June, 2018 SFAS Event – Richie Unterberberger Discusses David Bowie
June 16, 2018 at The Shops at Hilltop
Our most recent event at the Shops at Hilltop was an interesting and informative presentation on the early works of David Bowie by Richie Unterberger and Alec Palao.
Richie is an author of at least 12 books on music history and travel plus a reviewer of too many albums to count for various books, publications, and databases. Richie’s website ( http://www.richieunterberger.com/) provides a thorough overview of his extensive work over the years including works on The Beatles, The Who and Velvet Underground.
Alec is a consultant/producer at Ace Records and does freelance work as well. He is also a historian, writer, and presenter. Originally from England, Alec has spent his approximately 35 years in the states satiating his quest for all things music. To review the impressive list of work product by Alec, check out the AllMusic website ( https://www.allmusic.com/artist/alec-palao-mn0000614992).
Richie began the presentation with a cool, old video clip of Bowie singing “Space Oddity” from the album David Bowie. “Space Oddity” became Bowie’s first hit in the UK in 1969. The song didn’t hit the charts in the US until 1972.
Richie then moved to talking about Bowie’s early works working with record producer Shel Talmy who was from the US, but was big in the UK rock scene including producing albums with The Kinks and The Who. Shel signed Bowie and worked with him during those early years.
Richie then revealed that David Bowie’s birth name was David “Davie” Jones and Bowie used that name for his early works including an album by a group called the Mannish Boys.
Alec then stepped up and spoke of his research and experiences delving into Bowie’s history including the original master tape of the Mannish Boys from January, 1965 which he had with him. We got to listen to a cut produced from this tape which was quite interesting in that it was not really recognizable as the voice of Bowie with which we’re all familiar. Alec continued the story talking about how Bowie was a prolific writer and was into MOD rock at the time producing songs similar to the popular groups at the time: The Who, The Kinks and even Simon and Garfunkel. Over the years Bowie was a chameleon – constantly changing his musical style and direction. Alec played a copy of an acetate copy of one of 5 unreleased songs under the name Davie Jones showing how Bowie was trying different things in his search for a hit single. After these numerous trials of songs and albums which never gained popularity Bowie and Shel parted ways.
Richie returned and played “The London Boys” which was first released as the B-side of the single ” Rubber Band” in the UK and was one of the most significant songs before the album Space Oddity.
Clip of “Oh You Pretty Things” from the Hunky Dory album.
Additional video clips played by Richie included the following:
- Clip of “Starman” on Ziggy Stardust in 1972.
- Clip of a TV special with Marian Faithful in 1973 covering “I’ve Got You Babe”. Quite an interesting version of the song with very interesting costumes to boot!
- Clip of “Golden Years” from the Soultrain TV show.
- Clip of Bowie on The Tonight Show – “Life on Mars” on the Hunky Dory album and “Ashes to Ashes” from the Scary Monsters album.
The atte ndees at this event enjoyed the presentation and information provided. If you enjoyed this presentation or missed it and would be interested in attending another deep dive into a favorite musician or group. One possibility would be Velvet Underground. Richie has done extensive writing on this group and has lots of rare clips. Please let us know and we’ll look into arranging another presentation with Richie and possibly Alec.
Also, thanks to Nic at Up The Creek Records in Walnut Creek (http://www.upthecreekrecords.com/ ) for the loan of a very special photo of David Bowie taken during the photo shoot for Bowie’s Heathens album. Do check out Up The Creek if you’re in the area. It’s a wonderful shop that not only has a nice selection of records, but has some unique items for sale and live music on weekends. The picture below does not do the photo justice.