The recording of David Bowie’s second album began at London’s Trident Studios on 16 July 1969.
The album, called David Bowie but sometimes known as Space Oddity, was released on 14 November 1969.
Some of the music was, however, already recorded. The sessions for the single ‘Space Oddity’, produced by Gus Dudgeon, had taken place in June 1969, ahead of its 11 July release.
Two sessions took place on this day, from 2-5pm and 7pm to midnight.
Tony Visconti had been chosen by Bowie to produce the album, but had passed on the single. Therefore this marked the first proper session for the album. Three songs were worked on: ‘Janine’, ‘An Occasional Dream’, and ‘Letter To Hermione’.
The primary session musicians on the album were guitarists Mick Wayne and Tim Renwick, bassist John ‘Honk’ Lodge, and drummer John Cambridge. With singer Graham Kelly they were the band Junior’s Eyes, who had appeared on the same bill as Bowie at a number of shows in 1969.
‘An Occasional Dream’ was one of two songs on the album on which Visconti played bass guitar, the other being ‘Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud’.
I must confess that my work was naive (bordering on sloppy) on this album. It was my second album production, and I really didn’t know too much about the quality control of sound and how to turbo-charge the sound of instruments for rock – I always left it up to the engineer, and this young Visconti couldn’t attract or afford the talents of the Geoff Emerick or Glyn Johns yet. I am, however, proud of several tracks where I felt more comfortable in my capacity of bass player and recorder player, as in ‘Letter To Hermione’ and ‘An Occasional Dream’.
The song also featured a jazz drummer whose name was not documented.
We can’t remember the drummer’s name on this, he was an older jazz musician and I don’t know how we came to meet him. It could’ve been through an agency. He was a good drummer, but he counted off in a military squadron sergeant’s voice (as in ‘hup-two-three-four’) which set us giggling before one take and he knew we were laughing at him. Let us just say we never really bonded. I played bass and recorders along with Tim Renwick who also played the clarinet. It’s lovely when you discover that a rock guitarist like Tim also studied ‘serious music’ and could read off a written page. Tim also played guitar and David is on 12-string.
Five Years (1969-1973) book
The album sessions continued the following day, but Bowie’s trip to Malta meant that there were no others until 5 August.
Also on this day...
- 1974: Live: Music Hall, Boston, Massachusetts
- 1973: Recording: The Man Who Sold The World by Lulu
- 1972: Press conference: Dorchester Hotel, London
- 1968: Screen test: The Virgin Soldiers
- 1966: Live: David Bowie and the Buzz, Club One-O-One, Brighton
Want more? Visit the David Bowie history section.