David Bowie auditioned for R&B group The Manish Boys on Sunday 19 July 1964.
Bowie had been managed by Leslie Conn since April 1964. Although he was singing with another group, the King Bees, Bowie was eager for greater success.
Conn met The Manish Boys at the La Gioconda coffee bar on London’s Denmark Street, whether the manager’s office was based. The six-piece band were looking for a new singer, and Conn suggested they try out Davie Jones, then seventeen years old.
The audition took place in the garage of horn player Paul Rodriguez, at 4 Heathside Avenue in Coxheath near Maidstone, Kent.
Prior to Bowie’s involvement, The Manish Boys were Johnny Flux on lead guitar, Paul Rodriguez on guitar, tenor saxophone and trumpet, Woolf Byrne on Baritone saxophone and harmonica, Johnny Watson on bass guitar and vocals, Bob Solly on keyboards, and Mick White on drums.
The Manish Boys were expecting a black American soul singer – they were possibly thinking of Davy Jones, who performed with The Beatles in 1961.
Our manager’s name was Lesley Conn: ‘Conn by name, con by nature’ he used to say.
He said he had this amazing singer who would be ideal for us and were we interested. We said no, because there were already six in the band. But he was quite persuasive and we agreed the guy could come to our next rehearsal.
Bowie was dressed in buckskin, with knee-high boots and long blond hair. I thought ‘Wow, maybe we should take him on after all’.
Bowie brought a copy of the ‘Liza Jane’ single, and sang an a capella version of a new composition, ‘Don’t Try To Stop Me’.
The band were impressed and invited Bowie to join them. For a while he continued with The King Bees while also performing with The Manish Boys.
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