Credit: Gerald Fearnley/ACC Edition

Listen to a 16-year-old David Bowie’s first-ever demo recording

At a time when millions of people are forced to remain home amid strict social distancing measures, we’re revisiting some golden gems in the Far Out Magazine archives to keep us entertained.

With live music nothing but a distant memory in the current circumstances, a hint of nostalgia can fill our music fix and then some. In times of need we’re doing what one should always do in these circumstances; turning to the great David Bowie for guidance.

Here, through our ‘From The Vault’ section, we’re taking a look back at where at all began for The Starman with a somewhat rare demo recording made by a 16-year-old Bowie. The audio, quite bizarrely, was discovered in an old bread basket after being lost for years.

Recorded in a small studio in south London, a teenage Bowie delivered his song ‘I Never Dreamed’ which was put on tape alongside his first-ever band The Konrads. The track, sent to neighbouring record label Decca for consideration, was ultimately rejected.

The tape was rediscovered by David Hadfield—the former drummer of The Konrads—who found it in a bread basket while moving house. The demo sold for an eye-watering figure of £39,360 by Omega Auctions in north-west England who later said that “a bidding frenzy” led to Bowie fans overshooting the £10,000 estimation by the auction house by some margin.

Discussing the recording, Hadfield said: “David had no inclination to become a singer at this point, his heart and mind were focused on becoming a world class saxophone player. Our agent, Eric Easton, who also managed the Rolling Stones, asked us to do a demo so he could try and get us an audition at Decca.

“So in early 1963 I booked into RG Jones’ small studio in Morden. In preparation for the demo, David and our rhythm guitarist Alan Dodds wrote 2/3 songs. We had decided that we would do a couple of guitar instrumentals and one original song. I chose I Never Dreamed as it was the strongest, the other two were a bit weak.

“I also decided that David was the best person to sing it and give the right interpretation. So this became the very first recording of David Jones (Bowie) singing 55 years ago. There is no other recording of the demo featuring David as lead in existence.

“Decca initially turned us down, but when they eventually gave us an audition later that year, vocalist Roger Ferris was the lead voice and David sang backing harmonies.”

Stream some samples, below.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Delivering curated content