Recording, mixing: The Laughing Gnome

The fourth and final recording session for David Bowie’s single ‘The Laughing Gnome’ took place at Decca Studios on Wednesday 8 March 1967.

The backing track had been taped on 26 January 1967, and vocal overdub sessions took place on 7 and 10 February.

The Laughing Gnome single – United Kingdom

The sessions were produced by Mike Vernon, with studio engineer Gus Dudgeon – later to produce Bowie’s first major hit ‘Space Oddity’ – providing the voice of the second gnome.

We did this bloody silly song and he finished the vocal and decided that he wanted to do a speeded-up voice. I got the tape operator to run it at half-speed, and as we took the tape down in speed, our voices went up. I mean, it’s so corny, it’s pathetic. And somehow we got this idea that we would try and incorporate as many jokes about the word ‘gnome’ as we could think of. I mean, it was pathetic really. Well, in fact, it is pathetic. Somehow or other we got off on doing this. That’s the really scary part. Technically it worked, but it’s bloody embarrassing. We actually came up with those lines between us. I mean, what were we on?
Gus Dudgeon
Strange Fascination, David Buckley

All four recording sessions took place at Decca Studios in north London. A note on the tape box from this session stated that the final version contained “less gnome voices”.

The various edits and mixes lasted between 2:30 and 3:30 – the final version is midway between the two. There was also reportedly a version featuring only gnome voices, which was credited on the tape to the Rolling Gnomes.

Last updated: 26 July 2022
Mixing: David Bowie (1967)
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