There’s Decent Money In Rediscovered Davie Bowie Demo Tapes, Apparently
Last summer, I told you about the first known studio recording of David Bowie, which had been unearthed and was headed for auction. That auction is now history, and the tape pulled in a lot more than expected.
The 1963 demo, which is on Decca Records‘ list of rejections along with The Beatles (d’oh), sold for almost £40,000, which is four times the original estimate. The 18 minute recording features a 16 year old Bowie — then known as David Jones — providing vocals on I Never Dreamed with his first band, The Konrads. The tape was sold by the band’s drummer, David Hadfield, who had stumbled across it in an old bread basket in his attic. According to Omega Auctions, it sold for £39,360 following a “bidding frenzy.”
Auctioneer Paul Fairweather says that the tape is believed to be the only copy in existence, and is a “significant recording, completely unique”. He says it provides new perspective on Bowie as a “fledgling musician who would go on to super-stardom.” Other items sold include Bowie’s promotional sketches, photographs, and band documents from his Konrads years, which went for £17,130, and a 1963 band poster, which sold for £6,600.
Bowie played saxophone with The Konrads at the time, but the members decided he should provide lead vocals on the tape — although he was reticent, as Hadfield explains: “David had no inclination to become a singer at this point, his heart and mind were focused on becoming a world-class saxophone player. Our agent, Eric Easton, who also managed the Rolling Stones, asked us to do a demo so he could try and get us an audition at Decca. We had decided that we would do a couple of guitar instrumentals and one original song. Decca initially turned us down, but when they eventually gave us an audition later that year, vocalist Roger Ferris was the lead voice and David sang backing harmonies.”
Bowie left the band shortly after the audition, and went on to become a solo artist six years after — with a new surname so that people wouldn’t confuse him with The Monkees‘ Davy Jones. He succumbed to cancer in January of 2016, two days before his 69th birthday and the release of his 25th solo album.