David Bowie and John ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson performed at the Guildford Arts Festival on 11 March 1969.
The show took place at the University of Surry on Battersea Park Road, London. At the time the institute was in the process of moving to Guildford.
I had arranged for a car to take David there. It was driven by Brian Leeson, who had been a driver to the Manfred Mann group and now had a mini-cab business. Brian was astounded at the sudden change that had come over David and sat uncomfortably in the driving seat as he watched David in the rear mirror preening himself and waving to passers-by.
‘Christ,’ he said, ‘I thought I was driving royalty.’
‘You were Brian,’ I gently reminded him. ‘You were’.
The organisers had previously telephoned to cancel the engagement owing to a double booking, but I told them that this was an all too frequent occurrence where students’ functions were concerned and that at such short notice David would have to be paid his full fee of £35. The double booking was sorted out, the gig went ahead and I sat in the sparse audience enjoying a performance from David that was a revelation. It was as if everything I had striven for had suddenly come together at the same time. He not only looked good in a crisp white laced shirt and white trousers, but he was actually speaking to the audience without any sign of his earlier reticence and often with fetching wit.
The Pitt Report
Bowie and Hutch performed a 35-minute show, which his manager Kenneth Pitt later described as a creative breakthrough.
David gave me no warning, and from the start of our set he camped it up. Frankie Howerd, Larry Grayson and co. eat your hearts out, David had found himself a character, a gay-comic one that he could hide inside of, and be as outrageous as he wanted to be without embarrassment.
I hid my own only very slight embarrassment behind a Bill Wyman deadpan face. I was totally taken aback, but quickly realised what David was up to, and so played the ‘straight man’ to David’s ‘anything but straight man’. ‘This is Hutch,’ David told our audience, ‘I found him in the classified ads in Time Out – under macrobiotics!’ The gig went very well, and Ken Pitt, who attended the gig, seemed delighted with David’s new stage persona.
Bowie & Hutch
Also on this day...
- 1972: Live: Guildhall, Southampton
- 1970: Live: David Bowie and Hype, Roundhouse, London
- 1968: Stage: Pierrot In Turquoise, Mercury Theatre, London
Want more? Visit the David Bowie history section.