David Bowie signs a publishing deal with Sparta Music

David Bowie – then still known as Davie Jones, but with a name change imminent – signed a publishing deal with Sparta Music on 14 September 1965.

Sparta was run by Hal Shaper, who had seen Bowie and the Lower Third perform at the 100 Club on 26 August.

Ralph Horton was a very nice and persuasive fellow. David looked amazing, but it never crossed my mind that he was a great singer. When he came into my office he was dressed in a half-military uniform, which was very impressive. He was like a peacock. He wasn’t very assertive but Horton was really behind him. I liked the fact he was writing different songs from the rest and, with the onset of TV shows, a singer/songwriter with good looks was a good proposition.
Hal Shaper, 2003
Any Day Now, Kevin Cann

The deal was initially set for twelve months. It was set up by Bowie’s manager Ralph Horton, and was signed at Sparta’s offices at 155 Oxford Street, London.

It is certain that early in September Ralph felt confident enough to go to see Hal Shaper of Sparta Music Publishing Company Limited in search of a publishing contract for his client. On the 14th of that month David signed an Exclusive Writing Agreement with that company for a term of one year with the company having the option to renew the agreement for an additional term of one year. David was to receive the usual royalties with an advance payment of such royalties amounting to £10 for the release of each commercial gramophone recording of his songs, but the contract does not make clear whether or not he was intended to receive £20 if one of his songs appeared on both sides of the record. On the same date David assigned to Sparta the copyright in his song ‘And I say to myself’, which was to become the song on the B-side of his first Pye single, and on December 23 he assigned to Sparta the copyright in ‘Can’t help thinking about me’, which song was to be the A-side.
Kenneth Pitt
The Pitt Report

Bowie’s deal with Sparta was renewed for a further year in September 1966, but shortly afterwards Hal Shaper relinquished its rights to allow Bowie to sign a new contract with Essex Music.

In 1977 Bowie asked Sparta to look after his publishing for a three-year period, to which Shaper readily agreed.

Last updated: 14 March 2023
Live: Davie Jones and the Lower Third, 100 Club, London
Live: Davie Jones and the Lower Third, 100 Club, London
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