David Bowie ends his partnership with the Buzz

On Friday 25 November 1966 David Bowie and his co-manager (with Kenneth Pitt) Ralph Horton told the Buzz that they would no longer be Bowie’s backing band.

The meeting took place at Pitt’s office on Curzon Street, London. At this time the Buzz were bass guitarist Derek ‘Dek’ Fearnley, keyboard player Derek ‘Chow’ Boyes, and drummer John ‘Ego’ Eager.

The following day Horton wrote to Pitt, then on a business trip to Australia, outlining the meeting:

Well it’s happened this week. Perhaps I had better take it from the top. Yesterday David and myself decided to finish the ballroom scene for the following reasons (1) no work (2) wage bill mounting (3) David far too busy with writing (4) because of pressure his health will be impaired. So we gave the boys one week’s notice and they are all accommodated with jobs already. If and when David has a hit single he will do what Crispian [St Peters] did and form backing afterwards but I certainly don’t want to be bothered with vans breaking down etc. This has been what David has wanted for some time because he hates ballrooms and the kids. There is absolutely no money in the ballroom business at present as you pointed out that David can make a lot more at his writing.
Letter from Ralph Horton, 26 November 1966
The Pitt Report

According to Fearnley, Bowie broke down in tears after the Buzz offered to carry on working without payment.

David sat at your desk. Ralph said that the band would have to break up as there was no money at all. Chow, Ego and I said that we were not worried about the money and that we would work for nothing. At that David burst into tears and rushed out of the room and Ralph went after him. When Ralph returned he said that David was overwhelmed by our reply which he hadn’t expected, but even with the band not being paid it couldn’t survive. So we broke up.
Derek Fearnley
The Pitt Report
Last updated: 14 March 2023
Recording: Did You Ever Have A Dream, Join The Gang, There Is A Happy Land, We Are Hungry Men
Live: David Bowie and the Buzz, Community Centre, Gosport
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