50 Years Ago: David Bowie Releases First Single Credited Simply As David Bowie
In the midst of the British rock and roll explosion of the early '60s, David Bowie was right there in the thick of it. Bowie released four singles between June 1964 and early 1966. Each of those singles, however, were credited to different bands. Davie Jones & the King Bees, the Mannish Boys, Davie Jones and the Lower Third, and David Bowie With the Lower Third. It wouldn't be until April 1966 that he would issue a record, "Do Anything You Say," simply under his singular, and newly adopted name of David Bowie.
Over the course of those early singles, Bowie essentially mimicked the style of bands like the Rolling Stones and Pretty Things ("Liza Jane" and "I Pity the Fool"), the Who (the feedback wash of "You've Got a Habit of Leaving Me") and the Kinks ("Can't Help Thinking About Me"). With the release of "Do Anything You Say," Bowie took all those influences, mixed in a couple of others, and tried again to break the singles market.
Issued on the Pye label in April 1966, "Do Anything You Say" is straight-up beat group pop, seemingly tailor-made for the charts. Produced by the legendary Tony Hatch, who had struck gold with the big-beat pop of Petula Clark and the guitar jangle of the Searchers, the record failed to chart in the U.K. The song itself is a fairly rocking track with classic Hatch production, but its paint-by-numbers identity was lacking somewhat in this year of open-door experimentation for pop groups. The flip side, "Good Morning Girl" opted for a more Animals-like soul sound that also fell through the cracks.
The band that backed Bowie, though uncredited on the single, was the Buzz. The members, John Hutchinson, Derek Fearnley, and John Eager would end up making more recordings with Bowie as he tried to find his own path, playing on various sessions between 1966 and 1967. The Buzz on this disc, however, are not to be confused with the Buzz that were part of the Joe Meek stable of acts who issued the mind blowing single "You're Holding Me Down" later in the same year.
Following his breakthrough success with The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars in 1972, Pye Records re-issued the single to cash in on his new found stardom, but again, the single failed to hit the charts.
Every David Bowie Single, Ranked Worst to Best