David Bowie parties in Los Angeles

David Bowie went to two Valentine’s Day parties in Los Angeles on 14 February 1971.

He was in the city as part of his month-long promotional tour of the USA, which began on 23 January.

Earlier in the day he jammed with Rolling Stone reporter John Mendelssohn’s band Christopher Milk at A&M Studios in Hollywood. Bowie watched the band play before joining in on a version of the Velvet Underground’s ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’.

In the evening he first went to a party at the home of US lawyer Paul Feigen. Bowie gave his first performance since arriving in America, sitting on a waterbed while wearing a Mr Fish dress. He performed ‘All The Madmen’, ‘Space Oddity’, ‘Amsterdam’, and ‘Hang On To Yourself’.

Later on he attended another party, this time hosted by socialite Dianne Bennett. The guest of honour was Ultra Violet, a member of Andy Warhol’s circle. DJ Rodney Bingenheimer recorded the performance, which was partly played on his radio show in the 1990s.

In early 1971, I was working for Mercury Records in LA and took Bowie around Hollywood. We stayed at my friend Tom Ayres’ house. I remember Gene Vincent being there and Bowie writing the lyrics for ‘Hang On To Yourself’ and talking about the Ziggy character. He was talking about making it into a stage play. I think LA was a culture shock for Bowie. His mind was blown, everything was so big and bright. But it was a culture shock for others, too, because he was wearing a dress, the same one from the cover of The Man Who Sold The World. One party was at Dianne Bennett’s house and Ultra Violet was there, in a milk bath. Bowie sat on the bed and played stuff from Hunky Dory and Ziggy on acoustic guitar. Everyone loved it.
Rodney Bingenheimer
Uncut, March 2008

Bowie remained in Los Angeles for three more days before flying back to London on 18 February. During his stay in the city he also saw Biff Rose perform, visited the radio stations KMAC, KYMS, and CIMS, went clubbing at the Topanga Canyon Corral.

Last updated: 4 April 2023
Travel: San Francisco to Los Angeles
Travel: Los Angeles to London
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