Before recording

In April 1975, Bowie visited Iggy Pop at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. Pop had self-admitted to the facility as a voluntary patient, after being given a ‘jail or rehab’ ultimatum by the LAPD.

I was in a mental hospital and he happened to be there for another reason. And he came up one day, stoned out of his brain in his little space-suit, with Dean Stockwell the actor. They were like, ‘We want to see Jimmy. Let us in’. Now the strict rule was to never let outsiders in: it was an insane asylum. But the doctors were star-struck, so they let them in. And the first thing they did was say, ‘Hey, want some blow?’ They tried to give me drugs. I think I took a little, which is really unpleasant in there.
Iggy Pop
A Part Ça, Canal+, 1997

Pop checked himself out of the institute shortly afterwards, and Bowie persuaded him to record some demos at Oz Studios in Hollywood. They taped several songs together, after which Bowie recorded a new song of his own, the unreleased ‘Moving On’. It was reportedly largely improvised, with Bowie accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, and remains unreleased.

After finishing work on The Man Who Fell To Earth in the summer of 1975, David Bowie returned to Los Angeles to begin planning the follow up to Young Americans.

Before the sessions began, though, he took part in several collaborations. In early September he dropped in on a Keith Moon session at LA’s Clover Studios, where The Who’s drummer was recording his second solo album. Bowie guested on the song ‘Real Emotion’, produced by Steve Cropper.

David Bowie came in to do backing vocals. Bowie’s entourage looked like a casting call for a circus movie – a pretty freaky-looking crowd that filled up the entire control room. David was very fast at composing and singing and I don’t remember producer Cropper adding anything to Bowie’s ideas – Crop sat back and enjoyed.

At one point Bowie asked “to ADT his voice” and Cropper turned to me to see if I knew what that was. So I had the satisfaction of being the only person in the control room knowing what he meant. ADT or artificial double tracking (also called automatic double tracking) was a tape recording trick developed in England for the Beatles and used subsequently by others. Apparently it was typical ‘du jour’ for Bowie recording sessions at that time. Clover had an old Revox reel-to-reel machine that I managed to get going at 60ips for a faux version of ADT that was OK with David.

On 8 September Bowie and Geoff MacCormack attended Peter Sellers’ 50th birthday party, where he played saxophone in an ad hoc band also featuring Joe Cocker, Bill Wyman, Ronnie Wood, Jesse Ed Davis, Bobby Keys, Keith Moon and others. The event was photographed by Terry O’Neill.

Neither David nor any of the other musicians seemed to be playing the same songs and they made such a racket it disturbed the neighbours. The police were called and Keith Moon, of all people, tried to politely reason with them whilst they threatened to arrest Sellers. Sellers didn’t say a word: he just looked bemused by it all.
Geoff MacCormack
Station To Station: Travels With Bowie 1973-76

Perhaps the highest profile public appearance in this period was for the Cher television show. On 18 September Bowie was Cher’s guest, and performed ‘Fame’ and two duets: ‘Can You Hear Me’, and a ‘Young Americans’ medley which also contained snippets of ‘Song Sung Blue’, ‘One’, ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’, ‘Wedding Bell Blues’, ‘Maybe Maybe Baby’, ‘Day Tripper’, ‘Blue Moon’, ‘Only You (And You Alone)’, ‘Temptation’, ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’, and ‘Young Blood’.

The appearance was broadcast on CBS in America on 23 November 1975.

I’d got this thing in my mind that I was through with theatrical clothes and I would only wear Sears & Roebuck, which on me looked more outlandish than anything I had made by Japanese designers. They were just like this middle America dogged provincialism. They were loud check jackets and check trousers. I looked very bad. And very ill.
David Bowie
Q magazine, October 1999

Bowie and his band – guitarists Carlos Alomar and Earl Slick, bassist George Murray, and drummer Dennis Davis – undertook two weeks of rehearsals before entering the studio.