WATCH 8 CLASSIC BOWIE VIDEOS HERE. DAVID BOWIE’S 1974 BEGAN with the post-glam apocalypse of Diamond Dogs and ended a world away in the “plastic soul” balm of Young Americans. In between, he wasted away, found funk and Fame in Philadelphia and lost himself in the baroque madness of the Diamond Dogs tour.
With exclusive and revealing input from first-lieutenants Earl Slick and Carlos Alomar, MOJO celebrates the 40th Anniversary of Bowie’s strangest transformation with an in-depth feature by Bowie biographer David Buckley.
“David is a very nervous person, and can be a nervous person amplified by cocaine.”
Fixated on a US breakthrough, Bowie was pushing himself to the limit on one of the most conceptually advanced rock tour presentations thus far envisaged. Meanwhile, American soul soaked into his musical vision, and increasing cocaine use rendered him wired and emaciated.
Moving fast, wildly creative but alarmingly high, the period is perhaps best encapsulated in the famous Dick Cavett TV show appearance from November (broadcast the following month), where Bowie and his newly funkified group play Diamond Dogs’ 1984 and a version of The Flares’ Foot Stomping that would soon morph into his first Billboard Number 1 single, Fame (see video slider, below). In a highlight from his piece, Buckley uncovers the full story of what has become one of Bowie’s most durably hypnotising public appearances.
“David is a very nervous person,” Carlos Alomar tells MOJO, “and can be a nervous person amplified by cocaine. He was saying, ‘It’s the most important show of my career.’ When you start talking like that then you’re getting yourself into a totally different place. And when you’re nervous, what are you going to do? You’ll probably do a bit more coke than you should.”
With a focus on the summer sessions in Sigma Sound studios, Philadelphia, that provided much of the material for the forthcoming Young Americans album, Buckley drills down into Bowie’s 1974 – with new material from Cracked Actor documentary director Alan Yentob, pungent recollections from guitarist Earl Slick and an exploration of the Bowie album that never was: The Gouster.
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