David Bowie’s father dies

David Bowie’s father, Haywood Stenton ‘John’ Jones, died on 5 August 1969.

I could never, ever talk to my father. I really loved him, but we couldn’t talk about anything together. There was this really British thing that being even remotely emotional was absolutely verboten…

I would go back when I wanted washing done. I never went back with a need to see them. I really felt like a user, which, of course, brought loads of regrets when my father died, in 1968 [sic]. It was at a point where I was just beginning to grow up a little bit and appreciate that I would have to stretch out my hand a little for us ever to get to know each other. He just died at the wrong damn time, because there were so many things I would love to have said to him and asked him about – all those stereotypical regrets when your father dies and you haven’t completed your relationship. I felt so… ‘Damn! Wrong time! Not now, not now!’

David Bowie
Interview magazine, May 1993

Jones had worked as a promotions officer for the children’s charity Barnardo’s. He died of pneumonia at the family home, 4 Plaistow Grove in Bromley, and was buried at Elmers End Cemetery on 11 August.

David again telephoned me, this time to tell me that his father had just died. He was worried how his mother was going to cope with the situation, but the next day, when I went to see them, she was bravely composed. They asked me to help them in sorting out Mr Jones’s papers, particularly those of immediate import, such as insurance policies, but when David and I went to the small bureau where they were kept we found that the job had already been done. Always well organised and fastidiously tidy Haywood Jones had left everything ready to hand, as if he knew that his end was nigh.

The problem of what to do with his dentures provided a little light relief and when David asked me what should be done with them I suggested that if they were National Health teeth perhaps they ought to go back to the government. Laughing for the first time in days he wrapped them in newspaper and threw them in the dustbin.

Kenneth Pitt
The Pitt Report
Last updated: 22 March 2023
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