The first known studio recording of the late David Bowie has fetched nearly four times what was estimated at auction this week, selling for nearly £40,000.
The 1963 demo tape of what is believed to be a teenage Bowie singing ‘I Never Dreamed’ with his first band The Konrads, and which was rejected by Decca, was sold by Omega Auctions in north-west England for a total of £39,360 after a “bidding frenzy” between two overseas bidders over the phone on Tuesday (September 11th).
The 18-minute tape was discovered by the band’s drummer, David Hadfield, earlier this year in an old bread basket in his loft. When news of the auction was announced back in July, it had been expected to fetch around £10,000.
Director of Omega Auctions, Karen Fairweather, said the tape was the last lot to be sold on the day, and had already reached £11,000 in pre-bidding before the auction began. “There was certainly applause when the hammer went down,” she remarked. “It's a fantastic piece of history.”
Auctioneer Paul Fairweather described the tape, likely the only copy in existence, as a “significant recording, completely unique” and offering a snapshot of “a musician who would go on to super-stardom.”
According to Hadfield, Bowie – then known as David Jones – was The Konrads’ saxophonist at the time the recording was made, but the band decided that he should take on lead vocals on the day.
“David had no inclination to become a singer at this point, his heart and mind were focused on becoming a world-class saxophone player,” he said.
“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. We had decided that we would do a couple of guitar instrumentals and one original song. 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.”
The audition failed and Bowie quit the group soon afterwards, and six years later, having changed his stage name, became a solo artist. The rest, as they say, is history.