Davie Jones changes his name to David Bowie

In September 1965, Davie Jones and the Lower Third were being managed by Ralph Horton.

On 15 September, Horton visited a more established manager, Kenneth Pitt, at his office at 35 Curzon Street in Mayfair, London. The purpose of the visit was to see whether Pitt might be interested in taking over the management of Davie and the Lower Third.

Pitt had not previously heard of Jones, and told Horton that his client list was currently full, but he did promise to attend a future performance by the group.

He also gave Horton some advice: to change Jones’s stage name. Putt was aware that Davy Jones – the future member of the Monkees – had appeared to great acclaim as the Artful Dodger in London and in New York.

Two days later, on 17 September 1965, Horton wrote to Pitt, thanking him for the meeting and informing him that Davie Jones was now known as David Bowie.

Dear Ken,

May I say that I enjoyed our meeting the other day and it was indeed a pleasure to be introduced to you.

I have taken the liberty of writing to you and advising you that I have now changed Davie’s name to David Bowie.

In the meantime I look forward to hearing from you with any suggestions you may have and I will forward to you, as suggested, a copy of the record when they become available.

Yours sincerely,

Ralph Horton

Letter from Ralph Horton to Kenneth Pitt revealing Davie Jones's new name David Bowie, 17 September 1965

Letter from Ralph Horton to Kenneth Pitt, from Any Day Now by Kevin Cann

It is commonly accepted that 16 September 1965 was the date on which the new name was decided.

The name was Bowie’s own choice, and was in part homage to the 19th Century US pioneer Jim Bowie. The musician had toyed with adopting the surname in 1962 in an ill-fated attempt to persuade The Konrads to adopt a Wild West image.

I wasn’t making any money as Davey Jones. I’ve read everything I can get hold of about the pioneering times in the States and I picked the name of Bowie after Jim Bowie, the bloke who invented that knife and died at the Alamo.
David Bowie
Music Echo, 22 January 1966

Pitt and Horton entered into a formal management relationship in April 1966, whereby Pitt would handle Bowie’s business arrangements while Horton attended to his creative and artistic endeavours. Pitt eventually took over the sole management of Bowie.

The first record to bear the name David Bowie was ‘Can’t Help Thinking About Me’, released on 14 January 1966 by David Bowie and the Lower Third.

Live: Marquee Club, London – David Bowie meets Dana Gillespie
Recording: Rubber Band, The London Boys, Please Mr Gravedigger
Also on this day...

Want more? Visit the David Bowie history section.

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