Live: Marquee Club, London – David Bowie meets Dana Gillespie

Davie Jones and the Manish Boys performed at the Marquee Club on London’s Wardour Street on 6 November 1964, supporting Gary Farr & the T-Bones.

This was the first time Bowie was on a bill supporting Farr and the T-Bones. It would be repeated on several occasions in the mid-Sixties. It was also his first time playing at the famous Marquee Club.

In the audience was fourteen-year-old Dana Gillespie, an aspiring actress and singer. She was born Richenda Antoinette de Winterstein Gillespie on 30 March 1949; her father, Hans Henry Winterstein Gillespie, was a London-based radiologist and an Austrian baron.

Dana Gillespie, 1960s

Dana Gillespie was a lover of blues and R&B music, and often visited London clubs including the Marquee to watch new bands perform.

I’d started going down there with a friend when I was thirteen, fourteen. I’d been a pupil at Francis Holland, but I wanted to be on the stage. I got a place at Arts Educational, had a job in a record store in South Kensington after school, and I was very forward for my age. Big-titted, tight tops, lots of peroxide-blonde hair. You couldn’t miss me…

I didn’t know who the King Bees were supporting that night, but they were quite impressive. David came on stage in knee-length suede tasselled boots and a big, loose shirt with a waistcoat. His lemon-yellow hair fell to the shoulders, and he looked rather dreamy to me.

Dana Gillespie
Hero, Lesley-Ann Jones

On this occasion she watched Bowie sound checking before the show. She was impressed with what she saw, though less so with the sounds.

I sat as usual in the front row with my mouth open, agog. I didn’t particularly like the music, and I wasn’t particularly taken with his sax playing either. This was at the sound check, and during the break I was standing in front of the mirror, brushing my hair. David came up from behind and took the brush out of my hand. He started brushing my hair and asked me if he could walk me home that night.
Dana Gillespie, 1985
Any Day Now, Kevin Cann

Gillespie lived with her parents a large Georgian house in South Kensington, which could not have been more different from Bowie’s home.

He’d missed his last train back to Bromley, where he still lived with his parents. I’m a South Ken/Knightsbridge girl, I had no idea where Bromley even was. We walked all the way from Soho to my parents’ house in Thurloe Place. I smuggled him up to my bedroom, where I kept my drum kit and my Spanish nylon-stringed guitar.
Dana Gillespie
Hero, Lesley-Ann Jones

The pair shared Gillespie’s single bed that night. Thereafter they saw each other regularly, although they were never formally boyfriend and girlfriend. They remained firm friends well into Bowie’s career, and he wrote the Hunky Dory song ‘Andy Warhol’ for her. She also performed backing vocals on Bowie’s ‘It Ain’t Easy’, and he and Mick Ronson produced her 1973 album Weren’t Born A Man.

Television: Juke Box Jury
Recording: Rubber Band, The London Boys, Please Mr Gravedigger
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