Live: Dorchester Hotel, London

David Bowie gave a 10-minute performance at a charity show titled The Stage Ball at London’s Dorchester Hotel on 19 November 1967.

The show was in aid of the British Heart Foundation and the Catholic Stage Guild. Bowie was accompanied by the Dorchester’s in-house musicians, Bill Saville and his Orchestra.

As David was no longer touring with a band the opportunities he had to perform in public were very few and so when Michael Armstrong’s friend Barry Linnane asked if David would appear at the Stage Ball, he immediately agreed to. The Stage Ball was organised by the Catholic Stage Guild in aid of the Guild and the British Heart Foundation and was held at the Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane on Sunday, November 19. David had a ten minute spot accompanied by the Bill Saville Orchestra. They were probably the longest ten minutes in David’s short professional life, but the experience of working with such an orchestra to such an audience was good training for the years ahead. I noticed that one person in the audience was particularly revelling in David’s show. It was Danny La Rue, the female impersonator, but when I later wrote to him at his own night club in Hanover Square, seeking an engagement for David, I got no reply.

David and I were given a sumptuous dinner at the top table and I recall that sitting opposite us was the actor Frazer Hines, who was then starring on television in Doctor Who and, in recent years, in Emmerdale Farm. Barry Linnane, the Ball’s organising secretary, wrote to say: ‘Thank you so much for your wonderful cooperation over the cabaret for the Ball, and I am sure you realise how successful and well received David’s act was and I am very grateful to you both for the time and effort expended.’

Another person in the audience whom David impressed was Marylin Fox, who worked on the Jackanory programme for BBC Television. She sent in to producers a most enthusiastic report about David with the result that he made frequent trips to the BBC to discuss various ideas that were put to him, one of which was to co-write with Adrian Love, who later went to radio station LBC and then to Capital Radio. None of these ideas bore fruit.

Kenneth Pitt
The Pitt Report
Last updated: 20 April 2023
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