Liza Jane single – United KingdomWritten by: Leslie Conn
Recorded: May 1964
Producer: Leslie Conn

Released: 5 June 1964

David Bowie: vocals, saxophone
George Underwood: guitar, harmonica, vocals
Roger Bluck: guitar
Francis Howard: bass guitar
Bob Allen: drums

Available on:
Nothing Has Changed

David Bowie’s first-ever record release, ‘Liza Jane’, was issued in 1964 and credited to Davie Jones with the King Bees.

The single was released on Decca Records’ subsidiary label Vocalion Pop, with the catalogue number V.9221. Its b-side was ‘Louie, Louie Go Home’.

Both songs had been recorded earlier in 1964, during a seven-hour session at Decca Studios in West Hampstead, London.

Although ‘Liza Jane’ was an R&B adaptation of an old blues standard, the songwriting was credited to Leslie Conn, a Decca talent scout and effectively Bowie’s then manager. Conn also took the producer’s credit.

It was an old Negro spiritual that we played around with. I don’t know how he came to put his name on it.
George Underwood
The Complete David Bowie, Nicholas Pegg

‘Liza Jane’ was reviewed positively by the UK music weeklies New Musical Express, Record Mirror, and Record Retailer, and was played on the pirate station Radio Luxembourg.

The single was released on 5 June 1964. The following day it was one of the songs featured on BBC television’s Juke Box Jury, where it was deemed a ‘miss’ by all but one of the studio judges. Bowie was present in the studio, and was briefly shown reacting to the verdict. This was his first television appearance.

On 19 June, Davie Jones with the King Bees appeared on the ITV show Ready, Steady, Go!, performing ‘Liza Jane’ before the studio audience. The band also appeared on the BBC Two’s The Beat Room on 27 July.

The song was not a commercial success, and failed to chart. Following Bowie’s ascent to global superstardom, the single became highly sought after among record collectors.

When David and I parted company I went off to live and work in Majorca for a few years. One day I was on the phone to my mother and she said, ‘What shall I do with those records I have in the garage?’, which were a few hundred copies of ‘Liza Jane’. So I replied, ‘Throw them out,’ and she did.
Leslie Conn, 1997
The Complete David Bowie, Nicholas Pegg

By August 1964 Bowie had left the King Bees and moved on to the Manish Boys, who performed ‘Liza Jane’ for a time during their live sets.

Decca reissued ‘Liza Jane’ in 1978, yet it was barely more successful than in 1964. It also appeared on the 1991 compilation Early On (1964–1966), and on the 2005 various artists collection And The Beat Goes On.

Bowie re-recorded ‘Liza Jane’ during the sessions for his unreleased Toy sessions in 2000. The full album leaked online in 2011.

The song was also unexpectedly revived by Bowie on 5 June 2004 during a show at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey. This was the 40th anniversary year of the song’s release, and the final US date of A Reality Tour.

In 2014 ‘Liza Jane’ was included as the final song on the three-CD edition of Bowie’s compilation Nothing Has Changed.