The Vault: Bowie’s “Bad” Past Revealed

Brian Raftery | November 9, 2006 12:51 pm

Before he championed the likes of Secret Machines and Arcade Fire, David Bowie threw his weight behind The Astronettes, an early-’70s trio of back-up singers from London. We didn’t know much about them until recently, and just so we don’t screw this up, we’re going to quote from this Wikipedia entry:

The Astronettes were a trio of backing singers recruited by singer David Bowie, debuting at The 1980 Floor Show fan club concert recorded on 18-20th October 1973 at the Marquee Club, London. They consisted of his then-girlfriend Ava Cherry, his old schoolfriend Geoffrey MacCormack, under the alias Warren Peace, and Jason Guess, a friend of Cherry’s.

Bowie attempted to propel the group to fame, shortly afterwards taking them to London’s Olympic Studios to record an album with himself as producer. The sessions were eventually abandoned as Bowie’s own album, Diamond Dogs, took up more of his time. The masters remained in the possession of Tony DeFries, then manager of both Bowie and the Astronettes, while the group became backing singers on Bowie’s subsequent American tour, and the album Young Americans.

In 1995, the sessions were collected in an album called People From Bad Homes, which was released under the name Ava & The Astronettes; it consists mostly of some excellent covers (Beach Boys, Springsteen) and a batch of Bowie-written songs that would eventually wind up on his solo records (albeit in slightly different incarnations). But enough of our jabberin’: Take a listen to what can only be described as the best $6 WFMU Record Fair discovery of all time:

Ava Cherry & The Astronettes – I Am A Laser [MP3, link expired] Ava Cherry & The Astronettes – People From Bad Homes [MP3, link expired] Ava Cherry & The Astronettes – God Only Knows [MP3, link expired]