Recording: John, I’m Only Dancing

David Bowie and the Spiders From Mars record ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’ on 26 June 1972.

An initial session two days previously had proved unsatisfactory, so Bowie and the band re-recorded the song on this day. The session took place at London’s Olympic Sound Studios with Bowie producing and Keith Harwood engineering.

Nine takes were recorded, one of which was chosen for the band’s next single.

The Spiders From Mars were joined by violinist Lindsay Scott, whose instrument can be heard at the end of each chorus. Scott was a member of the band JSD, who often opened for Bowie during the early Ziggy Stardust Tour dates.

The handclaps, meanwhile, were recorded in the studio hallway to achieve the desired echo effect.

While we were in the US our new single, ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’, was slowly climbing the charts back in the UK. We’d spent a few days in Olympic Studios, London, back in June, recording it. I was particularly proud of my tom-tom fills which definitely added dynamics to the arrangement. We were all in the studio recording backing vocals for the song when Rod Stewart and the Faces burst in through one of the doors. They were dancing about and singing ‘la, la, las’ until everybody cracked up laughing. Then one of them said, ‘See ya later’, and they exited through one of the other doors as quickly as they’d arrived.
Woody Woodmansey
Spider from Mars: My Life with Bowie
Last updated: 18 April 2023
Live: Greyhound, Croydon
Recording: Starman
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