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released October 19, 1973

UK (RCA RS 1003) US (RCA APL1-0291)
Chart peak UK 1 US 23

Side one
Rosalyn (Duncan-Farley) 2:27
Here Comes The Night (Berns) 3:09
I Wish You Would (Arnold) 2:40
See Emily Play (Barrett) 4:03
Everything's Alright (Crouch-Konrad-Stavely-James-Karlson) 2:26
I Can't Explain (Townshend) 2:07

Side two
Friday On My Mind (Vanda-Young) 3:18
Sorrow (Feldman-Goldstein-Gottehrer) 2:48
Don't Bring Me Down (Dee) 2:01
Shapes Of Things (Samwell-Smith-McCarty-Relf) 2:47
Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere (Townshend-Daltrey) 3:04
Where Have All The Good Times Gone (Davies) 2:35

David Bowie (vocal, guitar, moog, harmonica, tenor and alto saxophone)
Mick Ronson (guitar, piano, backing vocals)
Trevor Bolder (bass)
Mike Garson (piano, organ, harpsichord, electric piano)
Aynsley Dunbar (drums)
Ken Fordham (baritone saxophone)
Geoff MacCormack (backing vocals)

Produced by Ken Scott and David Bowie
Engineered by Dennis Mackay [credited as Denis Blackeye]
Recorded at Strawberry Studio, Château d’Hérouville, Pontoise

Oveerdubs and mixing at Trident Studios, London

Cover design by Mick Rock and David Bowie
Cover photography by Justin de Villeneuve
Masks by Pierre Laroche
Lettering by Ray Campbell

Back cover photography by Mick Rock

The back cover was designed around Bowie’s handwritten notes and Mick Rock’s photos shot at an Oxford Street studio.

Mick Rock (2002): He has occasionally played sax on records over the years, including tenor and alto saxes on Pinups. It’s like a transitional picture: he still has the Ziggy hairdo but without all the glitzy makeup and clothes. I recall the suit was by Tommy Nutter. [037]

Selected reissues

April 1984 RCA picture disc

October 1984 RCA CD

July 1990 Rykodisc/EMI CD
remastered with bonus tracks:
Growin' Up (Springsteen) 3:26
Amsterdam (Brel/Schuman) 3:19

September 1999 EMI remastered CD

January 2007 Toshiba EMI mini LP replica CD


Thursday July 5

At Hyde Park Hotel, two days after Bowie retired Ziggy Stardust, he began planning the Pinups covers album to be recorded at the Château d’Hérouville studio in France. Working through a pile of Sixties singles he selected 12 to record, including two each by favourites The Who, Yardbirds and The Pretty Things. Lulu dropped in to audition Bowie songs for her single Bowie had promised to produce, settling on The Man Who Sold The World and Watch That Man.

Lulu (2008): I didn’t think it would happen but he followed up two days later. He was über cool at the time and I just wanted to be led by him. I loved everything he did. I didn’t think The Man Who Sold The World was the greatest song for my voice, but it was such a strong song in itself. I had no idea what it was about. [298]

Bowie visited Reed at Morgan Studios to ask Jack Bruce and Aynsley Dunbar to join the Pinups sessions. Dunbar accepted. He had been in the Mojos, whose 1964 hit Everything's Alright was selected for Pinups.

Ken Scott (2006): The initial move of bringing in Aynsley worked. I don't think it would have been better with Woody and I'm all for new participants to stir things up a little. [394]

Jack Bruce declined so Trevor Bolder was called to a meeting at the hotel. He confronted Bowie about Woody’s sacking.

Trevor Bolder (1995): Mick told me to keep my mouth shut or I wouldn’t be working, because David would get rid of me as well. David had actually said to me, “If you don’t like it, you can clear off and we’ll get another bass player as well.” When everything calmed down, David said to me, “Come over here, I’ve got some songs to play you.” And he played me all the songs he was going to do on Pinups. [010]

Monday July 9

Bowie took the 10.30am boat train Victoria Station to Dover, Calais and on to the Château d’Hérouville studio complex in Pontoise, north-east of Paris.

Tuesday July 10 - Tuesday July 31, 1973

Le Château d’Hérouville, Pontoise

Bowie, Dennis Mackay and Ken Scott photo © Mick Rock

Low sessions

Ken Scott on the board at the Chateau

Le Château aka Strawberry Studio had become popular with bands looking for relaxed isolated locations where they could record whenever inspiration struck. Both Ken Scott (who engineered Elton John’s Honky Chateau) and Marc Bolan (who recorded The Slider there with Tony Visconti) recommended it to Bowie. There was also a financial advantage:

Ken Scott (2006): For a period of time in England there was a tax benefit to artists writing their songs and recording them out of England. They wouldn't get taxed as much if the money was kept outside of England and the money would be paid to wherever they wrote and recorded the songs. So that was the reason for recording in France. But of course Gus and I had done so much at Trident, we wanted to mix there so that's where we'd go for mixing. [417]

In sessions lasting up to 12 hours, Bowie and the band completed the backing tracks in the first week. Mike Garson and Trevor Bolder went home to England, as did Ken Scott whose wife had a baby due.

Mike Garson (1995): They were fun sessions. I didn’t know any of those songs, so they could have been written by anybody. I had never heard the originals. I was just enjoying Mick’s playing; he was just doing his thing. [010]

Trevor Bolder (1995): It was really bad... the band thing had gone then. Once you pull any member out of a band, it changes. It was sad not having Woody there. [010]

During the lull Martin Hayman from Rock arrived to report on the sessions. Bowie told him, “I've got all these records back at home, but we don't have them here or anything. We just took down the basic chord structures and worked from there. Some of them don't even need any working on – like Rosalyn for example. But most of the arranging I have done by myself and Mick… and Aynsley too." [141]

Wednesday July 11

Interviewed by Kid Jensen for Radio Luxembourg

I had a lot of good things told to me about [the Chateau], people like Elton John told me it’s a very good place and Ken Scott, my co-producer had worked here often with Elton and with other people and he suggested that I give it a try, especially for this kind of record, which is very much a hard rock album.
I’m retracing my own past really, my own likes and preferences for music in the early to mid 60’s. Very much the London sound, because we were at the height of the Liverpool sound which was sweeping England and America. And there was a lot of material that really went unnoticed in those days and that’s the kind of stuff I wanted to put down. Things like the early Yardbirds things, even things that had some kind of nominal success like ‘See Emily Play’. We’re doing a lot of very interesting tracks, all my favourites. [334]

Recording See Emily Play photo © Joe Stevens

Monday July 16

Recording: Strawberry Studio, Château d’Hérouville, Pontoise
Producers: David Bowie, Mick Ronson
Engineer: Andy Scott

Lulu single
The Man Who Sold The World
Watch That Man

As Ken Scott was only contracted to work on Pinups, he set the levels for the house engineer Andy Scott and left him to it.

Bowie conducted the session, playing the originals on a record player to refresh their memories.

Photos © Mick Rock

Lulu (2008): Bowie kept telling me to smoke more cigarettes, to give my voice a certain quality. [298]

They recorded one take of The Man Who Sold The World with Bowie providing a guide vocal for her – she recorded her vocals later at Morgan Studios – then two takes of Watch That Man.

Lulu (1973): It was amazing we got it together so quickly, because I was working, and he was working. I had two days, and flew over to Paris, did it and came back. [313]

Geoff MacCormack (2007): She's very easy to get on with. A really lovely lady. I remember wandering around the place with her one night singing soul songs. We sang harmonies together on a version of Aretha Franklin's Do Right Woman, Do Right Man that got us a burst of spontaneous applause from the studio technicians. [054]

Wednesday July 18

British Vogue / Pinups album cover photo session
Vogue studio, Paris

Photographer: Justin de Villeneuve
Make-up: Pierre Laroche

Twiggy (2012): He’d done a song called Drive-In Saturday and there was a line where he said, ‘She sighed like Twig the Wonder Kid.’ I heard it on the radio and went, ‘Oh my God, David Bowie just mentioned me in a song!’ I rushed out to buy it because I thought maybe I’d misheard it. [287]

Justin de Villeneuve (2012): By 1973 [Twiggy and I] were no longer a couple, but I remained her manager. We met Bowie a few times socially, and he mentioned that he wanted to be the first man on the cover of Vogue. I called them to suggest this, with Twiggy of course, and after a bit of hoo-ha, they agreed and we flew to Paris to do the shoot. ['My Best Shot' Interview by Sarah Phillips, The Guardian, May 17, 2012]

At the small Paris studio, Pierre Laroche devised and applied make-up masks to reverse the contrast of Bowie’s pallor against Twiggy’s Bermuda holiday suntan.

Justin de Villeneuve (2012): This worked out even better. When I showed Bowie the test Polaroids, he asked if he could use it for the Pinups record sleeve. I said: "I don't think so, since this is for Vogue. How many albums do you think you will sell?" "A million," he replied. "This is your next album cover!" I said. When I got back to London and told Vogue, they never spoke to me again. ['My Best Shot' Interview by Sarah Phillips, The Guardian, May 17, 2012]

Ken Scott was back for the last week at the Château. Bowie and Ronson worked on vocals and various overdubs. Ronson spent any spare time with his manuscript paper, writing string arrangements.

White Light/White Heat

Bowie was thinking of recording a Pinups 2 of American songs, but all they recorded was a backing track for White Light/White Heat, left unfinished. Bowie gave it to Ronson to use on his album Play Don’t Worry.

Mick Ronson (1975): I kept the 16-track and just overdubbed some guitars. After the first verse I made up the lyrics myself because I could never hear what Lou sung, couldn't make head nor tail of it. [158]

Sunday July 29

Dana Gillespie (2021): Angie and I flew in on Sunday morning and stayed for about 36 hours, as I had to be back – with Jesus – on Monday evening. Although we weren’t there long, Angie and I managed to act outrageously, with the result that music journalist Charles Shaar Murray, who was reporting for New Musical Express, assumed (wrongly) that we were lesbian lovers. Yes, we did walk around with our arms around each other, or with arms linked, but that was to stop me falling over whilst tottering around on the high heels Angie insisted I wear. We hung out with the band and ate with them and even sat in the control room for a bit. [Dana Gillespie: Weren't Born A Man, Bennion Kearny, 2021]

Photos © Joe Stevens

Charles Shaar Murray's report, with photographs by Joe Stevens, was published in NME August 4 (Bowie-ing Out at the Chateau) and August 11 (Tightrope Walker at the Circus)

Friday October 12

Sorrow (Feldman-Goldstein-Gottehrer) 2:53
Amsterdam (Brel-Shuman) 3:20

single released in UK
RCA 2424 UK chart peak 3


Friday October 19

Pinups album released



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