Category: david bowie

On this day in music history: October 14, 1977 – “Heroes”, the thirteenth album by David Bowie is released. Produced by David Bowie and Tony Visconti, it is recorded at Hansa Studios by the Wall in West Berlin, East Germany from July – August 1977. The second release in David Bowie’s “Berlin Trilogy” (issued just nine months after “Low”), Bowie once again collaborates on several songs with Brian Eno. The pair come up with rough sketches of songs without melodies and lyrics, which are composed during the actual sessions. Bowie is heavily influenced by the atmosphere of Berlin while living in the city. This is reflected on several songs, particularly the albums epic title track, which tells the story of two lovers who meet at the Berlin Wall. Part of the lyrics to “Heroes” are inspired when Bowie asks producer Tony Visconti to leave him alone in the studio control room to write. While staring out the window of the studio, David sees Visconti embrace and kiss backing vocalist Antonia Maass (Visconti who was married to singer Mary Hopkin at the time, but having an affair with Maass) outside by the wall. King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp travels to Berlin from the US to play on the album, recording all of his lead guitar parts in one day. Bowie is also backed by his regular group of musicians including Carlos Alomar (guitar), Dennis Davis (drums) and George Murray (bass).  It is the only album of the “Trilogy” to be entirely recorded in the city of Berlin, with the studio located only 500 yards from the Berlin Wall. The album is mixed at Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland after the tracking sessions conclude. Upon its release and in the years following, it is regarded as one of the best albums of David Bowie’s career. Bowie’s 2013 album “The Next Day”, features an obscured version of photographer Masayoshi Sukita’s iconic cover photo from “Heroes” as its front cover. First released on CD in 1984, it is remastered and reissued in 1991 with two additional bonus tracks. It is also issued as a limited edition, numbered 24K gold CD by Rykodisc using the 20-bit SBM (Super Bit Mapping) process. “Heroes” is reissued again in 1999, when Bowie’s catalog is moved to Virgin/EMI, but without the added bonus tracks. The album is remastered and reissued on CD and vinyl in 2017 as part of the box set “A New Career In A New Town – 1977 – 1982”. “Heroes” peaks at number three on the UK album chart, and number thirty five on the Billboard Top 200.

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twixnmix:

David Bowie and his wife Angie Bowie photographed by Tom Kelley, 1975.

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David Bowie and his wife Angie Bowie photographed by Terry O’Neill, circa 1973.

On this day in music history: July 11, 1969 – “Space Oddity” by David Bowie is released. Written by David Bowie, it is the eleventh UK and fourth US single release for the rock music icon from Brixton, London, UK. Forming his first band in 1962, David Jones makes his recording debut two years later with the single “Liza Jane”, under the name Davie Jones And The King-Bees. It fails and he moves on to numerous other blues bands including The Mannish Boys, The Lower Third, and more pop oriented Riot Squad. By 1967, unhappy with being in a band, Jones decides to go it on his own. With the decision to go solo, he renames himself David Bowie, taking his new stage name from the 19th century frontiersman Jim Bowie, and to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of The Monkees. Even with the change in name, it doesn’t help Bowie land a hit, with his first solo single “The Laughing Gnome” and debut album released in the Spring of 1967, quickly fading from view. By 1969, Bowie is dropped by his label Deram Records. During this time, he sees Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Inspired by the films second act about the exploration of space, Bowie begins to write around that concept, creating the fictional astronaut Major Tom. With world attention focused on the impending first mission to the moon being launched by NASA, Bowie completes the song titled “Space Oddity”, recording a rough early version in February of 1969. His manager Ken Pitt negotiates a deal with Philips Records in the UK and Mercury Records in the US. When producer Tony Visconti hears the demo, he opts not to work with Bowie on it, instead recommending his colleague Gus Dudgeon (Elton John) to produce. “Space Oddity” is recorded at Trident Studios in London on June 20, 1969 with Rick Wakeman (mellotron), Mick Wayne (guitar), Herbie Flowers (bass) and Terry Cox (drums). The bulk of the track is recorded in the first session, its completed over the next few days. Released just five days before the Apollo 11 launch to the moon, it becomes David Bowie’s breakthrough in the UK, peaking at #5 on September 6, 1969. In the US, it fails to crack the Hot 100, Bubbling Under at #124. However, it is not the last time it is heard from. After breaking stateside in the early 70’s, RCA Records acquires the rights to Bowie’s album from Mercury and Philips, re-releasing it as “Space Oddity”, and reissuing the title track. It becomes his first US top 40 single, peaking at #15 on the Hot 100 on April 7, 1973. RCA in the UK then reissues the song in the Fall of 1975, hitting number one, and spending two weeks at the top. Regarded as one of the signature songs of David Bowie’s career, “Space Oddity” has been covered numerous times, with the original being featured in many films. Bowie again makes reference to Major Tom in “Ashes To Ashes” (#1 UK, #101 US Pop), and in the songs “Hallo Spaceboy” and on the title track of his final album “Blackstar”. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the single’s release, “Space Oddity” is reissued with a new remix by producer Tony Visconti, in digital and vinyl single configurations on July 12, 2019. The vinyl edition is released as a box set, featuring a replica of the original 1969 UK mono 45 edit, and second 45 with the remix versions. The singles also include replicas of the rare previously unreleased UK picture sleeve, a double sided poster and a postcard.

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On this day in music history: July 3, 1973 – David Bowie announces that he is retiring his musical alter ego “Ziggy Stardust”. The previous year, Bowie takes on the persona of the enigmatic and androgynous “rock star alien”, for the landmark album “The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars”. It is during the UK tour for the follow up album “Aladdin Sane”, that Bowie tells his manager Tony DeFries and guitarist Mick Ronson that has taken “Ziggy” as far as he can. The last show of the UK dates takes place at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, which are filmed for a documentary by filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker (“Don’t Look Back”, “Monterey Pop”). Turning in an electrifying performance that evening, it is near the end of the show that the singer announces. “Of all the shows on this tour, this particular show will remain with us the longest, because not only is it the last show of the tour, but it’s the last show that we’ll ever do.” With that statement, Bowie and his band launch into the final song “Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide”, also the final track on the “Ziggy Stardust” album. At the time, fans misunderstand Bowie’s statement, believing that he is retiring from music altogether, and not just doing away with his “Ziggy” persona. Many years are spent piecing together all of the film footage shot for the documentary, due largely to technical and lighting issues. Bowie’s own lack of interest in participating in the post-production, hinders progress of the completing the project. A shortened version of the concert that also features an appearance by guitarist Jeff Beck, airs on the ABC series “In Concert” on October 25, 1974. At Beck’s request, his performance is removed from the longer cut of the concert footage. The final cut of the film makes its long awaited debut on August 31, 1979 at the Edinburgh Film Festival in Scotland. Well received upon its public screening, David Bowie changes his mind about the film, and sets about to improve the soundtrack portion of it. Collaborating with producer Tony Visconti, they remix the audio portion to give the documentary a true stereo soundtrack for both an album and theatrical re-release. With Bowie in the middle of a huge comeback with the album “Let’s Dance”, the film “Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars: The Motion Picture” is released through 20th Century Fox on December 23, 1983. Bowie’s former label RCA Records issues an accompanying double LP soundtrack album of the same name. It is released on home video by MGM/UA Columbia in 1984, with reissues in 1998 and 2003. Long out of print on vinyl and CD, the soundtrack album is remastered and reissued in 2015, as part of David Bowie’s “Five Years: 1969 – 1973” box set, and as a stand alone release in 2016.

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David Bowie with his wife Angie Bowie and their 3-week-old son Zowie Bowie in Beckenham, England on June 29, 1971. 

Photos by Ron Burton

twixnmix:

David Bowie with his wife Angie and their son Zowie (Duncan Jones) at the Amstel Hotel in

Amsterdam, February 1974. 

On this day in music history: June 6, 1972 – “The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars”, the fifth studio album by David Bowie is released (UK release date is on June 16, 1972). Produced by David Bowie and Ken Scott, it is recorded at Trident Studios in London from September 7, 1971, November 1971, and January 12 – 18, 1972. Even before his fourth album “Hunky Dory” is released, David Bowie begins working on the follow up release. Never willing to stand still musically or image wise, Bowie makes himself over as something otherworldly. Dyeing his sandy brown hair a striking shade of reddish brown, and dressing in flamboyant futuristic costumes, Bowie adapts the persona of Ziggy Stardust. The albums concept centers around the fictional alien rock star, coming to earth to present humanity with a message of hope during its last days. But in the end, Ziggy is consumed by his hedonistic lifestyle and his fans. The album is a major critical and commercial success in the UK upon its release, and begins Bowie’s rise to success in the US. In time, it is regarded as one the most important and influential rock albums of all time. With his “Ziggy Stardust” persona, Bowie becomes a central figure in the glam rock movement sweeping the UK, setting him on the path to becoming a worldwide star. Bowie eventually retires his alter ego just over a year later in July of 1973. His final live performance as Ziggy is captured in the D.A. Pennebaker (“Monterey Pop”) directed film “Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars”, which is screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival on August 31, 1979. The film is finally released along with an accompanying soundtrack album on December 23, 1983. Reissued and remastered several times since its original mid 80’s CD release, the original album is remixed by co-producer and engineer Ken Scott in 2003. This remixed version along with the original mix are remastered and reissued in 2015, and are included in the box set “David Bowie – Five Years 1969 – 1973” on CD and 180 gram vinyl LP’s. “The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars” peaks at number five on the UK album chart, number seventy five on the Billboard Top 200, is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA, is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999, and is selected for preservation by the National Recording Registry of The Library Of Congress in 2017.

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On this day in music history: May 21, 1983 – “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Club Play chart for 2 weeks on April 30, 1983, and peaking at #14 on the R&B singles chart on May 28, 1983. Written by David Bowie, it is the second US chart topper for the British rock icon. Newly signed to a worldwide record deal with EMI Records in 1982 worth over $10 million, David Bowie collaborates with musician Nile Rodgers of Chic on his first album with the label. Before the recording sessions begin, Bowie plays Rodgers a number of new songs he has written including one titled “Let’s Dance”. Originally written on a 12-string acoustic guitar, Bowie’s original arrangement bares almost no resemblance to what it becomes. Rodgers takes the folk-rock acoustic based song, and transforms it into a funky, uptempo dance rock song. Recorded at The Power Station in New York City in December of 1982, “Let’s Dance” along with the rest of the accompanying album is recorded in under three weeks. “Dance” features most of the core rhythm section of Chic including Tony Thompson (drums), Rob Sabino (keyboards), Sammy Figueroa (percussion) and Rodgers himself (guitar) as well as Carmine Rojas (bass), and a then little known blues guitarist named Stevie Ray Vaughan providing the stinging lead guitar on the track. The title track from David Bowie’s fifteenth studio album, it is released in March of 1983 and is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #59 on March 26, 1983, it  climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. The single also tops the chart in the UK, becoming his third chart topper in his home country. “Dance” not only become Bowie’s biggest single and album, but also introduces him to a new audience, winning him a new generation of fans. The song is accompanied by a music video directed by long time collaborator David Mallet, shot in Sydney, Australia in early 1983. To commemorate the thirty fifth anniversary, the original demo recording of “Let’s Dance” is released digitally on January 8, 2018, Bowie’s 71st birthday. The complete version along with a live recording from the “Serious Moonlight Tour”, is released as a limited edition 12" single for Record Store Day on April 21, 2018. “Let’s Dance” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 20, 1976 – “Changesonebowie”, the eleventh album by David Bowie is released. It is the first compilation of Bowie’s hits on RCA Records from 1969 to 1976. The album also marks the first appearance of the track “John I’m Only Dancing” on an album. The song had been previously issued as a stand alone single in September of 1972. The first 1,000 copies of the UK LP have the “sax version” of the song, a re-recorded version cut in January of 1973. It issued as a single in the UK in April of 1973, using the same catalog number as the first pressing. The compilation subsequently switches out the “sax version” with the original release on future pressings. “Ziggy Stardust” is also issued as a single A-side in tandem with the compilations release to help promote it. “Changesone” is also briefly reissued on CD in 1985 by RCA, but is quickly withdrawn after Bowie acquires the rights to his master recordings. The album also spawns a sequel compilation titled “Changestwobowie” released in November of 1981. After both titles are deleted, another Bowie hits album titled “Changesbowie” featuring tracks from both albums with songs from the “Let’s Dance” and “Tonight” albums (originally released on EMI-America Records) is released in 1990, while Bowie’s catalog is distributed by Rykodisc. It too is deleted when the Bowie’s catalog is licensed to EMI Records worldwide. On May 20, 2016, the album is reissued on vinyl for the first time in over two decades, to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of its original release. Parlophone/WMG presses the new reissue on black and limited edition clear 180 gram vinyl. “Changesonebowie” peaks at number two on the UK album chart, number ten on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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