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Aladdin Sane

released April 19, 1973

RCA RS 1001

Side one
Watch That Man 4:30
Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?) 5:15
Drive-In Saturday 4:38
Panic In Detroit 4:30
Cracked Actor 3:01

Side two
Time 5:10
The Prettiest Star 3:28
Let's Spend The Night Together (Jagger-Richards) 3:10
The Jean Genie 4:06
Lady Grinning Soul 3:53

David Bowie (vocals, guitar, harmonica, keyboards, saxophone)
Mick Ronson (guitar, piano, vocals)
Trevor Bolder (bass)
Mick Woodmansey (drums)
Mike Garson (piano)
Ken Fordham (tenor, baritone, alto saxophone)
Brian ‘Bux’ Wilshaw (tenor saxophone, flute)
Linda Lewis (backing vocals)
Juanita 'Honey' Franklin (backing vocals)
Geoff MacCormack (backing vocals, congas)

Produced by David Bowie and Ken Scott
Arrangements by David Bowie and Mick Ronson
Recorded at Trident Studios, London
Mixed by Ken Scott and Mick Ronson
Engineered by Ken Scott and Mick Moran

Cover designed by Duffy and Celia Philo
Photography by Duffy
Artwork by Phillip Castle
Make-up by Pierre Laroche

Selected reissues

May 1984 RCA picture disc

October 1984 RCA CD

July 1990 Rykodisc/EMI remastered CD

September 1999 EMI remastered CD

May 2003 EMI 30th Anniversary 2CD Edition
remastered with bonus CD:
John, I'm Only Dancing ['sax' version] 2:45
The Jean Genie [single mix] 4:07
Time [single edit] 3:43
All The Young Dudes [mono mix] 4:12
Changes [live] 3:20
The Supermen [live] 2:42
Life On Mars? [live] 3:25
John, I'm Only Dancing [live] 2:40
The Jean Genie [live] 4:10
Drive-In Saturday [live] 4:53
The six live tracks were recorded during the 1972 US Tour for the planned live album.

January 2007 Toshiba EMI mini LP replica CD

April 2013 EMI 40th Anniversary Edition CD


Bowie (1976): Aladdin Sane is Ziggy Stardust meets fame. Ziggy Stardust the album was an objective point of view and Aladdin Sane is himself talking about being a star, I think, and hitting America, because I’d had that first experience of America so I had plenty of material for it. Subjective talking, really. Showing the break-up. [332]

Bowie (1973): The album was written in America. The numbers were not supposed to form a concept album, but looking back on them, there seems to be definite linkage from number to number. There's no order; they were written in different cities, and there's a general feeling on the album which at the moment I can't put my finger on. It’s a feeling I've never yet produced on an album; I think it’s the most interesting album that I've written, musically as interesting as any of the things I've written. [216][Murray, Charles Shaar. ‘Goodbye Ziggy and a big hello to Aladdin Sane’ (NME, 27 January 1973)]

Mike Garson (2006): On the first run through of Aladdin Sane I played a blues solo and David said he wasn’t looking for that sound, so he asked me to play a Latin solo, then he told me, “That’s good, but I’m looking for that wild avant-garde music you were playing on the New York jazz scene in the Sixties” so I played that style and we recorded that in just one take! [191][Madman. Mike Garson interview (Bowie Zone 2, October 2006)]

Bowie (1991): You wouldn't think of bringing a fringe avant-garde pianist into the context of a straight-ahead rock and roll band, but it worked out well. It brought some really interesting textural qualities to the album that wouldn't have had quite the same feel on it if Mike hadn't been there. [153][Horkins, Tony. ‘Tin Machine: Bowie & Gabrels’ (International Musician, December 1991)]

January 1973
the cover

Aladdin Sane photo session

Kitchen Tool Shop, Swiss Cottage, Camden, England
Photographer: Brian Duffy
Designers: Brian Duffy, Celia Philo
Make-up artist: Pierre Laroche

Towards the end of the recording sessions, Bowie worked on cover ideas with photographer Brian Duffy.

Tony DeFries knew Duffy in the Sixties when he represented The Association of Fashion & Advertising Photographers. Along with David Bailey and Terry O'Neill, Duffy invented a new documentary style of fashion photography, producing a body of work that challenged conventions of portraits, reportage and advertising – he was one of the few photographers to have shot two Pirelli calendars, including the 1973 edition.

At his North London studio, Duffy introduced Bowie to Celia Philo, his design partner in the Kitchen Tool Shop, and Elizabeth Arden make-up artist Pierre Laroche.

Bowie (1987) I came up with the flash thing on the face – a lightning bolt. An electric kind of thing. Instead of, like, the flame of a lamp, I thought he would probably be cracked by lightning. Sort of an obvious-type thing, as he was sort of an electric boy. [184][Loder, Kurt. ‘Stardust memories’ (Rolling Stone 498, 23 April 1987)]

Duffy (2009): Bowie was interested in the Elvis ring which had the letters TCB [Taking Care of Business] as well as a lightning flash." [262][Rohrer, Finlo. ‘Why would you burn your life's work?’ (BBC News Magazine, 5 October 2009)]

Duffy noticed the National logo on the rice cooker in the studio bore a similar but shorter device, which he drew onto Bowie’s face. Laroche then filled in the blue and red with lipstick and applied a purple ‘death mask’ wash to Bowie’s face.

Aladdin Sane photo session © Duffy Archive


Duffy wanted to make him look like “a statue that’s wet”. Illustrator Philip Castle, known for his Clockwork Orange artwork, airbrushed a teardrop on Bowie’s collarbone, adding to the aura of stillness.

Castle had also worked with Duffy and Allen Jones on the Pirelli calendar, which they revisited for the inside gatefold. Castle applied a silver airbrush to Duffy’s photo, completing the statuesque androgynous image.

Following the success of Ziggy Stardust and The Jean Genie, DeFries was in a position to commission a lavish sleeve for the new album, reasoning that RCA would give it more promotional support to justify the expense.

Duffy (2009): Tony realised that in order to get the record company really going, you had to get them up to their neck in debt, which was of course a masterstroke. He wanted to make the most expensive cover he possibly could get a record company to pay for, because he realised that if it cost five thousand pounds, the record company were now having to pay attention.

Tony said, “Can you make it expensive?” No problem. One: dye transfer - a genius method of being able to spend the most amount of money to get a reproduction from a colour transparency onto a piece of paper. Two: get the plate made in Switzerland – the most expensive place in the world to get plates made. Then to employ me to design it and create it – even better, more wasteful. Then we went to Conway’s who were the most expensive typographical house – more money. [358][Duffy: The Man Who Shot the Sixties (BBC, 2010)]



Bowie Golden Years v1.0 created and designed by Roger Griffin 2000
Bowie Golden Years v2.0 2017-2020

Photographs and texts have been credited wherever possible

this page updated February 19, 2022