David Bowie and Apple Records

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Dr. Weber, Oct 16, 2005.

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  1. Dr. Weber

    Dr. Weber New Member Thread Starter

    Nicholas Pegg says in his authoritative book, The Complete David Bowie, page 418, that manager Kenneth Pitt was rejected by Apple Records in May 1968. I know that Apple was a new, small label initially besieged by numerous musicians, managers, agents, artists, and hucksters, and that the individual members of the Beatles were directly involved with many acts signed to the label, as examples, McCartney with Mary Hopkins and Badfinger, and George Harrison with Jackie Lomax, but who in the Apple hierarchy actually listened to the submissions and presentations? Who rejected Bowie? Neil Aspinal, Alistair Taylor? Did one of the Beatles pass judgment on the youthful Bowie's Decca recordings?

    Dr. Weber
  2. crimsoncing

    crimsoncing New Member

    virginia beach
    From what I remember from all the Books thu out the years, The office was completely swamped with tapes.
    Most of the artist signed were people either the Beatles likes themselves or the close staff around the Beatles like some of the people you mention. I think they gave up going Thu the tapes very EARLY on. James Taylor came thru Paul's brother In law, Badfinger came Thu Mel Evans. Billy Preston Thu George and because he work with and knew the Beatles for years....

    When you look at the releases by Apple, almost ever artist had a "connection" with the Beatles be it past or present.

    the one near miss I always found amusing (And add a Little by the grace of God....) was George wanted CSN on the label. They even recorded a version of "Bluebird"..but at the last minute, due to problems with the labels the guys all belonged to, this deal fell Thu.

    Bowie being turned down by Apple in the long run was a very good thing.
  3. peerke

    peerke Isabelle or Sophie?

    That wouldn't have been a déja vu, but rather clair voyant. I think you mean 'Blackbird'. 'Bluebird' was only written some 5 years later!

    And I have heard that it was because John didn't care for their sound that the deal fell through.
  4. Tim Casey

    Tim Casey Active Member

    Boston, MA USA
    Plus, Bowie in 1968 wasn't really worth signing - and this is coming from a huge Bowie fan!
  5. Jim Foy

    Jim Foy Forum Resident

    Tm Casey wrote:
    "Bowie in 1968 wasn't really worth signing"

    Wasn't 'Love You 'Till Tuesday' a hit that gave a young Bowie some credit ?

    (I don't know much about Bowie which is my reason for asking).
  6. JonUrban

    JonUrban SHF Member #497

    I thought "Bluebird" was a Buffalo Springfield tune. If so, it had to be already around.

    Graham Nash has said that they did not "pass" the Apple audition!
  7. johnnyyen

    johnnyyen Forum Resident

    I'm not surprised Bowie wasn't signed in '68. He would probably have been leaving the Decca stuff behind and writing for his debut album "Space Oddity" Even the demo version of the title track doesn't betray what a great track it would become and his first album is fairly weak. It took Bowie a while to get into his stride and he didn't show much promise until The Man Who Sold The World in '71. You could never have predicted then what he would eventually produce.

    Love You Til Tuesday wasn't a hit. Space Oddity was his first succes but he had to wait 3 years to have another hit, Starman.
  8. peerke

    peerke Isabelle or Sophie?

    Nope, their version of 'Blackbird' is released on the Crosby, Stills & Nash box set.
  9. John Carsell

    John Carsell Forum Resident

    Northwest Illinois
    I read once where Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac were also considering on signing with Apple and Lennon was interested.
  10. yesstiles

    yesstiles Forum Resident

    What are you saying "Nope" to?

    So anyway, was the Bluebird reference a mistake? Because Stills had a song called Bluebird? Did CSN attempt a version of that?
  11. peerke

    peerke Isabelle or Sophie?

    On the box CSN box set (which I don't have here, beacause I'm at work) they explain that they especially came to London to try to get on the new Apple label. They rehearsed and recorded a version of Macca recently released 'Blackbird' (it was autumn 1968) to impress the bosses. George was all in favor, but John vetoed it.

    So, in this context, it is clearly 'Blackbird' that is meant and not 'Bluebird'. Not Macca's composition for Band On The Run, nor Buffalo Springfields'.

    The nope was thus meant to 'Bluebird' as a Buffalo Springfield tune, which of course it is, but has nothing to do with their trying to sign on Apple.

    By the way, wasn't this same thing discussed some months ago?
  12. Chief

    Chief Over 10,000 Served

    Oh my! Buffalo Springfield's "Bluebird" (written by Stills) is one of Buffalo Springfield's finest moments, and a Stills career highlight. CSN/CSNY worked on a song called "Bluebird Revisited" which was a contender for Deja Vu. They played it live throughout their first tour in 1969. Many years later they covered the original "Bluebird" in their live set.

    Sounds like someone mistakenly referred to CSN recording "Bluebird", when in fact they meant "Blackbird". Then someone else referred to the McCartney song "Bluebird" released on Band On The Run.
  13. Emilio

    Emilio Forum Resident

    This story was originally revealed in Ken Pitt's book, "David Bowie, a Pitt Report". It's there on page 113:


    I lost no time in trying to find another recording contract for David. His official release from Decca was dated April 22 and at 6.30 in the afternoon of the 23rd I was in the office of Terry Doran, who ran Apple Music Limited for the Beatles. I had recently met Terry, who had come down from Liverpool with Brian Epstein, and I wanted to sound him out the possibility of David recording for the Apple label. (...)

    Terry, whose main responsibility was for the Apple publishing division, was naturally disappointed that the publishing rights to David's work would not be available for two years, but nevertheless he offered to speak to the people at Apple records. On the 24th Terry sent the following memo to Derek Taylor: "Please find enclosed album and information on David Bowie whose management has approached us with a view to being on the Apple label. Are you interested?"

    Had David not been keen on recording for Apple I would not have tolerated the deplorable organization, sheer amateurism and downright rudeness that confronted us during the next three months, the time it took Apple to give us a decision. The situation did not improve when Peter Asher was given the job of Head of A&R. I had not seen Peter since 1964 when with Gordon Waller he was enjoying some success as the pop duo Peter and Gordon and had joined the Manfred Mann American tour. It now seemed to me that his only qualification for joining Apple was that his sister was the actress Jane Asher, girl-friend of Paul McCartney. It took me some considerable time to make contact with him, but when I did he told me that the label was not interested in David. I asked me if he would let me have a letter to that effect and on July 15 he wrote: "As we told you on the phone, Apple Records is not interested in signing David Bowie. The reason is that we don't feel he's what we're looking for at the moment. Thank you for your time." Peter Asher couldn't spare any of his own time to personally sign the terse letter, his name being inscribed by a secretary whose initials were CO.

    I don't suppose the Beatles ever knew that David had been turned down by their own recording company, but the experience seemed to chasten him and he became less concerned with his immediate recording career and content to plod along doing his best at whatever came his way.


    End of transcript. Pitt mentions Manfred Mann because he had been their manager as well.
  14. Lord Hawthorne

    Lord Hawthorne Currently Untitled

    Portland, Oregon
    While the Beatles were turning down these talents, they did try to sign up Tiny Tim, who was already taken.
  15. Dr. Weber

    Dr. Weber New Member Thread Starter


    Thanks for the fine, informative response. I suspected the Pitt book would provide the answer. Until reading the passage in the Pegg book, I never realized that Pitt had approached Apple Records and, beyond, that Bowie was "keen on recording for Apple." Apparently a good number of talented musicians wanted to be affiliated with the Beatles.

    As for hearing little if any reason for signing Bowie to a recording contract prior to "Space Oddity," I understand but believe this perspective is removed from the historical context. Other British bands at the time, the mid- to late-60's, were recording in a similar absurd, twee, silly, childish style, Roy Wood and the Move, Jeff Lynne and the Idle Race, the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, and even the Beatles on occasion, which isn't to suggest that "The Laughing Gnome" is the artistic equivalent of "Mr. Apollo" or "Yellow Submarine." No, far from it. Yet enough people at the time heard enough promise in Bowie's initial compositions to invest time and money. Who among them, Bowie included, could imagine Low in 1968? Thank goodness record companies at the time allowed for and supported creative growth in artists.

    It's also worth noting that on recent tours and at special concerts, Bowie has performed a few of his pre-"Space Oddity" songs live for the first time in over thirty years, among them "Can't Help Thinking About Me," "I Dig Everything," "The London Boys," and at the 2001 Tibet House benefit concert, "Silly Boy Blue," from 1966.

    Thanks again, Emilio. Dr. Weber (who needs to buy the Pitt book).
  16. Chris M

    Chris M Senior Member

    Baton Rouge, LA
    Can't Help Thinking About Me is fantastic!
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