What a complete twat



Every once in a while, usually at least one a month, correspondence from someone, somewhere, gives me what I call the "Bowie Goose-Bumps".

'What the hell are they?' I hear you ask... Well they are what make running this web site so fulfilling and worthwhile.

One such email that brought on the BGB's last week was a previously unseen roll of film shot at the Diamond Dogs photo session in 1974 with world renowned photographer TERRY O'NEILL.

Ooooo... eleven unpublished photographs on a contact sheet featuring David Bowie and a big bad dog!

The photographs from this photo session were given to Belgian artist GUY PEELLAERT who then took them back to Paris to produce some of his air-brush magic for the album artwork.

Diamond Dogs

One of the photographs was used for promotion of the album. I believe this was originally going to be the inside of the gatefold album cover, (don't quote me) but ended up instead used by MainMan for promotional purposes.

Recalling the particular photograph Terry said: "Unexpectedly the dog suddenly leaped up at me, and Bowie's expression changed. The harder you work and the more pictures you take the more decisive moments you capture. It's all down to experience, being ready for it, anticipating it."

You might recall that this particular shot below was voted runner-up in the 100 Greatest Rock 'N' Roll Photographs' in the Q magazine special publication in 2002, with the foreword written by David Bowie.

Just in case you can't read it, the book on the floor by David's platform booted foot is entitled 'The Immortal'.

And yes, I can't read it... if any of you bookworms out there know about this title, please put me out of my misery and let me know.

After searching the Internet for years, I'm buggered if I can find out anything about this particular book. Who wrote it? Anyone know?

The only promising thing I've come up with is a book entitled 'The Immortal Adventure' by Irma L. Lindheim written in 1928, which is described thus... Travels through Palestine. "A Jewish Soul's book of Zion." An American Zionist's travels in the British Mandate of Palestine, and her observations on the Jewish life and Zionist institutions she found... Zion? Hmmm or is this too much of a coincidence?

**Update: (thanks to TotalBlamBlam) - The book at db's feet was penned by Walter Ross. 'The Immortal' was a pulp fiction novel published in 1959 about a wild young actor called Johnny Preston loosely based on a famous actor of the time, cast from the same mould. There were many versions of the cover printed for different editions. The hardback in the O'Neill shot was originally a colour illustration and even Andy Warhol designed one edition complete with illustrations inside.

**Update #2: (thanks to Brooks) - the book shown at db's feet is the 1959 British edition published by Shakespeare Head.

The Immortal

David Bowie by Terry O'Neill

On the album cover of Diamond Dogs, David is depicted as a naked half-man, half-dog described as an 'alive strangest living curiosity' in a post-apocalyptic circus-side freakshow.

After the first inital printing of the album sleeve, RCA executives were worried that the neither regions on show would cause the album to be banned in American record stores so they decided on censorship and Bowie was emasculated courtesy of an airbrush.

A few years back Q magazine interviewed both Bowie and Peellaert about their memories of the Diamond Dogs cover...

"The only problem with the project is that they removed the prick," Peellaert commented. "I thought it was very sad."

AGI completed the manufacture of the gatefold sleeve, which had full-colour printing on both sides. Richard Fiore (RCA Producion Manager) said that upon his receipt of the test cover, he noticed the dog-man's genitals resting casually on its thigh, and placed a call to RCA label management to simply notify them of the cover's content and ask their opinion. "Go with it" was the management's reply, according to Fiore, who now serves as BMG Direct's senior director of production.

Later RCA eventually reconsidered its decision to "go with the genitals" - but not before ordering a complete run of anatomically correct covers for Diamond Dogs' first pressing. Bowie himself had signed off on the cover, Fiore said, and the records were in the middle of being pressed when he received the call from management directing him to scrap the covers and replace them with a run of new covers that obscure the penis in airbrushed shadow.

While the incident cost RCA thousands of dollars in scrapped LP sleeves, the few surviving original covers fetch thousands today, sans record, amongst vinyl collectors.

Well, tarrah for now!

4th August 2004.

BW MB Profile...