BOWIE GOLDEN YEARS

1970  •  1971  •  1972  •  1973  •  1974  •  1975  •  1976  •  1977  •  1978  •  1979  •  1980

 SOUND  •  VISION  •  STAGE  •  FEATURES  •  PRESS ARCHIVE

January 1978

Bowie Now

promotional album released in US (RCA DJL1-2696)

Side one: V-2 Schneider 3:10 / Always Crashing In The Same Car 3:26 / Sons Of The Silent Age 3:15 / Breaking Glass 1:42 / Neuköln 4:34

Side two: Speed Of Life 2:45 / Joe The Lion 3:05 / What In The World 2:20 / Blackout 3:50/ Weeping Wall 3:25 / The Secret Life Of Arabia 3:46

Monday January 2

Angela Bowie returned to Switzerland with her friend, Heartbreakers soundman Keeth Paul, with whom she had stayed in New York. They arrived at Clos des Mésanges to find that Zowie and Marion Skene had gone.

Despondent and in need of cash, she called David Lewin, a journalist friend who contacted Sunday Mirror. The editor called her and agreed to send some cash over with a reporter and a photographer.

Friday January 6

Beauty And The Beast 3:29 / Sense Of Doubt 3:57
single released on RCA
UK, Germany, France, Belgium and Netherlands in picture sleeves (PB-1190)
Also released in US (PB-11190)
Chart peak UK 39

Beauty And The Beast 5:18 / Fame 4:12
Promotional 12-inch single with extended mix released in US (RCA JD-11204)

Saturday January 7

Sunday Mirror reporter Tony Robinson arrived at the Bowie house to find Angela groggy from sedatives, but ready to air her grievances, which were published the following day.

Sunday January 8

In the early hours of the morning Angie got up, panicking about what she'd done. She took an overdose of sleeping pills and went on a rampage, smashing up the house and attacking Keeth Paul with a rolling pin when he tried to calm her. She tried to stab herself with a carving knife, and finally passed out on the bed.

Later in the day, as Keeth Paul and Tony Robinson decided what to do, she roused herself and threw herself down the stairs, breaking her nose. They called the ambulance and accompanied her to the Samaritans Hospital.

“Bowie Rapped By His Missus” published in Sunday Mirror

Angie Bowie, wife of superstar David Bowie, is furious with her husband. She said angrily last night, “Without my knowledge he has taken our son to Berlin.”

Weeping in the lounge of their home in Switzerland, she told The Sunday Mirror of the latest conflict in her tempestuous marriage. She claimed that while she was staying with friends in New York, David telephoned the nanny of their six-year-old son Zowie and said: “Come to Berlin.” Angie said: “I found out when I got back. They went either by air or in the train.”

How did she think Zowie would cope with being looked after by his father?

“I'm sure he's perfectly all right,” she said. “David's a perfect father.”

Would she like to have Zowie back?

“You're absolutely right,” she told me. “That's why I want a divorce, to get custody of him. I have to seek a divorce… I really want David to suffer.” [257][Robinson, Tony. Bowie Rapped By His Missus (Sunday Mirror, 8 January 1978)]

Monday January 9

Bowie issued a statement from Berlin in response to Angie's allegations:

"My wife was not aware that my son was with me. A few days before Christmas she decided she would leave Switzerland and spend the holidays with friends elsewhere. From that day to her arrival back in 2 January, she didn't phone me or the boy to say where she was."

Angie was discharged from Samaritan's Hospital after making so much commotion that a woman in the next bed suffered a cardiac arrest relapse.

Thursday January 12

Marion Skene and Daniella Parmar, accompanied by Stuart George, returned Zowie to Angie in Switzerland.

Mid January

Filming: Just A Gigolo
Director: David Hemmings
Producer: Rolf Thiele

Shooting of Bowie's second feature film began, continuing until mid February at various locations including the Café Wien on the Kurfürstendamm in Berlin. Bowie spent the evenings working on his art, taking Polaroids of them to mount in a photo album.

Chris Hodenfield's report in Rolling Stone:

Outside an old-time transvestite bar, the Lützower Lampe, in a dressing room trailer, David Bowie sat and looked at pictures. His bicycle was in the trailer, too. A cassette played Vivaldi's Four Seasons. In his photo album there were snapshots of his recent paintings and woodcuts. Most were stark, howling messages, reminiscent of Twenties expressionism. A room with a table. There was a startling woodcut of an Argentine dancer. "Have I shown them?" he said, recoiling. "Never have, but I think I might be getting the confidence up again. That's a self-portrait," he said, turning over a snake-faced headshot. "That's Iggy, without his professor's glasses. That's his 'I just want to be taken seriously' look." Iggy, with parted hair, had a sad, up-from-under stare. [147][Hodenfield, Chris. Bad Boys In Berlin (Rolling Stone 301, 4 October 1979)]

February 1978

In between shooting Just A Gigolo scenes in the Café Wien, Bowie spoke with Michael Watts (Melody Maker):

Bowie: I'm finding it enthralling to be really getting into a person's flesh this time around. I really feel very much at home – with this character, being led and shown how to do it.

Michael Watts: Tell me how you got involved in the movie about Egon Schiele.

Bowie: It was originally suggested to me that I should play the part by Clive Donner, the guy who did The Caretaker and Mulberry Bush. He sent me the original script and I jumped at the idea of it, 'cause Schiele was somebody I was aware of. Wally is just a working title. It will go through the time from as he was leaving Klimt as a pupil and setting himself up as a painter, through his prison sentence and to the end of his relationship with his girlfriend, Wally. Charlotte Rampling is on the boards to play her at the moment. [308][Watts, Michael. Confession Of An Elitist (Melody Maker, 18 February 1978)

On the weekends, he travelled to Cologne where Brian Eno was producing Devo's debut album at Conrad Plank's studio.

Mark Mothersbaugh (2009): David Bowie still wanted to be involved and showed up every day on the weekends and hung out with us, and then bickered with Eno. [092][Collins, Dan. Devo: Gonna Be A Man From The Moon (LA Record, 4 November 2009)]

Jerry Casale (1978): We always had a desire to be produced by either Brian or David, or possibly both, and they both were, like, equal choices, and as its turned out were going to eventually have both of them. Out of anyone in the business they were obviously the closest to the devolved end of the scale. The sounds they achieved, the way they approached the art and, in the case of David, of course, his understanding of media and total image. There weren't too many choices. [057][Birch, Ian. (Melody Maker, 25 February 1978)]

Wednesday February 15

Eno called up Bowie in the morning from Cologne. He had been to Frank Zappa's concert the night before and was impressed by Zappa's guitarist Adrian Belew. Remembering that Bowie was looking for a lead guitarist for the upcoming tour, he told Bowie to check out the concert that night at the Deutschland Halle in Berlin.

Adrian Belew (2007): The following night David comes to the show, ostensibly to see me play. There is a break in the show where I normally leave the stage while Frank plays an extended guitar solo. As I'm leaving, I glance over to the monitor board. I'm shocked to see David Bowie and Iggy Pop! I walk over, shaking David's hand. I say, "I've always loved your music".

"Great", he says, "how'd you like to join my band?"

"Well, I'm playing with this guy right now..." I stammer, pointing to Frank.

"Yes, I know, but your tour ends in two weeks and mine begins two weeks later."

We agree to meet back at the hotel after the show. David and Coco tried to rendezvous with me without letting Frank know I was being wooed away from his band. We stepped into the hotel elevator when no one was around. Coco said, "We have a car out front. Well meet you there in ten minutes."

David wanted to take me to one of his favourite restaurants to discuss my future. So his driver set off with the three of us in the back. We pulled up to a nice looking restaurant and walked in. At the table right in front of us sat Frank and some of the band! David said, "Really enjoyed the show." Frank shot back, "Fuck you, Captain Tom." No matter what David tried, Frank kept saying, "Fuck you, Captain Tom." So we left the restaurant. Outside David said, "That went down rather well, didn't it?" [398][elephant-blog.blogspot.com – Anecdote #646 part 1 (Adrian Belew, 22 May 2007)]

Bowie continued planning the world tour and contacted Natasha Kornilof, who had designed several of his outfits over the years, to prepare some ideas. She flew to Berlin where Coco took her to see Bowie on location. After filming finished for the day, they returned to Bowie's hotel, and spent an hour scribbling costume design ideas on the backs of envelopes, which she took back to London to work on.

Natasha Kornilof (1984): We had torn bits out of magazines and we did small drawings and we had lots of ideas and wanted trousers that were kind of big and we also wanted to combine them with Hawaiian shirts that they used to wear in the Forties with strange prints on them? We had also seen a funny mess jacket in another photograph and I went off and combined the large trousers with the mess jacket. I made him a series of tracksuits in velour. I made a snakeskin jacket to go over the tracksuits. I made loads of things – corduroy suits, sailor suits and hats. [009][Currie, David. The Starzone Interviews (Omnibus Press, 1985)]

Photo session: Lord Snowdon photographed Bowie for a feature in British Vogue (published in September).

Monday February 20

Press: Dorchester Hotel, Mayfair

After Just A Gigolo wrapped, Bowie returned to Britain to announce the 1978 World Tour. During the stopover, Natasha Kornilof sent him designs for his stage costumes.

Natasha Kornilof (1986): I didn't see him but he tried it on and sent it back with messages like “more of this – one in red as well.” So I just got on with until eventually I was to fly to Dallas where they were rehearsing. [Juby, Kerry. In Other Words: David Bowie (Omnibus Press, 1986)]

Tuesday February 21

Tour plans were announced in the press, with Stacy Heydon still slated as lead guitarist, pending commitment from Adrian Belew, who played his last Zappa show on March 1.

Bowie flew to Kenya for another holiday before the tour.

March 1978

Isolar 2 – 1978 World Tour

David Bowie (vocals, keyboards)
Carlos Alomar (rhythm guitar, musical director)
Adrian Belew (lead guitar)
Dennis Davis (drums, percussion)
Simon House (electric violin)
Sean Mayes (piano, string ensemble)
George Murray (bass)
Roger Powell (keyboards, synthesisers)
(Dennis Garcia on November 11 and 14)
Tour Manager: Eric Barrett
Lighting conceived and designed by David Bowie and Eric Barrett
Sound and lights: Showco
Program design: Bowie
Produced in association with Winterland Productions
Costume design: Natasha Kornilof
Stage Manager: Rob Joyce
Road crew: Jan Michael Alejandro, Vern “Moose” Constan, Leroy Kerr, Edd Kolakowski

Songs performed:

Warszawa / Heroes / What In The World / Be My Wife / The Jean Genie / Blackout / Sense Of Doubt / Speed Of Life / Breaking Glass / Beauty And The Beast / Fame / Five Years / Soul Love / Star / Hang On To Yourself / Ziggy Stardust / Suffragette City / Rock 'N' Roll Suicide / Art Decade / Station To Station / Stay / TVC 15 / Rebel Rebel / Alabama Song / Sound And Vision

Monday March 13 – Saturday March 25

Dallas
Rehearsals: Isolar 2 World Tour

With Bowie still away, his new tour band began rehearsals in a large windowless warehouse on a freeway 15 miles outside of Dallas.

Carlos Alomar, resuming his role as bandleader, took the band through the set list, handing out chord charts to the musicians, four of which were new to the material.

Adrian Belew, fresh from his tour with Frank Zappa, had signed up as Stacy Heydon's replacement. Bowie's first choice for lead guitarist had been Robert Fripp, but he had baulked at the prospect of a five-month tour. He told Bowie, "I don't think you have the room to give me.”

Eno declined to join for the same reason, telling ZigZag, “I gave it some serious consideration. I don't like doing gigs very much, but I think there are a few people I'd like to do them with, and he's one of them. But the trouble was he was talking about a long tour … it would mean that I wouldn't be able to work again till the summer.” [051][Baker, Danny and Needs, Kris. An Interview With Brian Eno (ZigZag, January 1978)]

Bowie later added, “He'd love to have done this tour but he's not strong enough. Both his lungs collapsed on tour once – he just couldn't have taken this.”

Eno recommended Roger Powell, whom Bowie knew from his work with Todd Rundgren's Utopia. Powell was technically, as well as musically, adept having recently developed one of the first polyphonic synthesisers.

Bowie had known violinist Simon House since the early days in London, when he played in High Tide with Tony Hill, who had briefly played with Bowie (and Hermione Farthingale) in Turquoise / Feathers in 1968. House later played with Hawkwind until Bowie called him to join the tour.

Sean Mayes (1999): David had chosen us for our individual abilities and didn't really interfere with us much. So the music found its own level and became very much the bands music played in our own way. [022][Mayes, Sean. Life On Tour With David Bowie: We Can Be Heroes (Independent Music Press, 1999)]

Adrian Belew (1999): He gave me full rein to be his guitarist and to add a lot of colours and sounds; to play solos and to be involved in the shape and form of the music itself. [004][Buckley, David. Strange Fascination (Virgin, 2005)]

Sean Mayes (1985): He told me later on the tour, “I'm very suspicious of virtuosity. I like people who play with an original style and I choose people who I think can contribute something.” [009][Currie, David. The Starzone Interviews (Omnibus Press, 1985)]

Carlos Alomar (1999): That was a wonderful band. You wouldn't normally find a band that would have a violin player, a lead guitar player, a synth player and a piano player – these are all soloist instruments. [004][Buckley, David. Strange Fascination (Virgin, 2005)]

“Bowie is uncanny in his ability to pick musicians,” Variety later commented.

Wednesday March 15

Following his return from Kenya, Bowie spent the day in London, flew Concorde from Heathrow to join the band in Dallas. He arrived at Dallas airport in the afternoon and called in at the rehearsal studio to say hello.

Although tired from the 11,000-mile flight from Kenya (via London), he was healthy and tanned. Excited by the prospect of playing live again with a new band, Bowie jumped onstage to run through some songs. Eventually Coco took him away to preserve his voice.

Thursday March 16

Rehearsals with Bowie got properly underway in sessions from 10am to 8 or 9pm. With only two weeks to prepare, there was much work to be done with four musicians learning 30-40 songs. Early on, Bowie announced, “Let's do the whole Ziggy Stardust album – that'll surprise them!” After learning all of the songs, they ended up doing only six.

Natasha Kornilof arrived on the Easter weekend with two suitcases of stage outfits for Bowie to try. That night they all went out to a French restaurant where everyone except Kornilof ordered snails and fell ill.

Friday March 17

Kornilof and Bowie decided on the final selections, including a snakeskin jacket, a double-breasted mess jacket they had seen in a magazine cutting combined with large trousers. On the night, Bowie would select one or two different combinations from a large wardrobe.

Natasha Kornilof (1984): His favourite combination was the white trousers with the snakeskin jacket. The cut of the trousers was based on Jacobean breeche's but I made them in white drill and down to the ankles. [009][Currie, David. The Starzone Interviews (Omnibus Press, 1985)]

Towards the end of the rehearsals Bowie's voice was fatigued, so the last few days were spent going through the set so the crew could devise the lighting for the show.

Saturday March 25

Melody Maker announced that Devo were confirmed to sign a contract with Warner Bros and would tour UK in June, and were “likely to support Bowie on several British dates”.

Saturday March 25

After the Showco trucks left for San Diego to set up for the first concert, Bowie and the band spent the evening at a bowling alley. Bowie was playing pool and chalking his cue asked a local about the rules. Looking as ordinary as he did, Bowie spent the evening untroubled by the unsuspecting Texans – a far cry from the Houston local who pulled a gun on him in 1971.

Monday March 27

Bowie and the band flew to San Diego where they had two days for rest and last minute preparations for the opening show of the tour.

Natasha Kornilof spent the time finishing off the sewing of the outfits on a machine delivered to Tony Mascia's room at the hotel. The company rep began to explain the workings of the machine until Mascia became impatient, picking up the man by the shoulders and placing him outside the door.

Bowie told the Chicago Tribune that the shows would be “low profile, nothing very dramatic visually. No characters. I've finished with characters. Now it's just me.” He was asked whether the rampant egomania that characterised his time in Los Angeles was still a problem:

“Good Lord, I hope not. But I think youd have to ask the people around me. The fact that they're still with me would, I hope, mean that I've lost a lot of that. But it built up to quite a pitch when I was living in Los Angeles, its true. It was completely my own fault, though it would have been hard to avoid it, given the conditions of that kind of cocooning. Breaking out, breaking off – it was hard. But getting out was the best thing I did. Getting out and trying to realise another kind of existence in another environment. I have no fixed address. I never intend to. I think it would be ruinous to the kind of songwriting I do, which is intrinsically change.” [300][Van Matre, Lynn. Bowie Alters Courses But Majors In Music (Chicago Tribune, 9 April 1978)]

Wednesday March 29

Live: Sports Arena, San Diego

Mayes (1999): You open a tour generally at a place not too big and famous, so we had about three or four gigs before the first biggy, which was Los Angeles, but nonetheless it was big – it was 15,000 people in a big stadium. We were all very keyed up for it. [022][Mayes, Sean. Life On Tour With David Bowie: We Can Be Heroes (Independent Music Press, 1999)]

After pre-show nerves all round, the first show of the tour went without a hitch and the ecstatic capacity crowd of 15,000 brought them back for two encores. Fans followed them back to the hotel where the band had joined the hotel band onstage in the bar.

Thursday March 30

Live: Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Phoenix

Friday March 31

Still in Phoenix, the band spent their day off lounging around the hotel pool, then dinner at a Japanese restaurant.

April 1978

Saturday April 1

In a statement published in Melody Maker, Richard Branson said that Devo had signed with Virgin, not Warner Brothers as reported. He added that Brian Eno had produced the album and had agreed to pay the recording costs. Prior to this, it was thought that Bowie's production company had signed the band and paid for the recording.

Sunday April 2

Live: Convention Center, Fresno

Monday April 3

Live: The Forum, Inglewood

After the show, two limos ferried the entourage to the Rainbow Club on Sunset, where Bowie held court at a large corner table.

Tuesday April 4

Live: The Forum, Inglewood

Wednesday April 5

Live: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland

Thursday April 6

Live: The Forum, Inglewood

After the show, Bowie held a party at Ma Maison restaurant on Melrose Avenue. Bowie provided limos for all the guests, including Nic Roeg, Si Litvinoff, Alan Bates, Jacqueline Bisset, Tom Waits, Bette Midler and Mark Rydell who was directing Midler in The Rose.

Friday April 7

In the afternoon Bowie and the band attended a party at tour manager Eric Barrett's house in the canyon. Barrett was an expatriate Scot who had settled in Los Angeles and worked with a succession of high profile west coast artists such as James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt. Later in the evening they all crowded around a television to watch the coverage of the Forum show.

David Bowie Narrates Prokofiev's Peter And The Wolf

Album released on RCA Red Seal (ARL1-2743).
pressed on translucent green vinyl

Side one: Peter And The Wolf, Op. 67 27:08
Side two: Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra, Op. 34 17:10

Produced by Jay David Saks
Engineered by Paul Goodman

Recorded with Eugene Ormandy and The Philadelphia Orchestra
at RCA Studio B in New York, December 1977
Art Director: JJ Stelmach
Art by Jeffrey Schrier
Cover photo by Tom Kelley

Reissued on CD:
• RCA Red Seal 1984
• RCA Gold Seal 1992
• RCA Victor 2004

Saturday April 8

After a five-hour flight the entourage arrived in Houston.

Sunday April 9

Live: The Summit, Houston

Monday April 10

Live: Convention Center, Dallas

In the morning Bowie and the entourage flew back to Dallas, this time staying at the upmarket Fairmont (as opposed to last months functional hotel on the edge of town). Before the show they celebrated Pat Gibbons birthday backstage.

RCA filmed the concert for broadcast as David Bowie On Stage (US):
What In The World Blackout Sense Of Doubt Speed Of Life Hang On To Yourself Ziggy Stardust
Four of the songs broadcast on Old Grey Whistle Test February 27, 1979 (UK)

Tuesday April 11

Live: Louisiana State University Assembly Center, Baton Rouge

Wednesday April 12

Travelling via Atlanta to Adrian Belew's hometown, Nashville. With a night off before the next concert, Belew suggested they go out to Fanny's, the club where Frank Zappa had discovered him.

Thursday April 13

Live: Municipal Auditorium, Nashville

After a subdued show, Bowie and the band returned to the bar at the Hilton, then dined at a Thirties themed restaurant.

Friday April 14

Live: Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis

Saturday April 15

Live: Municipal Auditorium, Kansas City

The entourage flew to Chicago in the afternoon and checked into the Whitehall Hotel.

Monday April 17

Live: Arie Crown Theatre, Chicago

The Arie Crown held only 4,000, significantly less than the arenas and halls they had been playing. It would have made for an intimate setting with better audience interaction, but with the equipment set up downstage, and an orchestra pit at the front, the band found they were unable to see the audience.

Tuesday April 18

Live: Arie Crown Theatre, Chicago

On the second night, the orchestra pit was taken out and Bowie was able to work the crowd. As the house lights went down, he called for them to be turned back up a little “so I can see you all out there!”

John Milward, Rolling Stone: David Bowie's career has been predicated on abrupt stylistic changes, and the most surprising aspect of his new live show is the ease with which he melds the disparate strands into a tightly woven whole. During the two-hour show, Bowie places equal emphasis on the adventuresome new music he's made with Brian Eno and the souped-up and blown dry hard rock that made him a star.

The new Ziggy is a dramatic crooner – Bowie turns everything into a prop, from his Gitanes to his mike-over-the-shoulder delivery of Suffragette City – with a different story. Marching in time with the manic “I want to touch you” phrase that concludes Breaking Glass, Bowie leaped from the stage, touched somebody in the first row, and was back on stage before most of the audience knew what had happened. The time lapse was just a second but if you caught Bowie's face, you saw his features screaming with insecurity.

Then during a stunning interpretation of Moon Of Alabama, Bowie's face again became the focal point, changing with each verse and making Bowie appear to be a man of a thousand visages. That we can't tell which face is real is what makes Bowie's show so intriguing. [209][Milward, John. David Bowie: Man Of Many Phases (Rolling Stone 267, 15 June 1978)]

Thursday April 20

John Rockwell interviewed Bowie in his suite at the Pontchartrain Hotel in Detroit. He remarked that Bowie had managed to become commercially viable without repeating himself.

“I'd be most discouraged if I felt complacent about what I was doing,” Bowie replied. “I've been in that position maybe once, around the time of the Diamond Dogs album. I thought that was terribly successful then, but looking back on it, I see I was being complacent. I get bored with my old styles, and I think 80 per cent of my changes were an actual striving to do something new.”

Bowie explained the rationale of the balance of experimentation and entertainment reflected in the 1978 concerts. “It's a very fine line. I'm not quite as much of an extremist as most of the people that I admire. I'm doing what I'm best at doing. However much I'd like to become an avant-gardist, that is not in the cards.” [261][Rockwell, John. David Bowie Keeps On Flirting With Extremes (New York times, 7 May 1978)]

Asked about his ambition to direct, Bowie pointed out the dangers of rock musicians moving into filmmaking, such as Neil Young's Journey Through The Past and Bob Dylan's Renaldo and Clara.

“Their biggest fault was to try to transfer the enigma of their music onto film. The listener has his own silver screen. Images reduce the symbolism in stature. I'm resolved to attempt things purely narrative in the beginning. If I can accomplish that, then I'll consider myself prepared to make slightly more obscure kinds of movies.”

Live: Cobo Arena, Detroit

Bowie and the band came out to greet a rowdy Detroit crowd – someone hung a banner from the balcony that read “Bring Back Old Bowie”.

Mayes (1999): Rough cities usually have great audiences – Glasgow, Hamburg, Detroit – they either love you or they hate you and really let you know it. [022][Mayes, Sean. Life On Tour With David Bowie: We Can Be Heroes (Independent Music Press, 1999)]

Accordingly security was ready for any trouble from the 12,000-strong capacity crowd. The more overzealous bouncers started beating up the fans that came up to the front in the second half.

Distracted by the violence, Bowie fluffed some lyrics during Ziggy Stardust. He called the band to stop playing and yelled at the guard, “You! No! That is not necessary!” The crowd roared its approval as he continued, “Too many fucking people have been fucking hurt in places like this. Don't do it! We're not playing or singing no more, man, unless it's enjoyable.”

Eric Barrett jumped down to the front to hustle out the offenders and Bowie restarted the song then faltered, distressed by the incident. Alomar pounded out the Suffragette City opening riff and the band fell in behind.

Mayes (1999): David used his adrenalin to spit out the lines… Hey man! Ah, leave me alone, you know! Hey man! The crowd cheered and stomped along and the mood was broken. [022][Mayes, Sean. Life On Tour With David Bowie: We Can Be Heroes (Independent Music Press, 1999)]

Friday April 21

Live: Cobo Arena, Detroit

Television: Midnight Special broadcast in US (NBC)

Interviewed by Flo and Eddie. Dressed in a kimono, Bowie talked about his trip to Kenya with Zowie, Aladdin Sane and the revival of Ziggy Stardust for the 1978 tour.

Saturday April 22

Live: Richfield Coliseum, Cleveland

The entourage arrived in Cleveland and checked into Swingo's Inn, a hotel favoured by musicians. As they arrived, Count Basie, who was there for a show, stopped to greet Dennis Davis and Tony Mascia, who used to chauffeur him in New York. In the evening Bowie called a meeting with the band, Eric Barrett and Pat Gibbons to discuss recording the live album the following week in Philadelphia.

Monday April 24

Live: Mecca Arena, Milwaukee

Wednesday April 26

Live: Civic Arena, Pittsburgh

Pete Bishop, Pittsburgh Press: He proved what he has hidden under excessive theatrics all these years: that he's one of the very best rock'n'rollers around. “If I play music, its going to be straight and I'll take the consequences,” Bowie told an interviewer recently. And play it straight, backed by a fine band, is just what he did. And the shockingly small but enthusiastic crowd (5671) loved it. [060][Bishop, Pete. Bowie Straight Just Plain Good (Pittsburgh Press, 27 April 1978)]

Thursday April 27

Live: Capital Center, Landover

Tom Zito, Washington Post: One must admire Bowie for attempting to broaden the musical parameters of rock concerts, although in the process he may have managed to cut his audience in half.

Friday April 28

Live, recording: Spectrum Arena, Philadelphia

Tony Visconti flew Concorde from London to New York, arriving in Philadelphia in time to set up the equipment to record both of the Spectrum dates for the live album, Stage.

Tony Visconti (2002): RCA loaned us their excellent mobile studio, which we parked outside each venue. I was the engineer, assisted by two senior RCA engineers. Each show was miked exactly the same way and no one was permitted to change the settings on the console from show to show. So consistent was the sound (and the tempo of each song) that we were able to use the intro and outro of Station To Station from Boston and the bulk from Rhode Island. [422][tonyvisconti.com – Stage (2002)]

Tony Visconti (2006): I had to make sure that the band was close miked for maximum separation between their sounds to ensure more control during mixing. I wanted to audience to sound big and real and I wanted the natural reverb in the concert halls to enhance the sound of the record. I used four microphones for the audience, not the more common two that are usually placed left and right in the house. Quadraphonic recording was still viable in the late nineteen seventies and I wanted to cover the possibility; years later my Surround Sound mix recreated the spatial feeling of being in the audience.

Saturday April 29

Live, recording: Spectrum Arena, Philadelphia

Ahead of the second night's live recording, the band had a complete rehearsal in the afternoon. The tapes from the previous night's performance had showed they had been playing too fast, so Alomar reestablished the studio tempos.

May 1978

Monday May 1

Live: Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto

At the hotel bar after the show Bowie caught up with Lindsay Kemp who was playing a season of Salome and Flowers in Toronto and had been to the concert that night with Jack Birkett AKA The Incredible Orlando.

Tuesday May 2

Live: Civic Center, Ottawa

Wednesday May 3

Live: Forum, Montreal

Bowie declined a request to sing the French version of Heroes, telling the Montreal audience that he couldn't remember the French lyrics.

Thursday May 4

After arriving in Boston and checking in to the Sheraton, the tour party had a day off before the show in Providence.

Friday May 5

Live: Civic Center, Providence (recorded)

Saturday May 6

Live: Boston Garden, Boston (recorded)

The Boston Rock Thrower regularly attended concerts armed with rocks. At some point he would get up and hurl them at the stage. This time, one narrowly missed Dennis Davis, another smashed Roger Powell's keyboard.

Sunday May 7

Arriving in New York, the party settled in at the Westbury Hotel, uptown on Madison Avenue for a night off before the two sold-out Madison Square Garden concerts.

Carlos Alomar celebrated his 27th birthday at Hurrah disco at 32 West 62nd Street. Bowie turned up at the party with Bianca Jagger, but disappeared soon afterwards. Coco explained later, “He was rather shy about coming here tonight as several of his ex-girlfriends were here. But you should have seen their faces when he walked in.”

Radio: Bowie interviewed on WPLJ-FM

Monday May 8

Live: Madison Square Garden, New York

The atmosphere backstage at the Garden was thick with the pungent smells of animals – the circus was in town. Barnum and Bailey were at the venue for a month, but Pat Gibbons had bought two nights from them for Bowie's engagement. Naturally the animals remained there, just down the passage from Bowie's dressing rooms.

Adrian Belew (2009): We had a banquet room where there was lots of food laid out, and some of the wives, children and band associates were there. The door burst open and suddenly a chimpanzee in a houndstooth suit and roller skates came whirling around the table, chasing the kids all over the place, followed by his handler in an identical suit, holding a little placard that read “Here's my chimp. he's done a thousand commercials and movies.” [040][Spitz, Marc. David Bowie (Aurum, 2009)]

Belew was nervous at the prospect of playing to the rarefied New York crowd of 20,000, specifically those whose music he was playing: “Bob Fripp will be out there,” he worried, “Earl Slick might be coming.”

Sean Mayes was more unnerved by the presence of Bianca Jagger watching from the wings with Coco, Andy Warhol and Yoko Ono. During a break in the show, Bianca visited Bowie backstage and arranged to go to lunch with Warhol the following day at Quo Vadis – which was later cancelled when Bowie was too busy.

Adrian Belew (2007): I remember scanning the front row and seeing Dustin Hoffman looking back at me. Off to one side of the stage sat Andy Warhol with his ever faithful entourage trying their best to look nonchalant. Somewhere in the audience were the Talking Heads, Mick Jagger, Bianca, etc. It was a rubberneck fest. [397][elephant-blog.blogspot.com – Anecdote # 373 (Adrian Belew, 30 April 2007)]

Tony Visconti was there as there had been a plan to record the New York dates but it was scrapped as it involved a costly recording fee.

Paul Rambali, NME: The first hour was the province of Low and Heroes, his avowedly conscious and uncaring rejection of the commercial avenues he opened up for himself with Young Americans and Station To Station. The actual song "Heroes" seemed to find a space in the audience's collective attention span but the rest of the songs left them plainly restless. The applause seemed to be directed at the thin, fashionably attired presence on stage for being there and being who he is rather than for his music. [246][Rambali, Paul. David Bowie: Madison Square Garden NYC (NME, 20 May 1978)]

The New York Times critic John Rockwell described the concert as “one of the highlights of the year.”

Tuesday May 9

Live: Madison Square Garden, New York

Brian Eno visited backstage and showed Roger Powell how he had created the synthesiser sounds on Low and Heroes.

After the show – the last of the US leg of the tour – Eno and Bianca Jagger joined the party to celebrate at CBGB. They moved on to Studio 54 where they met up with members of Blondie.

Wednesday May 10

While the tour party spent their day off relaxing in New York, Bowie flew to Paris to post-sync some dialogue on Just A Gigolo, in preparation for its screening at Cannes Film Festival.

Tony Visconti returned to Good Earth Studios in London to mix the live tapes for the album Stage. RCA wanted the album out as soon as possible to promote the tour and thwart bootleggers who had cashed in on Bowie's 1976 tour with bootlegs such as The Wembley Wizard Touches The Dial and The Thin White Duke.

Thursday May 11

In the afternoon the touring party (without Bowie) flew to Frankfurt.

Friday May 12

David Bowie Narrates Prokofiev's Peter And The Wolf

album released on RCA Red Seal in UK (RL-12743)

TV Eye: 1977 Live

Iggy Pop album released on RCA (AFL1-2796)

The album was culled from soundboard tapes from The Idiot and Lust For Life shows and cleaned up by Edu Meyer at Hansa Tonstudio. Iggy Pop's live album fulfilled his RCA contract and he received a full album advance.

Bowie played piano and sang backing vocal on four of the tracks: TV Eye, Funtime, Dirt (March 21 and 22 in Cleveland) and I Wanna Be Your Dog (March 28 in Chicago).

Saturday May 13

Rehearsal: Festhalle, Frankfurt

Bowie arrived from Paris and joined the band at 7pm.

Sunday May 14

Live: Festhalle, Frankfurt

Monday May 15

Live: Congress Centrum, Hamburg

The entourage arrived in Hamburg and checked in at the Plaza Hotel by the lake. That night they played to an audience of 3,000 who were appreciative but remained seated throughout the concert. A solitary fan ventured to the front at the end of Ziggy Stardust and returned to his seat after Bowie leaned down to shake his hand.

Tuesday May 16

Cologne
Television: Arena Rock (BBC)

“Absolute ruhe bitte!” Bowie barked in mock German officialese, when someone in the room made some noise off-camera. Cracked Actor producer Alan Yentob was interviewing Bowie in his room at the Hilton against a grey skyline of Cologne.

Alan Yentob: Well, it's been a long time…

Bowie: The last time you were with me was in Los Angeles – one of the worst periods in my life, I think. I got into a lot of emotional and spiritual trouble there and so I decided to split and discover new ways of relating to the music business per se. I wasn't sure exactly what I was in it for any more.

Alan Yentob: Was there a clash between the materialism, the need to be a rock star – successful?

Bowie: Yes, very much so. And as I really didn't want to be one myself, I was living more and more in the style of one of my characters who wanted terrific success – cause they're all messiah figures … I really felt the material aspect was something that had to be done in Los Angeles because it's driven into you, it's the food of Los Angeles – Hollywood, rather, not Los Angeles. And so I just packed up everything one day and I moved back to Europe … It was finding out what used to interest me when I was at art school and mime companies and mixed media productions when I was young. Thats the first thing I did when I got back to Europe, was to stop thinking about music and performing for a bit and think about something that I hadn't done for a long time, which was paint. And that helped me get back into music again. And also from a different perspective about music and what I wanted to write. And it was a form of expressionistic realism (laughs) – if there's such a thing!

I'm not quite sure where to go now. The East beckons me. I'm a bit scared of moving over there really, because I fall in love so much with the lifestyle that I get very Zen about it and won't write anything anymore. And I want to keep contributing. [347][Arena Rock (BBC2, 29 May 1978)]

Broadcast May 29 (BBC2)

Live: Deutschlandhalle, West Berlin

As in Hamburg, the audience remained seated throughout the show and again a solitary fan from the front row got up to dance during Station To Station. A person of military appearance, also in the front row, motioned to the bouncers to subdue him. Bowie ordered them to stop but he was ignored, so he stopped the band and repeated “No! Nein! Stop!” They released the boy and the show resumed.

Thursday May 18

Live: Gruga Halle, Essen

Friday May 19

Live: Kölner Sporthalle, Köln

Saturday May 20

Live: Olympiahalle, Munich

Tony Visconti arrived with the finished mixes of Stage, which he played to Bowie and some of the band in a studio hired for the evening.

Tony Visconti (2002): They loved it and jumped out of their seats when they heard the descending notes on Fame (we were playing it back very, very loud). David loved it just as I'd mixed it and didn't want to change a single thing. I suggested that maybe the ambient instrumentals could be edited shorter, but he insisted they remain on the album in their entirety. [422][tonyvisconti.com – Stage (2002)]

Monday May 22

Live: Stadthalle, Vienna

Tuesday May 23

Promotion: 31st International Film Festival, Cannes

The rest of the band and crew flew to Paris, staying at the Hotel de la Trémoille, for a day off before the first of the two shows there.

Meanwhile Bowie attended the Cannes International Film Festival to promote Just A Gigolo. David Hemmings had organised a preview screening of a French dubbed version for potential film distributors. With the editing still incomplete, Hemmings and the films backers felt that Bowie's presence might help its chances.

Hemmings had also organised a Gigolo party, complete with a group of men dressed in tuxedos. With crowds milling everywhere, Bowie ducked through the kitchen and made his entrance, dressed in a silver grey tux and t-shirt.

Bianca Jagger was also at the festival promoting the Francois Weyergans film, Couleur Chair (Flesh Colour) in which she appeared with Dennis Hopper. The film ran in the section parallèle of the festival but was never released.

Wednesday May 24

Live: Pavillon de Paris, Paris

After partying all night with film industry people who might distribute the film, Bowie had Tony Mascia rushed him back to Paris. He joined the band for a 4pm soundcheck, returning to the Plaza Athénée Hotel to rest up before the first Paris concert. After the show, Bowie broke his cocaine abstinence and stayed up for the next 24 hours.

Thursday May 25

Live: Pavillon de Paris, Paris

After the show Bowie and the band partied at The Palace, the local equivalent of Studio 54.

Friday May 26

Live: Palais des Sports de Gerland, Lyon

The touring party boarded the plane at Orly Airport for the short flight to Lyon. There was a lengthy delay on the tarmac – it was announced that they were running off fuel while they changed an engine. Bowie groaned, “Oh God, that means the pilot's drunk and they're feeding him black coffee.” Recalling the flight from Cyprus in 1972 that put him off air travel for five years, he gripped the armrest tightly as they finally ascended to the clouds.

In the evening Bowie arrived at the venue, which was surrounded by fans. His French driver tried to drop Bowie off out the front amidst the crowd, explaining, “I must go back to the hotel to collect some more people.”

Saturday May 27

Live: Palais des Sports, Marseilles
(in place of cancelled show at Parc Chaneau)

The show went well with the band in high spirits and an enthusiastic crowd, until they finished playing Blackout. As if on cue, the speakers sputtered and died, along with the lights.

Sean Mayes (1986): Carlos was very quick-witted and shouted for us all to get off the stage très vite. There was no real division between the audience and the backstage area and it was felt that we should leave the building. [009][Currie, David. The Starzone Interviews (Omnibus Press, 1985)]

Marseilles had a reputation for rough crowds, even by Rolling Stones standards. Keith Richards had told Bowie they had chairs thrown at them.

Eric Barrett hustled them quickly backstage into the limos and back to their rooms at the hotel. An hour later the roadies had located the loose connection and restored power. Barrett then called them all back and they finished the concert.

Sean Mayes (1986): It was like giving a show to the troops just behind the front line. It was a hell of a show because everyone had so much nervous energy. [009][Currie, David. The Starzone Interviews (Omnibus Press, 1985)]

Monday May 29

Arena Rock broadcast in UK (BBC2)

Tuesday May 30

Television: Musikladen Extra

Produced by Radio Bremen
Director: Michael Leckebusch

Sense Of Doubt / Beauty And The Beast / Heroes / Stay / The Jean Genie / TVC 15 / Alabama Song / Rebel Rebel (encore)/ What In The World (encore)

Bowie put together a 45-minute version of the set for the concert, filmed live in the studio, which was done up like a music club with an audience of 150 sitting at tables amidst pot plants.

Broadcast (omitting What In The World) August 4 (ZDF)

Wednesday May 31

Live: Falkoner Teatret, Copenhagen

June 1978

Thursday June 1

Live: Falkoner Teatret, Copenhagen

Friday June 2

Live: Kungliga Tennishallen, Stockholm

Sunday June 4

Live: Scandinavium, Gothenburg

Monday June 5

Live: Ekeberg Idrettshall, Oslo

Wednesday June 7
Thursday June 8
Friday June 9

Live: Sportpaleis Ahoy, Rotterdam

After the Friday show Bowie, Coco and Sean Mayes checked out the Amsterdam nightlife. The first club they tried was full of younger people who quickly noticed Bowie in their midst. In the end they headed for Bonapartes, a mixed gay club where they socialised and danced without fans milling around him.

Sunday June 11

Live: Vorst Nationaal, Brussels

Cracked Actor rebroadcast in UK (BBC2)

Monday June 12

Live: Vorst Nationaal, Brussels

Tuesday June 13

Iggy Pop's TV Eye Tour (with a new band that included Scott Asheton and Fred Smith ) crossed paths with Bowie's when they played two nights at the Music Machine in Camden Town.

Eno was at the Monday show, playing pool throughout the set, which a reviewer said “didn't rise above the ordinary.”

Bowie and Sean Mayes came to the second night, which was reportedly better. Johnny Rotten was standing at the bar with his back to the stage wearing a huge overcoat with the collar up, despite the tropical heat in the venue.

Later when Bowie and Mayes were backstage with Iggy, security knocked at the door, calling out “I have a Mr Rotten here.” Bowie opened it for Rotten who, Mayes said, “was soon complaining about the place being too hot, the beer shitty.” He then told Iggy the show was “a load of rubbish.” Bowie later recalled, “Being a Capricorn, I just stayed in the background and listened” but others in the room remember otherwise:

Scott Asheton (1997): They're all sitting around a big table, and Bowie and Iggy just kept telling Johnny flat out what he should do. You know, “You should do this, get rid of these guys, straighten up your act, go talk to this person...” And he's just sitting there not saying a thing. Finally Johnny just stood up and said “Fuck you guys. You're full of shit.” [023][McNeil, Legs and McCain, Gillian. Please Kill Me (Penguin, 1997)]

John Lydon (1993): I went backstage to say hello because I had met Iggy a year before. Mr. Bowie wanted me removed – thrown out in fact. He wasn't touring with Iggy – he was just backstage. I thought it was odd. It was Iggy's gig, and Mr. Bowie got his personal bouncers to have me removed. [020][Lydon, John. No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs (Hodder & Stoughton, 1993)]

After a while Coco arrived and they left to go clubbing with Iggy at Monkberrys (a cabaret/disco in Mayfair) and Tramps.

Wednesday June 14

Live: City Hall, Newcastle

The entourage arrived in Newcastle, basing themselves at The Gosforth Park Hotel for the three dates at the modest 2,000-seat City Hall. It was Bowie's first UK show in two years and rabid fans were laying siege to the hotel and venue alike. The limos circled the venue nine times before the stage door was cleared for Bowie and the band to get inside. Inside the enthusiasm of the audience in the comparatively small hall made for a show Sean Mayes described as “amazing”, with two “glorious encores”.

Thursday June 15

Live: City Hall, Newcastle

Backstage visitors included Trevor Bolder and Iggy Pop, who joined the tour for a week. Pat Gibbons told the press that the Egon Schiele film had been postponed for at least a year, and that the live album would be released mid-July.

Friday June 16

Live: City Hall, Newcastle

Television interview: Northern Lights (Tyne Tees)

Saturday June 17

Bowie, Iggy and the entourage (including girlfriends, wives and children) boarded the coach for the trip to Glasgow. They made tourist stops along the way – a country pub (where the barmaid had a chat with Bowie and stole a kiss) near the Scottish border, and Edinburgh Castle.

Monday June 19

Live: The Apollo, Glasgow

Television interview: Reporting Scotland (BBC Scotland)

Tuesday June 20

Live: The Apollo, Glasgow

Thursday June 22

Live: The Apollo, Glasgow

Press interview: Jonathan Mantle, Vogue (September issue)

Mantle: Whether you're protected, or you protect yourself deliberately now, you keep yourself cut off. Is there a danger of cutting yourself off from things you might not want to miss?

Bowie: I keep myself cut off from hotels and things, out of deference to the English countryside. At the moment I'm staying way outside of Glasgow, so most of my time has been spent walking on the hills and fishing in the lakes, and running every day. I've been with a friend, Jimmy Osterberg – Iggy Pop. We're from very different backgrounds – that's why we get on really well. I've spent this tour in a very civilised fashion. I've been able to live as I do when I'm not on the road. I get up at seven or eight in the morning, and walk.

Mantle: How long will you stay in Berlin?

Bowie: I think I've finished there now. I've been in Japan and Thailand recently and I may go back to Japan, somewhere round Tokyo. [193][Mantle, Jonathan. David Bowie (Vogue, September 1978)]

Friday June 23

Bowie travelled to Birmingham by rail with Coco, Sean Mayes, Rob Joyce and Leroy Kerr. Travelling first class, Bowie was occasionally accosted by fans who were following the tour. He indulged them with autographs, but Coco had to fend off a persistent waiter in the dining car.

Saturday June 24
Sunday June 25
Monday June 26

Live: Bingley Hall, Stafford

After the Sunday concert, a party was held for the road crew at a club in Birmingham, featuring a disco and a strip show. Dennis Davis got up onstage with a mic and livened up the show with a mock fashion commentary.

Thursday June 29
Friday June 30

Live, filming: Earl's Court Arena, London

On the second night, David Hemmings and a film crew set up to shoot concert footage for a feature length documentary film of the tour – one of the first Bewlay Bros productions. Tony Visconti was on hand to supervise recording.

In the afternoon the band played a technical rehearsal for Hemmings crew to set the recording levels and camera angles. A giant crane arm was used to lift one of the camera operators above the stage and audience.

Television: London Weekend Show

Janet Street-Porter and a film crew recorded a special with the focus on Bowie's relationship with his fans, some of whom she interviewed outside the venue, as well as journalist Michael Watts and David Hemmings.

Michael Watts: I think he attracts the punks because they like the idea of somebody who's in a constant state of change and also doesn't represent the hippy period. When Bowie first came out in the Seventies, he was such a relief from all the earnest, rather boring music that was happening and the kind of po-faced attitude that existed in the pop music scene.

David Hemmings: I think it's much more exciting for an audience to have that kind of association with somebody that they really can't touch or understand completely than it is with somebody who's a lot more open and immediately communicative. [362][London Weekend Show (ITV, 9 July 1978)]

Shortly before show time, Bowie emerged from his trailer in the cavernous backstage area to give a short interview with Janet Street-Porter.

“I think that this is not so much of an act really,” Bowie said. “It's more… sort of… a performance of songs. This tour has been somewhat of an eye opener because I've really enjoyed just performing songs and not having the commitment of having to be a character, which has made it less of a strain than it normally is.”

With Hemmings inside about to shoot the concert, Bowie was evasive about Just A Gigolo. “I don't know, I haven't seen it. I don't usually see rushes when I'm filming so I really don't have any real idea of what the film's like.” Of his future plans he ventured, “Possibly a little tour next year, very simple one. But definitely a big tour in two years time – 1980.” [362][London Weekend Show (ITV, 9 July 1978)]

London Weekend Show 30-minute special, featuring interviews and excerpts of Star, Heroes and Hang On To Yourself from Earl's Court, broadcast July 9 (ITV)

July 1978

Saturday July 1

Live, filming: Earl's Court Arena, London

The show marked the end of the European leg of the tour. In the audience – Brian May, Roger Taylor, Ian Dury, Dustin Hoffman, Bob Geldof and Iggy Pop.

David Hemmings and his film crew were back, getting more footage for the documentary. Backstage one of the cameras turned to film Bowie's arrival with Bianca Jagger, until Pat Gibbons blocked it.

Mayes (1999): The gig was sensational, the final high of the tour. The surge to the front started almost immediately so we played to a seething crowd of excitement. The first half was magnificent, the second just wild. [022][Mayes, Sean. Life On Tour With David Bowie: We Can Be Heroes (Independent Music Press, 1999)]

Midway through the first set, Bowie turned to ask the band if they remembered how to play Sound And Vision. “Here's something we haven't done before,” he told the 20,000 strong audience as the band kicked into the song. “This is all last night stuff, folks!"

Bianca Jagger and David Hemmings joined Bowie's party at Tramps nightclub to celebrate the end of the European tour.

1995 Be My Wife and Sound And Vision released on Rarest One Bowie compilation (Golden Years)

2018 Blackout live album released (Parlophone)

Stage film

Bowie and Hemmings envisaged the film as a 90-minute feature incorporating Bowie's life on and off the stage, which they hoped would be in cinemas late autumn, pending a distribution deal.

In February 1979, when Nicky Horne interviewed Bowie on Capital Radio, the film was still a going concern, intended as a companion to Stage.

Bowie (1979): We had great ambitions in the beginning to do some kind of surreal thing but what we've ended up with is a very straightforward film of the concert as it stands and I hope that it sort of matches the album. There's a little bit more to do with the editing then it's ready. I don't know when its going to come out, exactly. [341][Your Mother Wouldn't Like It (Nicky Horne, Capital Radio, 13 February 1979)]

David Hemmings (2000): We shot it with about 10 cameras over two nights. We put it all together in Majorca, where I had a house, and David came out and stayed with us. But at the end of it he didn't like the cut, or he didn't like the fact that we had to cut in between numbers in order to get all the coverage. So he never released it.

Bowie (2000): I simply didn't like the way it had been shot. Now, of course, it looks pretty good and I would suspect that it would make it out some time in the future. [105][Dalton, Stephen and Hughes, Rob. Trans-Europe Excess (Uncut, April 2001)]

Sunday July 2

Recording: Alabama Song (Brecht, Weill)
Good Earth Studios, 59 Dean Street, Soho, London
Producer: Tony Visconti

During his Berlin period, Bowie had become a fan of Brecht and Weill (though nothing came of the mooted Threepenny Opera film with Fassbinder) and their Alabama Song, popularised by Kurt Weill's wife Lotte Lenya and later by The Doors.

The song had become a highlight of the set so Bowie decided to take the match-fit tour band into Visconti's studio to record it.

Sean Mayes (1999): David wanted Dennis [Davis] to play very freely against the rhythm to give an unstable, insane atmosphere to the track. When we tried to do this, it proved hilariously difficult so we finally laid the backing down without drums then Dennis overdubbed his demolishing attack when his efforts wouldn't disturb the beat. [022][Mayes, Sean. Life On Tour With David Bowie: We Can Be Heroes (Independent Music Press, 1999)]

Bowie presented the recording to RCA as his next single, a move so perverse it was interpreted as a provocation to RCA to release him from his contract. RCA refrained from issuing it until 1980.

Sunday July 9

London Weekend Show broadcast in UK (ITV)

August 1978

Friday August 4

Musikladen Extra broadcast in Germany (ZDF)

Bowie returned to the relative anonymity of Berlin where he had a crew cut and grew a short beard. He packed up his belongings at Hauptstrasse 155 to move to Switzerland.

September 1978

Vogue published in UK, including Jonathan Mantle's February interview with Bowie and portraits by Lord Snowdon. article

Recording: Lodger
Mountain Studios, Montreux
Producer: Tony Visconti

After a two-month break the tour band reconvened in Switzerland, where Bowie was now living, to record what became Lodger, the third album of the so-called Berlin triptych.

Mountain Studios was located on the shore of Lake Geneva, part of the casino complex that had been rebuilt since the 1971 fire Deep Purple immortalised in Smoke On The Water. The band was staying a short walk away at the Hotel Excelsior.

They set up in the smaller of the two studios with in-house engineers David Richards and Bowie's neighbour in Vevey, Eugene Chaplin.

Tony Visconti: It wasn't really a studio for recording a band at all but was used to record live concerts in the huge auditorium that was below us. It was small and really an overdub studio but the main auditorium was booked out for the summer.

Belew (2010): The control room of the studio was on the first floor, while the actual recording room was above it on the second floor. There was a camera in the recording room, which allowed David, Eno and Tony to see the players. [399][elephant-blog.blogspot.com – Planned Accidents (Adrian Belew, 23 March 2010)]

The album's working title was Planned Accidents, continuing the experimental spontaneous approach of its predecessors. With little in the way of specific song ideas, Bowie and Eno instead directed the musicians using the Oblique Strategies methodology that Eno developed with Peter Schmidt.

Mayes (1985): He and Brian were determining the direction everything should take. Basically we were getting down backing tracks. Wed be given a chord sequence and a rhythm and in one case, Brian would point to different chords with a baton. It seemed deliberately to make things difficult for us. If anyone was getting too comfortable with what they were playing, hed then change it and give them something else, so you were making mistakes all the time. [Juby, Kerry. In Other Words: David Bowie (Omnibus Press, 1986)]

Visconti (2006): Eno asked for a blackboard and wrote his eight favourite chords [B flat, F, C, E, G, E flat, A minor and C minor] in big block letters. He then said to Carlos, Dennis and George, “Okay, I'd like you to play a funky groove. I will point to a chord and you will change over to that chord after four beats.” I could see the rhythm section exchanging irritable looks as if to say “what an asshole.”

Bowie (2001): Brian and I did play a number of 'art pranks' on the band. They really didn't go down too well though. [105][Dalton, Stephen and Hughes, Rob. Trans-Europe Excess (Uncut, April 2001)]

Visconti (2003): He was telling these three black guys who came from the roughest part of New York, “Just play something funky.” [176][Kent, Nick. Into The Abyss (Mojo: Bowie, November 2003)]

Another strategy they devised for Boys Keep Swinging (originally called Lewis Reed) was to have the musicians swap instruments – Alomar on drums, Davis on bass and Murray on guitar, though only Alomar's drum part was kept.

Bowie (1979): What was extraordinary was the enthusiasm that came from musicians who weren't playing their usual instrument. They became kids discovering rock'n'roll for the first time again. [310][Watts, Michael. Bowie's Lodger: Where New Muzik Meets Errol Flynn (Melody Maker, 19 May 1979)] Visconti (2002): Boys Keep Swinging and Fantastic Voyage are the same exact chord changes and structure, even in the same key, just the tempo and instrumentation are different. We even recorded a third song with the same structure, but it never got finished. [423][tonyvisconti.com – Lodger (2002)]

At one point they considered recording the entire album with these chord changes. In the two weeks at Mountain they tried various strategies – oblique and standard – to generate new song ideas. African Nightlife came from jamming on Suzie Q. Others were the result of recycling. Bowie borrowed back Sister Midnight, which he had originally written with Alomar and given to Iggy. They slowed down the original backing track, removed some instruments and added others as well as new lyrics, which became Red Money.

Tony Visconti (2006): Move On was inspired by playing the recording of All The Young Dudes backwards and then everyone learning to play it that way.

Bowie (1999): I had put one of my reel to reel tapes on backwards by mistake and really quite liked the melody it created. So I played quite a few more in this fashion and chose five or six that were really quite compelling. Dudes was the only one to make the album, as I didn't want to abandon the 'normal' writing I was doing completely. But it was a worthwhile exercise in my mind. [106][Dalton, Stephen. David Bowie and Tony Visconti interviews (for Uncut, April 2001)]

At the end of each recording day Bowie and Visconti would run off a quarter inch tape of the recordings and review the takes. Then they looped the section with the mistakes to form song structures.

Mayes (1985): Because the mistakes come up again each time, they cease to be mistakes – they become part of the music. Youd end up with the structure of a song in multi track made from the loops that you could continue adding to and it ceased to be obvious that it came from loops in the first place. [Juby, Kerry. In Other Words: David Bowie (Omnibus Press, 1986)]

With the backing tracks complete, Alomar, Davis and Murray flew home to New York. Mayes, House and Belew then alternated in the studio recording overdubs alone upstairs with Bowie running back and forth with suggestions.

Tony Visconti (2001): Adrian Belew was a champion because he'd do whatever strange thing that was requested of him. [105][Dalton, Stephen and Hughes, Rob. Trans Europe excess (Uncut, April 2001)]

Belew (2010): The idea, in keeping with the theme "planned accidents", was to capture my accidental responses to the backing tracks they had already recorded. So they insisted I never hear the tracks beforehand, nor was I allowed to know the key of the songs. I simply heard a count-off and was instructed to play something along with the tracks as best I could. After no more than three tries, we would move on to the next song. (Just about the time I knew when to expect the chorus.) Later, David, Eno, and Tony chose their favourite bits from what I had played and made them into a single composite guitar part, a guitar part I never actually could or would have played. [399][elephant-blog.blogspot.com – Planned Accidents (Adrian Belew, 23 March 2010)]

After two weeks the musicians were sent home, to regroup in a month for the last leg of the tour. Bowie and Visconti made plans to finish the album – still untitled and without lyrics – in the new year.

Monday September 25

Photo session: L'Uomo Vogue
Paris
Photographer: Bruce Weber

Published December/January

Friday September 29

STAGE

live album released on RCA

PL 02913 (UK) and CPL2 2913 (US) • Chart peak UK 5 US 44

Side one
Hang On To Yourself 3:26
Ziggy Stardust 3:32
Five Years 3:58
Soul Love 2:55
Star 2:31

Side two
Station To Station 8:55
Fame (Bowie-Lennon-Alomar) 4:06
TVC 15 4:37

Side three
Warszawa (Bowie-Eno) 6:56
Speed Of Life 2:46
Art Decade 3:10
Sense Of Doubt 3:11
Breaking Glass (Bowie-Davis-Murray) 3:28

Side four
Heroes (Bowie-Eno) 6:20
What In The World 4:22
Blackout 4:02
Beauty And The Beast 5:08

David Bowie (vocals, keyboards)
Carlos Alomar (rhythm guitar)
George Murray (bass)
Dennis Davis (drums, percussion)
Adrian Belew (lead guitar)
Simon House (violin)
Sean Mayes (piano, string ensemble)
Roger Powell (synthesiser, keyboards)

Produced by David Bowie and Tony Visconti

Recorded April/May in Boston, Philadelphia and Providence

RCA had asked Tony Visconti to hurry with the mix to ensure the album was out in time to promote the tour. By the end of May it was ready and in late July advertisements for pre-orders appeared with Bowie's self-portrait in lieu of a cover.

Then RCA put back the release date, citing problems with the artwork – Bowie had changed his mind about the cover. He wanted it changed to a live photograph by a reporter Gilles Riberolles that he saw in French rock magazine Best.

The release was further delayed by a contractual dispute between RCA and Bowie. He argued that the album counted as two LPs against his contract. RCA countered it was worth one as it was taken from a single performance, despite the fact that it wasn't.

An Evening With David Bowie

Promotional album released in US (RCA DJL1-3016)

Side one: Open 0:33 / Segment 1 7:29 / Ziggy Stardust 3:32 / Segment 2 2:26 / Station To Station 8:47

Side two: Segment 3 2:53 / Beauty And The Beast 5:02 / Segment 3 continued 6:22 / Fame 4:05 / Segment 4 5:18

Released to promote the tour and Stage, the exclusive Superstars Radio Network interview was recorded earlier in the year at Bowie's New York apartment where he spoke about his life, career, and influences. Intercut with live music tracks taken from Stage.

Produced and edited by Sonny Fox.
Special thanks to Lee Abrams, Joshua Blardo,
Ron Ross, Pat Gibbons and David Bowie.
Cover photograph by David James from The Man Who Fell To Earth.

Star 2:31 What in the World 4:22 Breaking Glass 3:28

Promo 12-inch single released in US (RCA DJL1-3255)

Live versions from Stage, pressed on white vinyl.
Cover photograph by Tom Kelley from the 1975 portrait session.

October 1978

Bowie's office issued a press release to address the rumours that he was considering leaving RCA for another label: “In answer to the numerous rumours concerning my recording activities, I wish to clear the air and set the record straight. At present and for the foreseeable future I am under contract to RCA Records and at no time have I engaged in any negotiations to alter that status. My relationship with RCA has been a long and rewarding one and any rumours that I am signing with another label are completely false and erroneous."

The world premiere of Just A Gigolo in Germany was postponed for a month due to problems translating from English to German. Hemmings original cut of the film was longer and dramatically different to the version eventually released in 1979.

Saturday October 14

Stage peaks at number 4 in the UK chart.

November 1978

 

Australasian Tour

Saturday November 4

Bowie arrived in Sydney for his first tour of Australia after an almost incident-free flight from Hong Kong. He had woken at 3am to the news that one of the four engines had cut out and was spilling oil into the ozone. “Nothing to worry about,” the captain assured them. “Awfully decent of him to tell us," Bowie reflected. [235][O'Grady, Anthony. On The Conveyor Belt With The Tall, Bronzed, Fragmented One (RAM, 1 December 1978)]

Despite having no prior notice of Bowie's arrival, reporters were waiting at the airport, but he eluded them with a ruse, and quietly slipped outside into the waiting car.

The band arrived at 4pm on a separate flight from Los Angeles and joined Bowie at Sebel Townhouse, a small European styled hotel in Elizabeth Bay, near Kings Cross and the city.

Monday November 6

Rehearsal: The Hordern Pavilion, Sydney

The band assembled for a week of rehearsals, working from late afternoon until early morning. The stage was fully constructed to ensure all technical aspects ran smoothly, with the lighting crew practicing synchronising the spots for each song.

Over the next two days Bowie gave interviews to the press in his room at the Sebel. Promoter Paul Dainty's publicist Margaret St George allocated thirty minutes to each group of five reporters.

Anthony O'Grady, RAM: He absolutely refused to do an all-in general press conference. Apparently he'd heard some of the classic stories – like the time Fleetwood Mac were asked five times within the hour just why they had a penguin as a logo. We ascend to the ninth floor or thereabouts… Barbara De Witt invites us into the actual interview room, seats everyone around the sofa where Bowie will actually sit and explains the rules. Half an hour of questions, and a five-minute warning before end of play. Barbara disappears to fetch The Man. [235][OGrady, Anthony. On The Conveyor Belt With The Tall, Bronzed, Fragmented One (RAM, 1 December 1978)]

John Hanrahan, The Sun: I was expecting a washed-out little man with a midnight suntan who would nod shyly and retire to the furthest seat in the room. He's slender, wiry, but Bowie's colouring is closer to midday at Bondi. [136][Hanrahan, John. Bowie… Seriously (The Sun, 23 November 1978)]

Bowie explained his tanned healthy appearance from his recent trip to Eastern Africa, where he spent three days with the Masai. “I'm a born traveller. I'm obsessed by it, can't stop. When I travel I take a Jeep and do it alone. When I go to Kenya, for instance, I'm on the road all the time and I make the most of any environment that I'm in.”

“While I'm here I'll take one flight out to Ayers Rock because I promised Brian Eno I would – that's his famous symbol in life, Ayers Rock. To him that's music – long barren passages with one jewel dropped in the middle. That's how he writes.” [235][OGrady, Anthony. On The Conveyor Belt With The Tall, Bronzed, Fragmented One (RAM, 1 December 1978)]

The Australian press focussed mainly on Bowie's appearance – his hair as “unfashionably short and conservatively groomed” – and lack of artifice.

“Ziggy has gone, so has the Thin White Duke and all the other characters. Now I'm just David Jones, the real me. I don't write character songs any more… so I suppose I am about as natural as I can be on stage in front of 20,000 people, which is a pretty unnatural thing to do. I do regret that Australian audiences never had a chance to see the characters. [134][Green, Gavin. Well See The Real Bowie (Sun Herald, 12 November 1978)]

Thursday November 9

In the evening Bowie and a small group went out to some clubs, ending up at the Manzil Room in Kings Cross.

Friday November 10

Television interview: Countdown (ABC)

Ian Meldrum interviewed Bowie on the tennis court at the Hordern Pavilion, where they talked about his arrival in Australia:

"The first thing that happened was that there were three or four press people behind me in the line saying, 'Have you seen David Bowie yet?' I said, 'You can't miss him, he's just over there, he's got a green raincoat on and bright red hair' and they went off and hassled the poor guy for a few minutes". [350][Countdown (ABC, 12 November 1978)]

In the evening Bowie and entourage flew to Adelaide for his first concert in Australia.

Synthesiser player Roger Powell missed the Adelaide and Perth shows as he was still playing Todd Rundgren dates. Melbourne musician Dennis Garcia took his place. Garcia's 1976 album Jive To Stay Alive involved biomechanical feedback devices. Electrodes were attached to his head and wired up with cables to trigger both drums and synthesisers. Bowie had liked the album and recruited Garcia for the tour. "He was a gentleman," Garcia later said. "He gave me a lot of good raps in the Australian press."

Saturday November 11

Live: Adelaide Oval, Adelaide

The Australian tour was the first time since 1973 that Bowie had a support act – The Angels. In 1978 their album Face To Face and the exposure from the Bowie tour made them one of Australia's most popular bands.

John Brewster, guitarist (2012): We had done the Meatloaf tour earlier in the year… then the Bowie tour took our album to triple platinum. I was told that he chose us on the strength of our music – he liked the sound of the band, and the songs.

Bowie and band arrived at the oval a couple of hours before the show.

Sean Mayes (1999): This was our first open air gig, the huge rig looking magnificent with a canopy covering the stage in case of rain. We all strolled out front on the grass while support group The Angels did a soundcheck. [022][Mayes, Sean. Life On Tour With David Bowie: We Can Be Heroes (Independent Music Press, 1999)]

John Brewster (2012): We did our soundcheck in the late afternoon and there was a lone figure sitting out on the grass about 60 metres away in a pair of slacks and a v-neck jumper and fairly short hair. I looked at him and I thought, I wonder if thats David Bowie and then I thought 'Nah, don't be silly, that can't be David Bowie'. But it was, and when we finished the soundcheck he was just on his own. As we started walking off the stage, this guy got up and walked around the back of the stage. We were walking down the steps and he was at the bottom and he introduced himself to each and every one of us. And thats when he said, “I really like your music” and “Would you like to have dinner with me and the band tonight?” It was really good to be made to feel so much a part of their tour.

Doc Neeson, vocalist (2007): Bowie insisted we be called 'special guests' rather than the support act. He said we could have his lights and did we want to borrow his guitars? He showed how to treat a support band. [319][Wilmoth, Peter. Fallen Angel (The Age, 3 June 2007)]

Later as the crowds were filing through the gates, Bowie was in his caravan in the backstage compound behind the stage, watching Peter Frampton co-host the Countdown music show.

Sean Mayes (1999): People were throwing streamers onstage, also a sparkler, a camera sling and a blue puppet wearing a Devo badge. Towards the end, Carlos was losing his voice and David forgot some of the words in Station To Station. But we stormed through the encores… [022][Mayes, Sean. Life On Tour With David Bowie: We Can Be Heroes (Independent Music Press, 1999)]

Bowie placed the puppet (a Sesame Street Grover doll) on Mayes's piano where it sat for most of the concert.

The piano Mayes played on the tour was a Bechstein. It had gone through several colour changes in its history from wood grain to black (studio work) to blue (television show) to black (private use) to white (Rod Stewart's 1977 Australian tour) and back to black for the Bowie tour.

Sunday November 12

Bowie and the band flew to Perth and checked in to the Sheraton Hotel overlooking the Swan River.

Countdown interview broadcast in Australia (ABC)

The eight-minute segment included the Ian Meldrum interview, clips of the band rehearsing Alabama Song in Sydney, Fame on Soul Train, "Heroes" video and Ziggy Stardust live in Dallas.

Tuesday November 14

Live: Entertainment Centre, Perth

Perth was not originally on the tour itinerary but Bowie ended up playing two concerts at the Entertainment Centre, a relatively new circular indoor venue with a capacity of 8200.

Wednesday November 15

Live: Entertainment Centre, Perth

The second Perth concert was scheduled and announced only that morning. It was only half full as a result, but those who had returned for the second night said it was the better of the two nights.

After the concert Bowie and Coco went to Connections nightclub. Bowie later stopped outside the club on their way out to autograph a fan's car.

Richard Norton was part of Paul Dainty's security unit and doubled as a martial arts instructor to his charges.

Richard Norton (1979): David's in great shape. The first time we met, in Australia, he says, “Well, give me a look at your push ups.” This is in a restaurant. So I'm down doing ten push ups, and he says, “Oh, I can do 'em better than that.” He jumps down and does arms-stretched ones. They're very hard to do. [181][Loder, Kurt. Karate Expert Puts The Muscle On Rock Stars (Chicago Tribune, 11 November 1979)]

Thursday November 16

Bowie and the band spent their day off in Perth cruising along the Swan River in a boat Dainty hired for them.

Sean Mayes (1986): On that tour, David was very relaxed and looking very healthy. We were all out on this boat in the sun, all in our swimsuits and things, and David was pulling at his middle and just about managing to pinch a bit of flesh between his fingers saying, “Dear me, they'll be calling me plump next.” [Juby, Kerry. In Other Words: David Bowie (Omnibus Press, 1986)]

In West Berlin most of the Just A Gigolo cast attended the premiere at the Gloria Palast, where Dietrich's film Blue Angel had opened to rave reviews in 1930. Gigolo however, was so poorly received that David Hemmings cancelled further screenings before the German public could see it.

Bowie (1979): During the filming we'd had a lot of aggravation from the German production company about we wanted to do things in a particular manner, and they wanted to do them in quicker time, and a bit cheaper than everything that David [Hemmings] had in mind. David went on holiday after the film. By the time he got back from holiday they'd taken the thing away and they'd cut it themselves and had already started to try and sell it and David freaked at that and that's why the thing only came out in Germany because he was able to stop it. [337][David Bowie Star Special (BBC Radio 1, 12 May 1979 tx 20 May 1979)]

Hemmings returned to London to work on a new edit, cutting it from 147 minutes to 105 minutes for its UK opening the following year.

Friday November 17

Bowie and entourage arrived in Melbourne, checking in to the Hilton Hotel, opposite Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Breaking Glass 3:28 / Art Decade 3:10 / Ziggy Stardust 3:32

Live 7-inch EP released on RCA
UK (BOW 1) and Europe (PB 9337)
Chart peak UK 59

Saturday November 18

Live: Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne

The MCG is the iconic home of Australian cricket and football with a capacity of 40,000 – the largest venue Bowie had played to date.

Determined Melbourne fans had been camping outside the venue for three weeks before the concert to get in first for the good vantage points.

The tickets promised 'We play rain or shine'. Melbourne, notorious for its inclement weather, obliged with a downpour that never let up throughout the entire concert. The stage was so slick with water that Bowie slipped and almost fell into the front row. The energy of the crowd kept him in a jovial mood and he substituted the word 'rain' when they played Fame.

Sean Mayes (1999): It was pouring and the bedraggled fans had a punk look with their ruined hair and streaky make-up. But the mood was fantastic – when you're soaked you don't give a damn. [022][Mayes, Sean. Life On Tour With David Bowie: We Can Be Heroes (Independent Music Press, 1999)]

Adrian Belew (2000): That was an incredible show. There was a huge expectation and everyones waiting for you to come out and finally you do come out and there's this concern whether everyone will be electrocuted! [004][Buckley, David. Strange Fascination (Virgin, 2005)]

Debra Robertson, The Sun: It was a truly miserable night in Melbourne. More than 25,000 fans gathered to stick by their hero through his three-hour show. It was well worth the drenching. At least that was the general feeling of fans who stayed. The crowds even had the patience to wait for Bowie while he took intermission – so he could show off the gear from his unique wardrobe. In a considerate gesture, he told them he wouldn't be long. During the second half of the show, the crowd went wild. Bowie almost caused a riot at the end when he threw his microphone into the crowd. [251][Robertson, Debra. Bewitching Bowie (The Sun, 21 November 1978)]

Sunday November 19

It was still raining as they left Melbourne and flew to Brisbane.

The Courier Mail: If it had not been for the security entourage surrounding the 31-year-old singer and actor, no one would have realised he had arrived. He and the guards walked quickly across the tarmac to a fleet of waiting limousines. He smiled pleasantly and said hello to photographers. Inside the Ansett terminal an agitated American gave orders to Brisbane tour promoter Harvey Lister. He seemed to feel security was not tight enough.

Bowie and the band had a couple of spare days in Brisbane before the next concert. Fans were already camping outside the venue gates – some of them since Friday – with canvas awnings spread above their sleeping bags. [094][Courier Mail, 20 November 1978. Four Guards – But No Fans]

Monday November 20

Monday was the first wedding anniversary of Tony Mascia (Bowie's driver) so the entourage headed off to a couple of Brisbane nightclubs to celebrate. Peter Maslen, future member of Australian band Boom Crash Opera, was drumming in the house band, Stax, at the Top of the State club when Bowie and his entourage arrived:

Peter Maslen (2010): Being an early weeknight, there weren't many people out, so Bowie et al had a hassle free venue in which to drink and party. The champagne was flowing that night. Stax played a variety of music, but when we saw who had arrived, we played our most funky tracks.

In a break, Dennis Davis who had heard us playing BT Express and Stevie Wonder songs asked me if he could play my kit. People kept getting up and jamming on stage and Dennis Davis loved playing drums to BT Express and T-Connection songs.

The house band from the nightclub at Lennons Plaza arrived and joined in. I was back on the drums (Dennis wanted to sing by this stage) with Barry Sullivan on bass, most of the Bowie band playing guitars and keyboards to some funky tune and as I looked up out of my drunken haze, I see David Bowie on the centre mic singing something that resembled Fame. I remember saying in my head ... “I'm onstage, playing with David Bowie!!” [381][bowiedownunder.com – 1978 Low/Heroes Tour (AUS/NZ)]

Tuesday November 21

Live: Lang Park, Brisbane

Rory Gibson, Brisbane Telegraph: Station To Station was stunning. Roger Powell unleashed an awesome sound from his synthesisers, giving the impression of a giant train speeding between the speaker banks. Bowie, if you were close enough to see him, oozed a talent and stage presence that is rare. His movements were fluid and exact and the famous voice was a powerful and as versatile as expected. The sound system was huge and the music that poured out of it was crystal clear. [130][Gibson, Rory. (Brisbane Telegraph, 22 November 1978)]

So huge was the sound system, there were many noise complaints.

Brisbane Telegraph: It was reported that the noise was loud enough to be heard 6 km away. Residents of the suburbs of Paddington, Bardon and Milton described it as “intolerable”. [069][Brisbane Telegraph, 22 November 1978] [also Hinze Hits At Noisy Pommie Star (The Sun, 22 November)]

Courier Mail: One Bardon man said the concert drowned out the television. A spokesman for the concert promoters, the Paul Dainty Corporation, Margaret St. George, said there were only eight telephone complaints about noise. [095][Courier Mail, 22 November 1978. Some Glum Over David's Strum]

Wednesday November 22

Bowie and the band returned to Sydney and the Sebel Townhouse. On the night of their arrival, Dennis Davis and Roger Powell jammed with Bette Midler's band at the Manzil Room.

Thursday November 23

Bowie visited Peter Frampton at his hotel. “he's very friendly,” Bowie told Mayes. “Just as sweet as he used to be in school.” Bowie had gone to the same school as Frampton, whose father was Bowie's art teacher.

In the evening Bowie, Coco and Mayes went to see Bette Midler's show at the State Theatre, standing at the back* as all seats were sold out.

* Author note: I was there in standing room too, completely oblivious.

Friday November 24

Live: RAS Showground, Sydney

Demand was high with all 40,000 tickets quickly sold. The first show was subdued, but went well, according to Sean Mayes*.

*Author note: I agree – I was there and it was subdued, perhaps due to the very hot still night or the mostly mainstream rock audience's expectations.

The Australian office of RCA presented Bowie with a plaque for Outstanding Sales, which he later donated to a charity.

Saturday November 25

Live: RAS Showground, Sydney

The second Sydney show was said to be the best of the whole tour.

Les Murray, The Sun: His stunningly diverse material … if anything outmatched the quality we recalled on record – in many cases his superb seven-piece band dabbling inventively with the new arrangements. Re-emerging in angelic white after his own intermission, from the rear of the arena, he looked like some divine prophet's post-resurrection apparition in front of his beguiled multitude. [224][Murray, Les. The Divine Mister B (The Sun, 27 November 1978)]

Sunday November 26

On their last day in Australia, Bowie and the band drove north to Gosford where Dennis Garcia had a bungalow near a small lake. They returned in the evening to celebrate the end of the Australian tour with The Angels at the Sebel Townhouse.

John Brewster, guitarist (2012): I'm sure we were probably imbibing things more than we should have – I remember the beginning of it, I don't remember the end too well!

Monday November 27

Bowie remained in Sydney while the tour party took an early flight to Christchurch, New Zealand.

Tuesday November 28

Television: Willesee at Seven
Seven Studios, Epping
Interviewer: Mike Willesee

A 13-minute interview with clips of Space Oddity, Heroes and Just A Gigolo.

Wednesday November 29

Live: Queen Elizabeth II Park, Christchurch

As The Angels were unavailable for the New Zealand dates, the support was New Zealand-born Australian guitarist Kevin Borich. The QEII Park was an open-air athletic stadium built for the 10th Commonwealth Games, which opened at the venue in 1974.

JD McLellan (Bowie fan): DB only faltered once: to interrupt the set to berate some members of the audience for giving the Nazi salute and seig heiling him. He made some comments about how the National Front would soon be raising their heads in our country and that we shouldn't be seduced by them. “That's no way to be a rebel,” he said, then performed Rebel Rebel. [381][bowiedownunder.com – 1978 Low/Heroes Tour (AUS/NZ)]

December 1978

Friday December 1

Bowie arrived at Auckland airport where heavy security had been laid on, but there were no crowds – only five photographers awaited his arrival. The tour party checked in at The Mon Desir, a single storey hotel backing on to a beach at Takapuna.

Saturday December 2

Live: Western Springs, Auckland

41,000 turned out to see the concert at Western Springs, an open-air natural amphitheatre stadium. Bowie set a national attendance record, beating previous record holders The Rolling Stones and Neil Diamond. With fans milling everywhere, the limos had to clear a path through the cars and crowds to reach the backstage area.

After the interval, the band came on holding cameras. Bowie wanted them all to take pictures of the audience as gesture of tribute.

Sunday December 3 – Monday December 4

Travel: Auckland - Sydney - Tokyo

At 7.30pm the party began the four-hour flight from Auckland back to Sydney, where they boarded a small JAL jet bound for Tokyo.

They landed at 6am at New Tokyo International Airport at Narita and were greeted by the tour promoter Seijiro Udo.

After exchanging a few words with the television crews filming their arrival, the party headed to the limos, which ground through the morning traffic. Three hours later they settled in at the Tokyo Prince Hotel in Shiba-koen, Minato-ku.

Antony Clavet, the make-up artist on Just A Gigolo worked on this last leg of the tour as he was living in Kyoto at the time.

Tuesday December 5

Travel: Tokyo - Osaka by bullet train

Wednesday December 6

Live: Koseinenkin Kaikan, Osaka (broadcast on Japanese radio)

The first show in Japan was small – the theatre held only 1500 – and the audience subdued. At a recent concert there had been a fatality when the crowd had rushed the stage. Dennis Davis tried to liven up the concert by occasionally bashing two Chinese gongs until they were taken away from him.

Television: Star Sen Ichi Ya

During the tour, Bowie did promotional rounds of radio stations and TV shows. Interviews in Japan suffered from the language barrier, resulting in stilted conversation. Bowie was accustomed to this and didn't appear to mind.

Thursday December 7

Live: Koseinenkin Kaikan, Osaka

The concert was livelier than the previous night – the audience was less inhibited and threw streamers. Dennis Davis painted his face like a Native American and Bowie won a huge cheer when he addressed the crowd in Japanese. After the show, the head of RCA in Japan, Tokugen Yamamoto, took some of the entourage to a restaurant and introduced them to its specialty dish, Kobe beef.

Saturday December 9

Live: Banpaku Kaikan, Osaka

Sunday December 10

Travel: Osaka - Tokyo

A small group of crying girls farewelled the touring party on to the train. On arrival in Tokyo, they checked into New Otani Hotel.

Monday December 11

Live: Budokan Arena, Tokyo

Tuesday December 12

Live: NHK Hall, Tokyo

The band was downbeat about the end of the tour, but after a few songs the energy came back with The Jean Genie.

Sean Mayes (1999): From that moment, the show took off and became a stormer, one of the best of the whole tour, all the higher for starting low. [022][Mayes, Sean. Life On Tour With David Bowie: We Can Be Heroes (Independent Music Press, 1999)]

Television: The Young Music Show
NHK filmed the concert and edited it to one hour for broadcast:

Warszawa / Heroes / Fame / Beauty And The Beast / Five Years / Soul Love / Star / Hang On To Yourself / Ziggy Stardust / Suffragette City / Station To Station / TVC 15

Event: Gigolo party, Bee Club, Roppongi

The end of tour party followed the concert at 10.30. The theme for the night was Just A Gigolo, due for release soon. The guests, mostly Europeans and Americans living in Tokyo, were invited to dress Twenties style. Sean Mayes played a short cabaret piece with a violinist and a singer performing the theme tune.

Following the final shows, Bowie and Corinne stayed on in Kyoto, socialising with Antony Clavet through December. Around this time Bowie invited him to do make up for the Lodger sleeve.

Monday December 25

Bowie spent Christmas in Kyoto with Zowie and Corinne.

ABOUT THE SITE    THE BOOK

Bowie Golden Years v2.0 will be launched in 2020

Bowie Golden Years v1.0 created and designed by Roger Griffin 2000
Bowie Golden Years v2.0 under construction 2017-2019

Photographs and texts have been credited wherever possible

this page updated December 9, 2019