Studios, New York

David Bowie (vocals)
John Cale (piano)

Piano-La Velvet Couch

Cale (2008): When we did that bootleg, it was like the good old bad old days. We were partying very hard. It was exciting working with him, as there were a lot of possibilities and everything, but we were our own worst enemies at that point. He could improvise songs very well, which was what that bootleg was all about. [298][Uncut, June 2008. 30 Greatest David Bowie Songs’]

Unoffficially released as Two Gentlemen In New York

Thursday October 25

The first US screening of the uncut version of The Man Who Fell To Earth at a nine-film Nicolas Roeg retrospective at Carnegie Hall cinema in New York. The censored version originally released in US was 20 minutes shorter than the UK version.

 

Bowie's letter of thanks to Natascha Smolianoff,
president of the French David Bowie Fanclub

 

November 1979

Saturday November 24

Melody Maker publishes a number of pieces concerning the coming decade from various writers and musicians. Bowie’s contribution:

All clear 1980
Personal – eyes only
Tragedy converted into comedy
Indifference
Complete lack of task
To be 67 by 1990
To win a revolution by ignoring everything else out of existence
To own personal copy of Eraserhead

 

December 1979

1980 All Clear

promotional album released in US
RCA DJL1-3545

Side one
The Man Who Sold The World 3:58
Space Oddity 5:15
Ziggy Stardust 3:13
Panic In Detroit 4:25
Always Crashing In The Same Car 3:26

Side two
1984 3:24
Golden Years 4:03
Fascination 5:43
"Heroes" 6:07
Boys Keep Swinging 3:17

 

The Sensational, Shocking, Wild and Wacky Seventies
television appearance (NBC)

Space Oddity (1969 version)

Photo by Steve Schapiro

Saturday December 1

Countdown End Of The Decade
television appearance (ABC Australia)

Interviewer: Ian Meldrum
Location: Kew Gardens, London (Bowie's idea)

Ian Meldrum: Getting in there is like trying to get an exclusive with the Queen on the lawns of Buckingham Palace. We managed it though, after telling the attendants that we were filming a special on beautiful English gardens. David posed as an expert on plants as we paid our penny to get in the gate. [Cann, Kevin. David Bowie: A Chronology (Vermilion, 1983)]

Broadcast December 16 1979

The Will Kenny Everett Make It To 1980? Show video shoot

Director: David Mallet
Location: Brixton

Panic In Detroit [new version]

Bowie spent a day with Mallet and a Thames TV crew shooting the clip for Kenny Everett's New Year's Eve show. The clip was left incomplete and never broadcast.

Friday December 7

John I'm Only Dancing (Again) 1975 6:59 / John I'm Only Dancing 1972 2:46
12-inch single released in UK
RCA BOW12 4
Runout etched messages: “At last…”/ “Shape of things…”

John I'm Only Dancing (Again) 1975 3:25 / John I'm Only Dancing 1972 2:47
7-inch single released in UK RCA BOW 4)
Chart peak 12 (8 weeks in chart)

Both issued in limited edition of 50,000 picture sleeves

John I'm Only Dancing (Again) 1975 6:59 / Golden Years 4:03
12-inch single released in US RCA PD-11886

John I’m Only Dancing 1972 2:43 / Joe The Lion 3:05
7-inch single released in US (RCA PD-11887) and Australia (103520)

John I'm Only Dancing (Again) 12-inch version reissued:
Changes Two Bowie (RCA 1981)
Young Americans (Rykodisc/EMI 1991)
The Best Of David Bowie 1974/1979 (EMI 1997)
Young Americans CD/DVD (EMI 2007)

7-inch version reissued:
Rare
(RCA 1982)

John I’m Only Dancing 1972 alternate mix reissued:
Ziggy Stardust (Rykodisc/EMI 1990)

Bowie (1980): They’re sort of out of the vault; it’s an 'old new' record. It came out first in the early Seventies with one particular mix and I dug it up again a few weeks ago and it was another mix. And it was a very loud, straight off the faders kind of mix and I thought that would be nice to put it out.

And then RCA found this disco version that I’d shelved, that I’d done at the time of Young Americans and so they decided to put the two out at the same time. The disco one I think is particularly interesting, outrageously funny, looking back at it now. It's an outtake–we thought it was too dancey! [333][David Bowie: A Look At The Seventies (King Biscuit Flower Hour, KMET-FM, January 1980)]

Sunday December 9

New York

Bowie watched Iggy Pop’s set at Hurrah, the last stop on the New Values tour.

Another night Bowie was at Mudd with Blondie’s Jimmy Destri when they spotted German singer/performer Klaus Nomi and Warhol scenester/Fiorucci store attendant Joey Arias.

Bowie called them over to his table and introduced himself. They exchanged phone numbers, and met at Bowie’s Chelsea loft days later to discuss ideas for an end of the decade New Year’s Eve concert, to be choreographed by Toni Basil. When that proved unfeasible they adapted the ideas for Bowie’s appearance on Saturday Night Live.

Bowie devised three set pieces based on Tristan Tzara’s Cabaret Voltaire skits and John Heartfield’s photomontages with help from SNL set designer Mark Ravitz, who had worked on the Diamond Dogs set in 1974. Bowie’s costume, a solid moulded plastic body painted in Thirties evening dress with a large bow tie, was made by SNL’s theatrical suppliers Brooks Van Horn.

A few days later in a RCA rehearsal studio, Nomi and Arias watched Bowie rehearse the songs with the band – Carlos Alomar, George Murray and Dennis Davis plus Blondie's Jimmy Destri on keyboards SNL guitarist George Wadenius.

Saturday December 15

Saturday Night Live taping
NBC Studios, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York

Producer: Lorne Michaels
Director: Dave Wilson
Presenter: Martin Sheen

Photo by Robin Platzer

The Man Who Sold The World Boys Keep Swinging TVC 15

Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias carry Bowie – encased in his solid body costume – to the front of the stage for The Man Who Sold The World

Bowie in a blue Natasha Kornilof dress for TVC 15

For Boys Keep Swinging Bowie wore a green costume and attached a small puppet's torso and limbs. With the aid of chroma key and green screen, Bowie became a marionette with a huge human head

Photos by Alan Singer

After the show Bowie and the cast partied at One Fifth Avenue in Greenwich Village.

Page Wood, Nomi art director (2004): I said, “So, what are your plans? Are you going to be in New York, are you staying here?” and he said, “Yeah I've got a loft, I'm going to be around for a while, I have a couple of things I have to tie up, and then I'm free”. And I said, “Well, we've got some ideas”. And he goes, “Well great, you'll be hearing from me.” And Iggy Pop, who was smoking a big cigar, gave us the thumbs-up and we thought, “Great, we're in!” But we never really heard from him again. [366][The Nomi Song (Palm Pictures, 2005)]

Sunday December 16

Good Afternoon (WXRK-FM) radio
Interviewed by Flo and Eddie

Bowie went to see The Elephant Man at the Booth Theatre with friend and Hurrah co-owner Robert Boykin, who introduced him to director Jack Hofsiss afterwards.

Countdown End Of The Decade Special broadcast in Australia (ABC)

Tuesday December 25

Christmas in New York with Joey.

Monday December 31

New Year’s Eve at Stones manager Peter Rudge’s apartment on Central Park with Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall.

The Will Kenny Everett Make It To 1980? Show broadcast in UK, featuring David Mallet’s video of Bowie's new version of Space Oddity.

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

 

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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 November 27, 2020