Question for Ken Scott: Highlights of recording with Bowie and the Spiders?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by dead of night, Mar 6, 2006.

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  1. dead of night

    dead of night Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Northern Va, usa
    Mr Scott, you are one of the few people who can give a first hand account of recording such historic albums as Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, and Aladdin Sane. Can you share some memories and highlights?

    How did these songs come together? Did Mick Ronson actually write some of these riffs or did Bowie write them all? Who played the acoustic guitar on Rock 'N Roll Suicide? How about the beginning of Andy Warhol, where Bowie says, "It's Warhol, actually," was that premeditated? What was Bowie like in the studio during these days?
  2. g23

    g23 New Member

    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    this is so funny -- i was just listening to these 3 records and was thinking the exact same questions (esp. the Warhol one) -- sometimes i think the records were cut straight/live - sometimes i think they were built up

    hopefully ken scott wont mind sharing a few memories - not much is now due to the outer-worldly mystique that has developed around the period (which also seems to be, from an 'image' stand point, exactly what the aim was)
  3. whitenoise

    whitenoise New Member

    Sarasota, Florida
    won't that cut into his book sales? :D
  4. 22dRow

    22dRow New Member

    Interesting you bring that up. I've always heard it as Bowie lovingly making fun of Warhol. The Engineer says "Andy Warhol take x" and Bowie says "It's War-hole, actually. Hole, as in holes. Ha ha ha ha...." I read later that Warhol was very uncomfortable with the tune because he couldn't decide if it was a put-down. I'd say if anyone goes to the trouble of writing a song about you and puts it on Hunky Dory then be flattered. :)
  5. Jerry

    Jerry Grateful Gort Staff

    New England

    On the live cd from Santa Monica in '72, Bowie playfully makes fun of Warhol's New York accent before launching into the song.
  6. Emilio

    Emilio Forum Resident

    I think the Engineer says "Warrol" and Bowie corrects him: "it's war-hole, actually". I'd be really curious to know about those faint sounds at the end of "Life on Mars", a phone ringing, then someone saying "one glass of water" or something. But if I were to ask Ken Scott all the questions I want, an entire day would not be enough for the poor guy to answer them all. Perhaps Ken could create his own site and pick questions to be answered, like Tony Visconti did. Tony's FAQ ( is mandatory reading for anyone interested in David Bowie or record producing. I even tried to get a comment about Ken from him, but he was very diplomatic:

    Q: I'd like to ask you a question. You say "Scary Monsters" is the best album Bowie ever recorded, his "Seargent Pepper's". I agree with you that it's the best Bowie album out of the ones you produced, but my favorites are "Hunky Dory", "Ziggy Stardust" and "Aladdin Sane", which were produced by Ken Scott. I'd like to hear your opinion on those albums.
    Do you like them?

    When you listen to them (if you ever do), do you ever think "oh, this isn't right, I would have done it differently"?
    What tracks would you have recorded in a different way and what exactly would you have done that would have changed them?

    A: I could have fun with this one. First of all, I love Hunky Dory. What a great album! By the time Bowie recorded that, we were separated for 2 years -- there was no indication that he had this one in him when we parted after TMWSTW. In that time his relationship with Mick Ronson grew and he'd met Mike Garson -- two key players who would help shape his music over the next few years. Ken Scott was my engineer on some of TMWSTW. It was natural for David to turn to him in my absence (likewise Harry Maslin was my engineer for some of Young Americans).

    The other albums you mention are great and I wouldn't change a note of them. Of course I would've produced them differently, but that's alternate universe stuff -- it can't be done in this universe. Ken did a great job. He's a friend and a respected peer.

    Tony also comments on Mick Ronson and his input on "The Man Who Sold The World".
  7. DeRoufe

    DeRoufe New Member

    San Gabriel, CA
    That is a classy reply from Mr. Visconti. He's not beating around the bush, but hurts no one and does nto promote himself unnecessarily. Refreshing.
  8. Ken Scott

    Ken Scott Recording Legend

    I guess it's time to jump in.

    Let's see. Book deal, what book deal ?

    The talking on the front of AW is between db and myself. It basically comes down to whether it should be pronounced Warhole or Warhull. It was upfront of an early take and we kept it. That track was basically live.

    I love that Emilio thinks that what is being said at the end of MD is "one glass of water" because I have an English cover version of the song and that's exactly what they've put on the end. What is being said is "F*#king bastard" plus some other comments between Ronson and myself, not meant towards me by the way. It comes, once again, from an earlier take.

    As to whether the tracks were recorded live or built up, that depends on the track. There were always overdubs but some tracks had more than others.

    If there was an acoustic rhythm guitar it was db, always.

    Last answer for this go round. db was great in the studio. This was before his excesses. He was professional, knew what he wanted, fun and let's face it, when you're working with a vocalist who gets almost all of his vocal tracks in one take, all the way through, everything about the project seems heaven sent.

  9. John Carsell

    John Carsell Forum Resident

    Northwest Illinois
    Thanks Ken!

    Did most everyone involved with "Ziggy Stardust" know at the time it was going to be as big as it was?

    I think it's really held up well over the years IMO.
  10. mfp

    mfp Forum Resident

    Paris, France
    Thanks a lot for sharing this with us, Ken!
  11. Emilio

    Emilio Forum Resident

    MD? I said "Life on Mars". It does sound like "one glass of water", then "that's fine" and "OK", each left over from a different take, heard in sequence. I'll have to hear it again!

    Ken had no involvement in this, but if you turn up the volume at the beginning of "Fame" you hear a voice saying something like "timing" at the very beginning of the fade in. Of course you should immediately turn the volume down if you try to hear it, or the song will come crashing through your speakers. There is also a mysterious voice after "Rebel Rebel"'s final chord.
  12. Ken Scott

    Ken Scott Recording Legend

    My mistake. Yes LOM.

  13. 22dRow

    22dRow New Member

    Mr Scott: I'd love to know your opinion of the various Bowie CD remasters of the titles you produced for him. What CD version sounds best to you: the original RCA, Ryko, or EMI/Virgin?
  14. shepherdfan

    shepherdfan Forum Resident

    Eugene, OR
    Hi Ken,
    I also want to thank you as well for the comments. Thank you for taking the time out to do so.
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