In the studio

‘Andy Warhol’ was segued from the final, looped saxophone note from ‘Fill Your Heart’, which gave way to Trident’s ARP synthesizer and a conversation between David Bowie and producer Ken Scott.

The lead into ‘Andy Warhol’ was set up using five individual repeat echoes on David’s last sax note and the synth underneath was just something I got up on Trident’s ARP 2500. The talking was the exchange between David and I leading into the first take of ‘Andy Warhol’ and was edited onto the final master take, which was something like take four or five.
Ken Scott, May 2015
Five Years (1969-1973) book

The juddering rendering of the two men’s speech was caused by Scott’s experimentation with the playback machines.

We move on and start to record a song called ‘Andy Warhol’. I, being the well-trained EMI engineer, slated the song and David corrects me on the pronunciation (‘It’s Andy War-hole, as in hole’). During the eventual playback I started to mess around and switch between sel-sync and playback on the tape machine so there were time jumps in the dialogue and everyone said, ‘That’s cool. We’ve gotta keep it.’ Thus we kept that entire talking part in the beginning of the song, though that wasn’t the take of the actual song that we ended up using. When it came time to mix, I programmed some stuff on Trident’s ARP synthesizer and that was cross-faded from the track before into the talking bit of ‘Andy Warhol’ to make a seamless bridge.
Ken Scott
Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust

‘Andy Warhol’ features just Bowie and Mick Ronson, plus Ken Scott’s synth in the introduction. The central guitar riff is notably similar to that of Ron Davies’ 1970 song ‘Silent Song Through the Land’.

We did live versions of the song with drums, bass and guitar and it was much heavier. But on the recorded version it didn’t need all that. The song had enough rhythm in it that it didn’t need much more.
Woody Woodmansey
Kooks, Queen Bitches And Andy Warhol, Ken Sharp

The handclaps were recorded in the toilet at Trident Studios, as was the applause at the song’s end.

We weren’t above trying anything to get the right effect so we recorded the claps in the small studio toilet.
Ken Scott, May 2015
Five Years (1969-1973) book

An early mix of ‘Andy Warhol’ was included on BOWPROMO, a promotional disc of works-in-progress from Hunky Dory, of which Bowie’s manager privately pressed 500 copies. One side was Bowie’s recordings, while the other was of Dana Gillespie’s – and included her version of ‘Andy Warhol’.

Bowie’s side ends with ‘Bombers’, which didn’t make it onto Hunky Dory. At the song’s end a different mix of synth noises and Bowie and Scott’s exchange prior to ‘Andy Warhol’ can be heard. It ends with a slightly longer laugh from Bowie and a single acoustic guitar chord.

BBC recordings

David Bowie recorded ‘Andy Warhol’ on four occasions for BBC radio.

The first was for In Concert, presented by John Peel. It was recorded on 3 June 1971 and broadcast on 20 June.

Bowie was joined by George Underwood, Dana Gillespie, and Geoff MacCormack on vocals. Each had a lead vocal spot, and all three shared the spotlight on ‘It Ain’t Easy’. ‘Andy Warhol’, meanwhile, was sung by Dana Gillespie.

The other three versions were all sung by Bowie. The next was for Sounds Of The 70s presented by Bob Harris, recorded on 21 September 1971 and broadcast on 4 October.

The session was a duet between Bowie and Mick Ronson. They performed seven songs: ‘The Supermen’, ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’/‘Eight Line Poem’, ‘Kooks’, ‘Fill Your Heart’, ‘Amsterdam’, and ‘Andy Warhol’.

The Peel and Harris version were both included on the 2022 box set Divine Symmetry.

The third rendition was again for Sounds Of The 70s, this time presented by John Peel. It was recorded on 23 May 1972 and broadcast on 19 June.

This session was with all four Spiders from Mars: Bowie, Ronson, Trevor Bolder, and Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey. They recorded four songs: ‘Andy Warhol’, ‘Lady Stardust’, ‘White Light/White Heat’, and ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide’. This version of ‘Andy Warhol’ was released on Bowie At The Beeb in September 2000.

The final BBC recording was made in November 1996 at SIR Studios in New York City, and broadcast on 8 January 1997. The show was ChangesNowBowie, and featured nine Bowie performances as part of a 50th birthday show on BBC Radio 1.

Bowie was accompanied by his touring band: Reeves Gabrels on guitar, Mike Garson on piano, Gail Ann Dorsey on bass guitar and vocals, and Zachary Alford on drums. They performed nine songs: ‘The Man Who Sold The World’, ‘The Supermen’, ‘Andy Warhol’, ‘Repetition’, ‘Lady Stardust’, ‘White Light/White Heat’, ‘Shopping For Girls’, ‘Quicksand’, and ‘Aladdin Sane’.

All nine performances were released on CD and vinyl on 29 August 2020 for Record Store Day, as ChangesNowBowie.

Previous song: ‘Fill Your Heart’
Next song: ‘Song For Bob Dylan’
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