Category: david bowie 1971

David Bowie’s handwritten notes on this Brian …

David Bowie’s handwritten notes on this Brian Ward photo used for the back cover of 1971’s Hunky Dory.

David Bowie’s adorable stubble and turtleneck …

David Bowie’s adorable stubble and turtleneck porn, 1971

David Bowie, “Kooks”, solo acoustic, from Bowi…

David Bowie, “Kooks”, solo acoustic, from Bowie at the Beeb, recorded June 3, 1971, broadcast June 21.

Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones (b. May 30. 1971) was by no means the first rock kid, but he was perhaps the first whose dad wrote a song to him and put it on an album, 1971′s Hunky Dory

That version of “Kooks”, recorded in July, was quite elaborate, featuring the band soon to be known as The Spiders from Mars, with Trevor Bolder adding trumpet to his unusually busy bass, Mick Ronson’s string arrangements, and guest Rick Wakeman’s dance hall piano (who also played on “Changes”, “Life on Mars?”, and “Oh! You Pretty Things”). I think it’s perfect, one of the highlights of the album, and of David’s discography.

This is the first recording, though, recorded live by the BBC, with just David and a guitar, only 4 days after Duncan was born. This one is perfect in its own way, too, and quite a revelation. Before he starts the song, David notes that he’d been at home listening to Neil Young when he got the news of Duncan’s birth (Angela’s labor went on for 30 hours, so David left?), and this version of “Kooks” really does sound like it could have come straight off of After The Gold Rush.

That may seem an odd point of origin, especially given how very, very English “Kooks” sounds in its released version, but don’t forget that David started 1971 with his first trip to the US, traveling cross-country (from Washington DC to Los Angeles) by bus on a three-week press tour. As he said in 1999, “The whole Hunky Dory album reflected my newfound enthusiasm for this new continent that had been opened up to me. That was the first time a real outside situation affected me so 100 percent that it changed my way of writing and the way I look at things.” 

It was reflected in songs inspired by Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol (both of those by name, of course), and Lou Reed, among many others, including yes, Neil Young. After the Gold Rush spent that entire year on the Billboard charts, and landed as the 20th-best selling album of 1971. It would have been inescapable for David (as indeed it was for all of us!).

In fact, David’s next recording of “Kooks”, the first official demo, was even more Neil Young-inspired, verging on the downright derivative – slower, sleepier, folkier, and honestly, a little spooky. Neil would’ve been all over this, I think. You can hear that version over @bowiesongs, Chris O’Leary’s companion tumblr to his WordPress blog Pushing Ahead of The Dame (named for the great line from Hunky Dory’s Velvet Underground tribute, “Queen Bitch”), one of the best fan-based resources for any artist on the web, and the best textual resource on Bowie, period, as well as the first volume of the book(s) coming out of it, Rebel Rebel: All the Songs of David Bowie From ‘64 to ’76 (needless to say, highly recommended).

There was another version of “Kooks” that aired on the BBC on September 21, 1971, “Bob Harris’ Sounds Of The Seventies”, which had been recorded for what turned out to be  an extremely rare (500 copies) Hunky Dory promo called  BOWPROMO1, featuring 7 songs from David on side 1 and 5 from Dana Gillespie on side 2. (The Bowie tracks were officially released on Record Store 2017.) 

It’s quite charming, too – starting to sound considerably more British with Trevor Bolder on bass (but no brass), and Mick Ronson on acoustic guitar and vocals (but no strings) – but to me it falls short of both the polished gem of the Hunky Dory version, and the intimacy of the first BBC version. Still, you can hear David’s laughter as the song begins, and the smile of his that you hear throughout will wind up on your own face too.

(Young Duncan sucking Dad’s finger, June 29, 1971, by Ron Burton.)

My favorite versions of “Kooks” are definitely the ones from Hunky Dory and the June 1971 BBC version that I brought you at the top of this post, but all four are completely unique, and very much worth hearing. You’ll come away with an even clearer picture of how much craft David put into every aspect of his presentations, as well as a razor-sharp view of how much of it was all the way there from the very first moment. 

And yeah, a reminder of how closely connected David remained to Duncan through the rest of his life. Theirs is my favorite parent-child relationship in the rock pantheon, and you can hear the beginning of it right here, days after they met for the very first time.

David Bowie, 1971, in front of a billboard adv…

David Bowie, 1971, in front of a billboard advertisement for Peter Noone’s cover of “Oh! You Pretty Things,” on which David also played piano. It was released well before Bowie’s own version on Hunky Dory, and reached #12 on the UK singles chart. 

majortomzin:David Bowie and Marlene Dietrich. …


David Bowie and Marlene Dietrich.
Inspiration for Hunky Dory poses.

1971 portraits by Brian Ward

bowielove1984: Top| 1st visit to USA, David Bo…


Top| 1st visit to USA, David Bowie and Ron Oberman Dallas Airport 27.01.71

Bottom| 1st visit to USA, David Bowie and Ron Oberman at Silver Springs, Oberman family home, 27.01.71

“Dressed up for the Bowie life: When you’re a …

“Dressed up for the Bowie life: When you’re a fella and wear a frock, you get a deep feeling of freedom” ~Daily Mirror, April 24, 1971, via

missadler1897: © Sony Music Archives 1971.


© Sony Music Archives 1971.

bewlays: David Bowie at Haddon Hall, 1971 …


David Bowie at Haddon Hall, 1971


Pictorial Press Ltd

bowietrackbytrack: Track 75: Holy Holy (Single…


Track 75: Holy Holy (Single version)

Holy Holy was Bowie’s thirteenth single. It was released in January 1971 at the time of The Man Who Sold the World album – which went out in the USA in November 1970 and April 1971 in the UK. The album, tho, was generally seen as not containing any potential singles. In the States, however, the idea was mooted to release an edited version of All the Madmen, but the cut never got further than test pressings (see more stuff below). Meanwhile, Bowie had recorded Holy Holy, and was thinking of renaming the album after the single and including it on the track list for the UK (which, of course, didn’t happen). Holy Holy was one of two tracks Bowie developed from demos earlier in the year, the other being the suicidal Tired of My Life (which would eventually become It’s No Game on the Scary Monsters album – see more stuff below). The single itself is a bizarre little cut. Recorded with session musicians, its Crowley-esque black-magik themes float upon a patchwork of disparate riffs and melodies, a mosaic of different musical motifs, and sounding as if bubbling up from some kind of glam hell. Brilliant in its own way, the B Side was Black Country Rock from The Man Who Sold the World. The single bombed. Nonetheless, Bowie would later return to Holy Holy in the Ziggy period; for now, however, Bowie was already moving on. He’d started composing music using piano, and had a new vision…

‘Holy Holy’: The A Side to the Holy Holy

Single. Written by David Bowie. Single released 15 January 1971.
Available on Five Years (1969–1973) boxset on Re:Call 1

More stuff:

Holy Holy on Pushing Ahead of the Dame

Tired of My Life

(demo) on Youtube

All the Madmen (US single edit – unreleased) – not available on Youtube. 
Available on Five Years (1969–1973) boxset on Re:Call 1

Great work here, thanks! Following through to the Pushing Ahead of the Dame link:

Bowie knew that he had whiffed this one, though, and went back to “Holy Holy” in September 1971 with his new Spiders from Mars (Ronson, Woodmansey and Trevor Bolder). The remake is leagues better than the original—Ronson in particular is inspired, moving from an ominous locomotive intro riff to his sleek solo, a different (though harmonized) guitar track for each speaker. The remade “Holy Holy” was good enough to have made the cut for Ziggy Stardust, but instead wound up as a B-side a few years later. Seemingly of its moment, “Holy Holy”‘s time never quite came.

Keeping in mind that most of Ziggy Stardust was recorded by November 1971, before Hunky Dory was even released, and that David’s hair was still flowing well past his shoulders, the 1971 version of “Holy Holy” (aka, “The Spiders Version”) is a huge leap forward.