David Bowie and the Lower Third ended 1965 with Bowie’s first show outside the United Kingdom.
It took place at Golf-Drouot at 2 Rue Drouot in Montmartre, Paris. The club was owned by Henri Leproux.
We still arrived late in Paris as the distance between Calais and Paris had deceived us somewhat (I believe it took us something like eight or nine hours). Somehow, though, we miraculously navigated our way through the outer reaches of Paris to the even narrower Montmartre streets, and there we found our Marquee representative waiting for us on a street corner. I don’t know how we found the right street, let alone Paris. All credit to Graham in the end, I believe, though Paul may have deserved a pat on the back too, it’s hard to remember. All I know is, we got to the place.
Anyway this Marquee rep was very pissed off with us for being late (not that late, actually), and I got quite annoyed with him after what I thought we’d achieved in finding him at all.
At The Birth Of Bowie
Bowie and the Lower Third had spent the previous night in Margate; Bowie slept at guitarist Denis Taylor’s home at 27 Kent Road. In the morning of the 31st they took the ferry from Ramsgate to France.
They were co-headliners with singer Arthur Brown, who scored a hit single in 1968 with ‘Fire’. The event was booked by the Marquee Club in London, and also featured a performance by club regulars Vigon and the Lemons.
We had been used to getting a good response at the Marquee by now, but the French kids went absolutely bonkers for us. It was a really frantic, well-received gig. Probably the best reception we had ever had.
As soon as our set was over and we were back in our dressing room, hot, sweaty and somewhat overwhelmed at our reception, almost immediately we were greeted with a god-awful pounding at the door, mixed with what sounded like a few dozen excited, determined screams from girls desperately trying to get to us. We had never experienced anything quite like this before, and looked at each other in amazement.
Representatives of the Golf-Drouot, including boss Henri Leproux (who, I recently discovered, died in 2014), told us later that we had received one of the best responses they’d ever had for a British band. Whether that’s what they said to every visiting British band I don’t know, but you certainly couldn’t fake that hysterical audience response, no way. The club was also delighted we would be back for at least one more show in a couple of days. As it turned out, we were asked to do an extra afternoon matinée too.
As our dressing-room door was about to cave in under this growing onslaught, and eager not to become rock casualties following our first concert abroad, we adhered to the club’s sage advice and swiftly made our escape down some back stairs to the Rue Drouot, where a couple of cars were parked and ready to go. We were all still sweaty and buzzing after our high-energy performance as we practically skipped down the steep, narrow staircase, led by one of the club’s management who was shouting loudly ahead to alert the drivers.
Some kids had already made it outside and ran over to say goodbye, so we quickly signed some autographs, kissed a few eager (female) lips and then piled into the waiting vehicles. I was amazed at how our French driver just bashed into the cars parked in front and behind to get out, while our mini fan club excitedly waved and blew kisses to us from the pavement, with at least one shedding a tear. This really felt like pop-star treatment and, on arrival at our hotel, we ducked straight into the bijou hotel bar for a few beers and a much-needed wind-down. It had been some day.
As we’d made such a hasty retreat from Golf-Drouot, our equipment had to remain. We had asked roadie Paul if he would, as he was hired to do, pack everything up for us but he was having none of it. ‘It’s so crazy out there I’m not doing it. I’ll collect it tomorrow when it’s safer,’ he said, rather pathetically. As the club was OK with that, Paul was able to escape with us, but Den, Graham and I were a bit miffed that he hadn’t secured our valuable gear.
At The Birth Of Bowie
Golf-Drouot opened in 1955 as a tea room with a miniature golf course, and in 1961 became a nightclub. It closed in 1981.
It was the very first place I tried out something that was pretty much like a kind of punk thing. His club was very inspirational for me, it really was, because we were trying out, at that time, what we considered was fairly exciting music. We had a chance to play somewhere, and he let us work with it.
Any Day Now, Kevin Cann
Also on this day...
- 1973: RCA holds press lunch for David Bowie
- 1963: Live: The Konrads, Justin Hall, West Wickham, Bromley
Want more? Visit the David Bowie history section.