Recording: The London Boys

David Bowie’s first attempt at recording ‘The London Boys’ took place on 25 November 1965. He was backed by The Lower Third.

The session took place at Pye Studios in London’s Marble Arch, with Tony Hatch producing. At that time the song was titled ‘Now You’ve Met The London Boys’.

He was always writing new songs, so that [‘Can’t Help Thinking About Me’] wouldn’t have been in our repertoire for that long. We’d have run through it at Regent Sound, a recording studio in Denmark Street where we did our private demos to see how it came out. It wasn’t the first song we recorded for release at Pye, though. That was ‘London Boys’.

Tony Hatch, who was our recording manager, was happy with it. But in those days things were a bit staid and they had a committee of some sort to sanction new releases, so Pye wouldn’t let Tony release it, which was a big disappointment. We had to go back in with another number.

Phil Lancaster
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Although Pye rejected the song, reportedly due to the line “You tried a pill”, Bowie continued performing ‘The London Boys’ for much of the following year.

The Hatch version remained unreleased, and Bowie re-recorded the song with the Buzz over a year later, on 18 October 1966.

Every number in Dave’s stage act is an original that he has written. As he says. the themes is usually London kids and their lives. However, it leads to trouble.

“Several of the younger teenagers’ programmes wouldn’t play ‘Can’t Helping Thinking About Me’, because it is about leaving home. The number relates several incidents in every teenager’s life – and leaving home is something which always comes up.

“Tony Hatch and I rather wanted to do another number I had written. It goes down very well in the stage act, and lots of fans said I should have released it – but Tony and I thought the words were a bit strong.”

In what way? “Well, it tells the story of life as some teenagers saw it – but we didn’t think the lyrics were quite up many people’s street. I do it on stage though, and we’re probably keeping it for an EP or maybe an LP. Hope, hope! It’s called “Now You’ve Met The London Boys”, and mentions pills, and generally belittles the London night life scene.

“I’ve lived in London and been brought up here, and I find it’s a great subject to write songs about. And remember, with all original numbers the audiences are hearing numbers they’ve never heard before – so this makes for a varied stage act,” said David, “It’s risky, because the kids aren’t familiar with the tunes, but I’m sure it makes their musical life more interesting.”

Melody Maker, 26 February 1966
Last updated: 14 March 2023
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