According to a new interview with music producer Tony Visconti, David Bowie and John Lennon first met in scenes that are more reminiscent of a goofy children’s play date than the top of two of the biggest rock stars of all. the temperature.
Speaking on Bowie: Dancing Out in Space, which airs on BBC Radio 4 and 6Music on January 10 to mark five years since Bowie’s death, Visconti, who produced 11 of Bowie’s studio albums, tells how the The couple met in a new Hotel Room in York, ahead of their collaborations on Bowie’s song Fame in 1975 and his cover of the Beatles song written by Lennon Across the Universe.
“He was terrified of meeting John Lennon,” said Visconti, who Bowie asked to go with him and “buffer the situation.” He added:
At about one in the morning I knocked on the door and for about two hours John Lennon and David were not talking to each other. Instead, David was sitting on the floor with a notepad and charcoal and he was drawing things and he was completely ignoring Lennon. So after about two hours of that he [John] finally said to David, “Tear this block in half and give me some sheets.” I want to draw you. So David said, “Oh, that’s a good idea,” and he finally opened up. So John started doing caricatures of David, and David started doing the same of John and they kept swapping them, and then they started laughing and it broke the ice.
Visconti says the couple’s “great friendship” was settled from there. A week later, Bowie called Lennon to invite him to star on the Across the Universe cover; after the recording, a jam they worked together became Fame, co-written with guitarist Carlos Alomar.
Both songs ended up on the 1975 album Young Americans, whose title song features another Beatles reference, the line, “I heard the news today, oh boy.” Fame, on which Lennon also sang falsetto choirs, reached No.1 to become Bowie’s first American hit.
Visconti, 76, also discusses the encounter in his 2007 autobiography Bowie, Bolan and the Brooklyn Boy. He met his future wife May Pang – who was dating Lennon while he was separated from Yoko Ono – for the first time that evening, and he offended her with a misguided commentary on kung fu. “Eventually everyone in the room finally engaged in a woefully dark conversation about ‘what does it all mean’, ‘this is’ life, which left us all staring at the floor. with a dejected air; we were not helped by the diminished effects of cognac and coke, ”he wrote.
He added that he left around 10 a.m. that morning, returning at 4 p.m. to find Bowie awake in exactly the same place he had left him, and announcing that he was finally going to bed.
An unreleased Bowie cover of Lennon’s song Mother – which was addressed to her absent parents – was released on January 8 to mark what would have been Bowie’s 74th birthday.
Visconti said in the BBC interview that Bowie’s mother Margaret “was a very withdrawn, very sad person. Probably suffered from chronic depression… She was in poor health and although they didn’t get along very well, he returned to London to see her. So he still loved her … [the cover of] Mother was probably a reaction to it, maybe a way of putting it.
Visconti, whose career with Bowie dates back to Bowie’s self-titled second album in 1969, also discussed his latest album Blackstar, released in 2016 on his 69th birthday two days before his death from liver cancer at his home in New York. York. Informed by jazz, electro and Kendrick Lamar, it is now considered one of Bowie’s best albums.
“His enthusiasm was incredible,” says Visconti. “It was important to him. He knew what his health problems were. It was important for him to make this album. But we never talked about it, other than a private conversation I had with him before the album, his health was never mentioned. He didn’t even honestly look unhealthy or acting unhealthy, he was in great shape. You could hear in this song that his voice was probably the loudest in his life.
Visconti also said that Bowie “will be remembered as Beethoven… in a hundred years… He’s more than an Elvis, because Elvis never wrote a song in his life.
“If he created a formula, he certainly wouldn’t use it a second time. Bowie was not just a songwriter, he was an innovator on every level. He was a great dancer, he was an actor. More than just a rock star.