Young Bowie too 'amateur' for BBC

LONDON • A new documentary about the late British rock star David Bowie reveals judges at an early audition considered him "amateur-sounding" and "devoid of personality".

Producers of the film David Bowie: Finding Fame trawled the BBC's archives to unearth the scathing written verdicts from a 1965 "talent selection group" at the broadcaster.

The panel had reviewed a three-song audition by David Bowie And The Lower Third, one of many bands he featured in during his decade-long rise to fame in the 1960s.

"The singer is a cockney type, but not outstanding enough," the judges wrote, using the term for an East London native, according to previews of the new film to air on British television this week.

"There is no entertainment in anything they do," they added of the band.

"It's just a group and very ordinary too, backing a singer devoid of personality."

The 90-minute documentary is the final instalment in a trilogy about Bowie by film-maker Francis Whately.

It includes previously unseen photographs and interviews with Bowie's friends, collaborators and lovers as he tried to kickstart his career in the early 1960s.

Researchers also found footage previously thought lost of the singer debuting his Ziggy Stardust persona - a film described by Whately as "a Holy Grail" for Bowie fans.

It was made a month before his seminal Starman performance on the BBC's Top Of The Pops show in 1972, which is considered a watershed moment in musical history.

"It would fall apart if we played it, so it's had to be very carefully restored," Whately told Radio Times magazine, noting it may not be ready in time for inclusion in his documentary, which airs on Saturday.

Bowie, who died in 2016, eventually achieved stardom as a solo artist when he released Space Oddity in 1969.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2019, with the headline 'Young Bowie too 'amateur' for BBC'. Subscribe