Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles '74)Recorded: 5 September 1974
Producer: David Bowie

Released: 22 April 2017


David Bowie: vocals, guitar, harmonica
Earl Slick, Carlos Alomar: guitar
Mike Garson: piano, Mellotron
David Sanborn, Richard Grando: saxophone, flute
Doug Raunch: bass guitar
Greg Enrico: drums
Pablo Rosario: conga
Warren Peace, Anthony Hinton, Luther Vandross, Ava Cherry, Diane Sumler, Robin Clark: vocals


Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles ’74) is a live album by David Bowie, recorded during the second leg of the Diamond Dogs Tour in 1974, and released posthumously in 2017.

In Los Angeles

Bowie kicked off the second stage of the Diamond Dogs Tour with seven consecutive nights at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, from 2-8 September 1974.

This was during a transitional phase for Bowie. He had begun recording Young Americans at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia the previous month, and the title track and the revamped ‘John, I’m Only Dancing (Again)’ were brought in to the live set, the latter song as an encore.

Bowie’s new direction was reflected in his touring band’s line-up. In came guitarist Carlos Alomar, who would stay with Bowie into the 1980s. He was also joined by backing singers including Luther Vandross and Ava Cherry, and sax and flautists David Sanborn and Richard Grando.

Bowie told his manager Tony Defries that he wished to ditch the elaborate Hunger City staging of the earlier tour, to focus on his new soul direction. Defries reluctantly agreed, though he persuaded Bowie to retain the old set for the LA dates, which were sure to receive much media attention.

An extra reason for retaining the set was the arrival of a BBC crew led by producer/director Alan Yentob, who was making a documentary on Bowie. The result was Cracked Actor, first shown on 26 January 1975 as part of the corporation’s Omnibus strand.

Defries also wanted Ava Cherry to work on her solo album in New York, but Bowie insisted she accompany him on tour. Vandross also helped augment the line-up of backing singers.

I had a little group at that time and I brought two of the singers [Diane Sumler and Anthony Hinton] with me. It was the group that ended up being ‘Luther’ on Atlantic Records. I told Bowie I wouldn’t leave my group at home to go on the road, so he said, “Well, bring them because I really want you.”
Luther Vandross
The Black Collegian, February 1982

Guests at the Los Angeles shows included Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Neil Diamond, John Denver, and Marc Bolan. Jackson was particularly impressed by Toni Basil’s choreography, and invited Bowie for dinner at the Jackson family home.

I was taught a ‘backwards walk’ by Toni Basil who worked with and choreographed ‘The Lockers’, one of the first black street-dance troups in the US (circa 1970). It was basically the ‘Marcel Marceau’ walk but propelled backwards. It didn’t have a name at that time, of course. Just ‘the backwards walk’ thing. She’d devised it with them and taught it to me for the Diamond Dogs show. MJ and brothers came to see my LA Diamond Dog show with Diana Ross in 1974 and then some of us were invited back to have dinner at the Jackson house with themselves and Mr and Mrs.J. Michael, who would have been around 15 or 16 at the time, spent much of the evening asking me about the production and how we built the city and where the ideas came from for all the different visuals etc. It’s entirely possible that he copped the walk fourth hand so to speak. I believe the nature of the show made a big impression on him.
David Bowie message board, 2 August 2003
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