The recording took place at Château d’Hérouville in northern France, during a break in the Pin Ups sessions.
The performers were Bowie on vocals and saxophone, guitarist Mick Ronson, bassist Trevor Bolder, drummer Aynsley Dunbar, and keyboard player Mike Garson. ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ was recorded in one take, and ‘Watch That Man’ in two.
Bowie sang a guide vocal on ‘The Man Who Sold The World’. Lulu’s final lead vocals were laid down at Morgan Studios in London at a later date.
Bowie’s producer Ken Scott was not contracted to work on the Lulu songs, and his manager advised him not to be present for her sessions. Bowie and Ronson produced the recordings, with in-house engineer Andy Scott manning the board.
It was a really ridiculous situation where we’d put down a track for Pin Ups, I’d have all the sounds together, then Lulu would walk in and I would walk out. Everything was already set and they didn’t have to do anything except press the record button, but that’s what I was instructed to do. Because of all the legal wrangling going on, I had to follow instructions. Nearly every time Lulu came in over the next couple of days, I had to go.
Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust
Bowie overdubbed saxophone onto ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ and oversaw the mixing during the Diamond Dogs sessions at Olympic Studios in England in early January 1974, just days before its release.
Lulu is such a bright, funny and talented little thing. When I first heard her version of ‘Shout’ I was initially gobsmacked that anybody British had the nerve to cover that Isley Brothers classic. Then I realised that she had actually done a great job with it. How the idea came up for having her do a version of ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ I have no clue, but I’m so glad we did it. I used the Pin Ups line-up to back her, including Ronson and drummer Aynsley Dunbar, and played the sax section on overdubs. I still have a very soft spot for that version, though to have the same song covered by both Lulu and Nirvana still bemuses me to this day.
Lulu’s rendition was released as a single on 11 January 1974, the day after she performed it on the BBC’s Top Of The Pops. The single, which had another Bowie cover, ‘Watch That Man’, on the b-side, reached number three on the UK singles chart.
Also on this day...
- 1997: Live: Velodromo De Anoeta, San Sebastián
- 1996: Live: Rotterdam Ahoy, Rotterdam
- 1990: Live: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale
- 1983: Live: Civic Center, Hartford
- 1974: Live: Music Hall, Boston, Massachusetts
- 1972: Press conference: Dorchester Hotel, London
- 1969: Recording: Janine, An Occasional Dream, Letter To Hermione
- 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.