The Beckenham Arts Lab, despite its rather grand name, was in reality a spare stall in the Three Tuns pub toilet in High Street, started by David to 'promote the ideals and creative processes of the underground, and do wee-wees'
He was battling hard to kick mime. Obviously not learning from previous lessons he took his one man mime act on the road again with Marc Bolan in February. They were developing a close friendship, Marc treating David's cuts and bruises which were inflicted apon him by angry mime-tormented Bolan fans.
He played The Free Trade Hall, Manchester on February 22nd; Colston Hall, Bristol on February 23rd; Liverpool Philharmonic on March 1st and The Brighton Dome on March 8th. Someone asked if he could play the piano also, but David declined, preferring to play concert venues.
Then he met Mary Angela Barnett, girlfriend of a talent scout for Mercury Records. She told him she liked his stuff, and David got a bit carried away, as one does when a girl tells a boy she likes his stuff.
She told her boyfriend that if he didn't sign David she would leave him. They guy signed David to Mercury Records. Then she left him anyway for David. Ouch.
The day David signed with Mercury was the very day he re-recorded Space Oddity. Ken Pitt tells the story:
'We were all a bit bamboozled that David had actually written a good song. My plan was to have him keep re-recording this song again and again, so he couldn't go wrong. It sure was better than recording mime anyway'
David was lucky in that producer Gus Dudgeon and arranger Paul Buckmaster had wondered into the studio by mistake, looking for Elton John. Before they knew what had hit them they had recorded on of the hit songs of 1969.
Space Oddity recieved much airplay due to the fact that the Apollo missions were in full swing. NASA would often play the song to the astronauts just the frighten the hell out of them. It nearly made number 1, until it discovered that it was just gas from the burrito it ate the night before.
An interview by the International Times captures the mood of the moment :
IT - So David, what is the song all about?
Bowie - It's about a guy trapped in outer space, didn't you listen to it?
IT - If the song reaches number 1, will you still continue with your Arts Lab project?
Bowie - Shit No! I'll be too busy snorting lines of cocaine off prostitutes bottoms, driving fancy cars and swimming in my pool of money
IT - So fame would change your outlook on life?
Bowie - Well Mary, people keep suspecting it's all about the music, they couldn't be more wrong. It's all about money and living a decadent lifestyle
It was a tough time for David. Despite winning music festivals in Malta and Italy by performing Space Oddity ('Perhaps he should re-record it', Pitt noted), his father died. Although it is inconclusive that winning music festivals save lives.
David threw himself into his work, which gave him a broken nose and dislocated shoulder. Putting that aside, he completed work on a new album, to be titled "David Bowie is Shit Hot'. The title was later shortened to 'David Bowie'.
Pitt put David out on the road, David wondered back in, Pitt put him out again and told him to join up with Peter Frampton's new band Humble Pie, 'Maybe some mime will cheer you up' he said.
Much to everyone's surprise David had finally kicked mime. He walked out on stage with his acoustic guitar and performed some folk, in front of hundreds of angry skinheads.
When he got out of hospital he was still undaunted. From October 8th to 26th he toured with Humble Pie, dodging bottles and lit cigarettes. Then things started to change, the odd pair of panties would fly at the stage. Followed soon after by the even pair.
By November David and Angela had moved in together. Then they moved out, moved in, moved out, in, out, and it was all done with. They also found a nice place to stay, Haddon Hall, near the Arts Lab in Beckinham.
On November 14th Phillips released the album 'David Bowie' which had been locked up for six weeks due to drunk and disorderly conduct.Tony Visconti produced all the tracks besides the Space Oddity one, despite what he tries to tell everyone. It was promoted with 'An Evening With David Bowie' held at the Purcell Room on the South Bank of London on November 20th. The night proved upsetting to David, something had gone wrong with his relationship with Ken Pitt, they argued often, Ken calling him 'asshole' and David responding in mime. David recalls the chain of events :
'I thought to myself, I don't need this jerk. So I organised the concert by myself. I booked the hall, brought the equipment, arranged the backing, lighting, catering, the lot. Unfortunately I forgot to tell anyone about it, so no-one turned up. It was the best damn show I ever did too.'
If that wasn't bad enough the critics just didn't seem interested in his album, the public didn't seem interested despite his chart-topping single, even David himself frequently forgot about it. He became depressed. So much so that he would slump in his chair with incorrect posture.
Late in the year he sent a letter to Angie, who was seeing her parents in Cyprus.
"Dear Angie, lets get married, I mean, it's not like I got anything better to do, I suppose you are ok, does it matter if I sleep with other girls? I'm tired. Lots of love - David"
2. And the eyes of them were both opened and they knew they were both naked, and Adam said to her, 'Stand back, I don't know how big this is going to get.'