Kenneth Pitt becomes David Bowie’s sole manager

David Bowie had been managed by Ralph Horton since August 1965, and co-managed by Horton and Kenneth Pitt since April 1966.

Horton’s lack of business acumen was evidently holding Bowie back, and in early 1967 the singer and Pitt both came to realise that a sole management deal would be preferable.

At the time Horton was legally Bowie’s sole manager, but a verbal agreement with Pitt was in place. A contract between the three men had been drawn up by Pitt’s solicitor Tim Hardacre in October 1966 to formalise the arrangement, but was never signed by Horton. By early 1967 Pitt was devoting a great deal of time, effort, and money to assist Bowie’s career.

On 17 January Bowie telephoned Pitt to discuss the situation. Previously neither man was aware that they both had concerns about Horton, so Pitt invited Bowie to a meeting at his apartment on Manchester Square, London. They discussed the situation, and two days later Horton visited Pitt, telling him he was willing to concede management duties to Pitt.

David looked upon Ralph as a good friend and was grateful for all he had tried to do, but he realised that Ralph was wholly incapable of handling money, and it was this incapacity of Ralph’s that had saddled David with so much debt… David then said that he thought that Ralph was good enough a friend to realise that he could no longer help him and would agree to release him from the management contract, but he wanted to know if he could count on me for my continued support. With my assurance that he could he then went off to see Ralph.

On January 19 Ralph came to the flat and told me that he was parting from David. He seemed not unduly perturbed and probably was glad to see the end of it all. He had worked long and hard and had got nothing for his trouble but a meagre living. This was at the root of the problem for David and the Lower Third, then later the Buzz, were never in a position to afford Ralph even that. He certainly bore no ill-will.

Kenneth Pitt
The Pitt Report

On Friday 20 January Horton signed legal documents to dissolve his management contract with Bowie, and three days later met Pitt to exchange contracts which formally ended the arrangement. Horton left the music industry shortly afterwards, taking up a job in London with the Royal Automobile Club.

In early February Bowie asked Pitt to formally take over his management, an arrangement which was formalised on 25 April. On 10 February Pitt wrote to Bowie’s father John outlining the change:

David has confirmed to me that he, your wife and you would like me to manage his business affairs and I shall therefore have a mutually suitable contract drawn up and meanwhile do all I can to make up for lost time and get David’s affairs in proper order and his career going along the right lines.
Kenneth Pitt
The Pitt Report

The contract was sent to the Jones house in Bromley in March 1967, and on 9 April Pitt visited to go through the document with John Jones. It was signed on 25 April.

The management arrangement was initially to last one year, with four annual options to renew, meaning it could potentially last until 1972. In the end Pitt parted company with Bowie in 1970.

Last updated: 14 March 2023
Live: David Bowie and the Riot Squad, Assembly Hall, Framlingham
Live: David Bowie and the Riot Squad, Charde Guest House, Birmingham
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