Tuesday, September 20, 2011

David Bowie's Early Welsh Gigs

I’ve recently been reading Kevin Cann’s, Any Day Now, a comprehensive account of David Bowie’s life between 1947-1974. It is crammed with hitherto unseen photos and items of memorabilia relating to the singer. It also contains an exhaustive list of Bowie’s early live performances. Naturally I was keen to see if he had gigged in Wales during those formative years.

He first showed up in Wales in 1965. Apparently he travelled down to Cardiff alone to make a personal appearance at an unspecified record shop to promote his new single I Pity The Fool. Back then he was hardly a household name and so there was zero media coverage of the event. Cann’s book, though, has a picture of a painting by a local art student called Michael John which was used to promote the occasion. Beneath his portrait of Bowie (then still David Jones) are printed the words: David Jones, Personal Appearance, April 15th, 1965.

Bowie’s next visit to Wales occurred on July 23, 1966, in Chepstow at an unknown venue. He performed there as David Bowie & The Buzz. Later that year (October 11) with the same band he played Aberystwyth University. They drove to Aberystwyth in a converted ambulance, stopping off en route at his then manager’s parents’ home in Forge, near Machynlleth. Apparently they went for a walk in the hills before returning to the house where they tinkled about on the family piano. At the gig itself they performed two 45 minute sets for which they were paid £50. They were supporting mod band Unit Four Plus Two.

The singer returned to Aberystwyth University on May 3, 1972, on his David Bowie & the Spiders From Mars, UK tour - one of the key tours of his career and probably his stand out Welsh gig.

*If you live in either Chepstow or Aberystwyth why not check out your local newspaper archive for the above dates to see if these gigs were advertised and in the process grab yourself some interesting Bowie memorabilia.