Guide to British Music of the 1960s
David (Davy) Jones - vocals, alto & tenpor sax, guitar
David Jones was born in Brixton south London and grew up in Beckenham. The Konrads featuring Dave Jay made their debut at Bromley Technical School in mid-June 1964. The Konrads had a fluid line-up o eight members. Jones left the band as he had decided to become a pop star and felt the Konrads lacked ambition.
David's first recording was as Davy Jones & the King Bees. Alongside Jones were George Underwood on rhythm guitar, Roger Black on lead guitar, Francis Howard on bass and Bob Allen on drums. The two tracks Liza Jane and Louie Louie Go Home were recorded at Decca Studios in West Hampstead. The single received decent radio and TV coverage but was not a commercial success. The band was subsequently dropped by Decca label Vocation Pop.
Jones formed a new band called the Manish Boys and signed to Parlophone. The only single released was I Pity the Fool which was a cover of a Bobby Bland song. The band included Johnny Flux on lead guitar, John Watson on bass, Mick White on drums, Bob Soly on organ, Woolf Byrne on baritone sax & harmonica and Paul Rodriguez on tenor sax & trumpet. The session was produced by Shel Talmy who brought in regular session player Jimmy Page to play the guitar solo on the A-side.
With the next single Jones moved away from R&B towards more of a Mod sound with a new band called Davy Jones & the Lower Third. You've Got a Habit of Leaving was released on Parlophone in August 1965. Also in the band were Dennis Taylor on lead guitar, Graham Rivens on bass and Phil Lancaster on drums. In November 1965, Davy Jones & the Lower Third undertook an audition for the BBC's Talent Selection group, the department responsible for ensuring quality on the BBC. However, the group decided that the band lacking entertainment and the singer was "devoid of personality". A second single by The Lower Third was released in January 1966 with Jones changing his name to David Bowie to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of the Monkees. I Can't Help Thinking About Me has become a Mod classic. Bowie had been signed to Pye by Tony Hatch who also produced the single. The single did not chart and the three other members of the band left before the end of January after financial disagreements. Bowie did continue to play the song with his new band Buzz.
Alongside Bowie in Buzz were John Hutchinson on guitar, Derek Fearnley on bass, John Eager on drums and Derek Boyes on keyboards. Do Anything You Say was released as a single on Pye in April 1966 but credited to David Bowie alone. Tony Hatch replaced Buzz with session musicians for the next single I Dig Everything. Like the previous singles it failed to chart and Bowie was dropped from the Pye label.
During his time with The Buzz, Bowie made some recording with the Riot Squad including covers of The Velvet Underground's Waiting for My Man.
Moving to Deram Records Rubber Band was released at the end of 1966 with Bowie backed by members of Buzz. Bowie's next single actually did reach the charts but six years after it was released in 1967. The Laughing Gnome was more of a comedy record in the style of Bowie's hero Anthony Newley. Although it may be seen as a novelty record it could be viewed in much the same light as Pink Floyd's The Gnome. The Laughing Gnome did chart when reissued in 1973 after Bowie had made a commercial breakthrough.
Bowie's self-titled debut album was a mix of styles and did suit the music that was around at the time. Despite this, it failed to chart. At the time Bowie was exploring all sorts of influences from Anthony Newley to Syd Barrett and music hall. The album should probably to viewed in the context of when it was released rather than compared with his later, more successful, work. There was certainly a desire to experiment with sounds and the fact that all the tracks were written by Bowie showed that he was becoming a prolific songwriter.
The lack of success for Bowie's singles and the album lead to him being dropped by Deram. In an attempt to find a new record label he produced a film Love You Till Tuesday which included many of the tracks previously issued and an early version of Space Oddity. This was finally released in 1984.
After a short break where he became more interested in dance and mime, Bowie returned with a new single Space Oddity. This was at a time when there was immense interest in the Apollo space programme and it was Bowie's commercial breakthrough reaching number 5 in the UK charts. A second album also called David Bowie was released in 1969 although this was retitled Space Oddity in 1972 after a re-release to tie in with the renewed success of the single.
The 1967 David Bowie album was reissued in 2010 as a Deluxe Edition with 53 tracks on two CDs.
David Bowie died of cancer in January 2016.
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