Decca agrees to record David Bowie’s debut album

Decca Records agreed to record and release the debut album by David Bowie on Monday 24 October 1966.

On 20 October Bowie’s manager Kenneth Pitt had met Decca’s head of promotions Tony Hall, and played him a recently-recorded demo of ‘Rubber Band’. Hall was impressed and played the recording to the label’s artists manager Hugh Mendl.

Mendl met Pitt on 24 October, as well as Decca’s in-house producer Mike Vernon. Pitt played them recordings of ‘Rubber Band’, ‘The London Boys’, and ‘Please Mr Gravedigger’. The Decca men agreed to record a full album, deciding that it would be released on their pop label Deram.

I had previously worked with Hugh and Mike when, several years before, they had produced an album with a client of mine named Alan Klein, who had had great success with a song he had written called ‘What A Crazy World’ and which had become a musical at Stratford East and a film starring Joe Brown, Marty Wild and Harry H. Corbett. A small part was played in the film by an actor named Barry Bethell, who later in life would take part in a farce called Mainman.

During the discussion that followed it was agreed that David should have a contract to make an album produced by Mike Vernon and that Decca should purchase the three recordings made at R.G. Jones’s studio. David was to receive an advance of royalties amounting to £100 for the album and Decca would pay £150 for the three master tapes, plus royalties. They would also pay all production costs, pay David for the arrangements and retain the right to release any track as a single. It was a good deal, for the day of the big advances had not yet arrived.

Kenneth Pitt
The Pitt Report

Bowie signed a contract to formalise the agreement with Decca on 27 October 1966.

Last updated: 14 March 2023
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