Recording: Let Me Sleep Beside You, Karma Man

David Bowie worked with Tony Visconti for the first time on 1 September 1967.

The recording session took place at Advision Sound Studios, at 83 New Bond Street in central London. Visconti produced the session, during which Bowie recorded the songs ‘Let Me Sleep Beside You’ and ‘Karma Man’.

The session musicians were guitarists John McLaughlin and Big Jim Sullivan, drummer Andy White, and Visconti’s wife Siegrid on backing vocals.

On 1 September we went into Advision Studios, in New Bond Street and recorded it along with another of David’s songs called ‘Karma Man’. Its subject matter alluded to Tibetan Buddhism, another fascination we shared. The sessions went very well, with both Big Jim Sullivan and John McLaughlin on guitars, but we were in trouble from the start. Deram’s A&R people said ‘Let Me Sleep Beside You’ was too sexual in context and the BBC wouldn’t play it. After this was put to David he reluctantly bowed to their wishes and punched in the line ‘Let me “be” beside you.’ Of course it changed the meaning and didn’t have the same impact. Deram then dropped their concern for the suggestive original title and it went out that way. The BBC ignored the single.
Tony Visconti
Bowie, Bolan and the Brooklyn Boy

Decca representatives met on 18 September and listened to the recordings, but declined to release them

The infamous Decca selection panel, or the ‘Monday meeting’ as it was colloquially known, had to be seen to be believed and, on one occasion, I was permitted to be present while my product was being judged. I am still not sure that I believe what I saw and heard. Gentleman of different ages but in similar suits sat informally around the room in what appeared to me to be varying degrees of somnolence. It was Monday, the least popular day of the working week, and one or two seemed to resent having to return from a pleasant weekend in order to listen to all this jangle. Far too many were reading their morning papers and some hid behind them like ostriches burying their heads in the sand. The sight was depressing and the sounds even more so. Murmerings, mutterings and grunts were the only indications that perhaps a few of them had listened to the record. It was a lamentable performance and I believe that the seeds of Decca’s eventual demise were sown during those unhappy Mondays.
Kenneth Pitt
The Pitt Report
Last updated: 14 March 2023
US single release: Love You Till Tuesday
Photo shoot: The Image
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