Pin Ups album coverWritten by: Jimmy Duncan, Bill Farley
Recorded: July 1973
Producers: Ken Scott, David Bowie
Engineer: Dennis MacKay

Released: 19 October 1973

Available on:
Pin Ups

Personnel

David Bowie: vocals
Mick Ronson: guitar
Trevor Bolder: bass guitar
Aynsley Dunbar: drums, shaker

‘Rosalyn’, the opening track on David Bowie’s seventh album Pin Ups, was originally released in 1964 as the debut single by the Pretty Things.

The song was written by Jimmy Duncan, the Pretty Things’ co-manager at the time, and studio owner and producer Bill Farley. The band’s version was released in May 1964, and peaked at number 41 on the UK singles chart in July.

Bowie was an avowed fan of the Pretty Things, and regularly watched them perform at the Marquee Club in London in the mid-Sixties.

He was always there, wanting to talk music. I remember a funny incident when Dave came backstage and asked for my home phone number. I didn’t want everyone to hear it, so I took the address book out of his hand to write it down. I couldn’t help noticing that in the left-hand column, where my name should have been, he’d written in ‘God’.
Phil May, the Pretty Things
Loving The Alien, Christopher Sandford

‘Liza Jane’, Bowie’s first single with the King Bees, was a clear approximation of the Pretty Things’ raw R&B, while his next band, the Manish Boys, performed a version of Jimmy Reed’s ‘Big Boss Man’, which had been the b-side of the Pretty Things’ ‘Rosalyn’ single.

Furthermore, he recorded two Pretty Things songs for Pin Ups, the other being a version of their biggest hit ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’.

The Pretty Things were marked in several of Bowie’s song titles, the earliest being 1971’s ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’. The first Tin Machine album contained ‘Pretty Thing’, while 1999’s ‘hours…’ had ‘The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell’ – combining references to the 1960s band, Bowie’s 1971 song, and the Stooges’ ‘Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell’.

Obviously, I’m aware of those… I think these are tough times. It’s a tough period to live in. And I was thinking of that Evelyn Waugh idea of the bright young things, the pretty things… I think their day is numbered. So I thought, well, let’s close them off. They wore it well but they did wear themselves out, y’know, there’s not much room for that now. It’s a very serious little world.
David Bowie
Uncut, October 1999

There were other links. The Hooker Brothers was an early trio fronted by Bowie in 1963, with George Underwood on guitar and the Pretty Things’ future drummer Viv Andrews – who played on the ‘Rosalyn’ single.

Bowie’s 1977 song ‘Sons Of The Silent Age’ mentions two made-up musical acts, Sam Therapy and King Dice, which later became genuine bands. Sam Therapy was formed in the 1980s by Brian Pendleton, the Pretty Things’ original rhythm guitarist.

I’ve got all these records back at home, but we don’t have them here or anything. We just took down the basic chord structures and worked from there. Some of them don’t even need any working on – like ‘Rosalyn’ for example. But most of the arranging I have done by myself and Mick… and Aynsley too.
David Bowie
Sounds, 5 August 1973

New Zealand single

Bowie’s version of ‘Rosalyn’ was released by RCA as a fan club single in New Zealand in November 1973, with ‘Where Have All The Good Times Gone’ on the b-side.

The promotional single was contained in a fold-up sleeve which included a mail order form for Pin Ups at a discounted price. The release was described as a “7” sampler record”, and each of the songs was interrupted three times by a DJ named “Tim” who attempted to persuade the listener to buy the full album.

Dear Member

Here is a FREE Complimentary Single Play Disc of DAVID BOWIE which is yours to keep! The tracks are from his biggest selling LP to date – “Pin Ups”, on which we are making a special offer to you as a privileged Club member. The full story is on the record itself, give it a spin – listen to these two fabulous cuts and the super deal we have going for you – you’ll be glad you did!

New Zealand ‘Rosalyn’ sleeve notes

Lyrics

Hey Rosalyn, tell me where you’ve been
Hey Rosalyn, tell me where you’ve been
All the night and all the day
High risk is the game you play
Treat me sure a sin

Oh Rosalyn, yeah Rosalyn

Hey Rosalyn, you’re the girl for me
Hey Rosalyn, you’re the girl for me
When I’m holding you so tight
It’s so hard to say goodnight
It’s you that I love now can’t you see?

Do you really love me, do you love me true
Do you really love me Rosalyn?
Yeah gotta know, yeah gotta know
Yeah gotta know Rosalyn

Hey Rosalyn, you’re the girl for me
Hey Rosalyn, you’re the girl for me
When I’m holding you so tight
It’s so hard to say goodnight
It’s you that I love now can’t you see?

Do you really love me, do you love me true
Do you really love me Rosalyn?
Yeah gotta know, yeah gotta know
Yeah gotta know Rosalyn
Yeah gotta know, yeah gotta know
Yeah gotta know Rosalyn
Rosalyn
Yeah Rosalyn, Rosalyn, Rosalyn, Rosalyn, hoo-yeah, ah

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