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Music

David Bowie's biggest regret about Elvis Presley

During the 1970s, although Elvis was still very much recognised as The King, his star had undoubtedly faded, and the new generation had more interest in contemporary artists like David Bowie. The Starman had successfully usurped him in popular culture, and Bowie also regretfully managed to upstage Elvis at his own concert.

This incident left Bowie with immense guilt, and it was never his intention to make Elvis the supporting act during his own headline show. After all, the English singer wrote a song for the man himself, and there were talks about Bowie producing for the singer for a period. However, both sets of plans failed to materialise.

Bowie wrote the track ‘Golden Years’ with Elvis in mind, which he eventually included on Station To Station after Presley had rejected it. The pair shared a manager at RCA Records, who initiated the idea, but ultimately, Elvis decided it wasn’t a fit for him.

In 2002, Bowie opened up about their paths almost crossing and revealed: “There was talk between our offices that I should be introduced to Elvis and maybe start working with him in a production-writer capacity. But it never came to pass. I would have loved to have worked with him. God, I would have adored it.”

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If they did start working together, it would have been a turn-up for the books, especially considering how their relationship began in 1971, a time when Bowie was in attendance for Elvis’ show at New York’s Madison Square Garden and stole the attention from the man on stage.

Bowie was still relatively new to fame and, in his later years, would have worn something that would allow him to camouflage with the rest of the crowd, but, instead, he naively attended the performance in full Ziggy Stardust mode.

“I came over for a long weekend,” Bowie once remembered. “I remember coming straight from the airport and walking into Madison Square Garden very late. I was wearing all my clobber from the Ziggy period and I had great seats near the front.”

He added: “The whole place just turned to look at me and I felt like a right c***. I had brilliant red hair, some huge padded space suit and those red boots with big black soles. I wished I’d gone for something quiet, because I must have registered with him. He was well into his set.”

It was a rookie error, and the audience can’t be blamed for shifting their attention to Ziggy and away from Elvis because he was the one currently occupying the charts. It was never Bowie’s attention to become the star of the show, and despite being well-intentioned, he was still riddled with guilt for creating a red-haired bollard between Presley and the Madison Square Garden crowd.

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