David Bowie

1972 – I was a 19 year old concert promoter, and had just signed a contract for a David Bowie gig. We were preparing for a great couple of upcoming months at the South Parade Pier in Portsmouth, UK.

In January/February 1972 I’d seen a couple of his first Ziggy shows in London – the Great Hall at Imperial College, which was probably their 3rd outing and Wallington Public Halls. David Bowie performed at South Parade Pier on Saturday March 4th, Ziggy Stardust was quickly being unveiled around the UK.

The Pier performance was after the December 1971 release of Hunky Dory, but before the release of the Ziggy Stardust album in June 1972 and the TV performance of Starman on Top of the Pops in July, which propelled him to stardom in the UK. It was a time of miners strikes in England with our posters stating “This concert is on regardless of power cuts!!” David was there with Angie, and the full Spiders band, although they were not billed as such at that time.

Preparation for the gig was difficult, finding a suitable generator, a piano tuner to work on a Saturday and other challenges that are all part of the life of a promoter and a concert goer has recalled that the gig couldn’t begin until everyone came downstairs – Bowie trying to make the crowd look as big as possible, ever the showman!

Bowie was learning his craft in 1972, quiet and keen to put on a show, and the resultant performances were stunning. His appearance cost me a princely £225! There’s a copy of the poster and contract below.

And the other gigs that followed in the next couple of months? Rory Gallagher and Sandy Denny who sadly are no longer with us. Rory Gallagher was supported by the 3rd ever gig by a heavily Bowie influenced Roxy Music – with Andy MacKay coming back the next week to hone his saxophone technique by watching Sha Na Na! Between that March date and June we also welcomed Jeff Beck, Fairport Convention and Lindisfarne to Southsea.

Thanks for the memories David.

Philip Haines