In the summer of 1971 David Bowie briefly fancied himself a starmaker, despite the fact that most of his own records hadn’t sold and he was still mainly known as the singer of a novelty one-hit-wonder about the moon landings. That didn’t deter him from trying to build a stable of amateur singers and “celebrities,” the primary inspiration being Andy Warhol’s Factory.
His work with The Arnold Corns and his recruitment of Mickey King to sing “Rupert the Riley” were the first of these designs, but when Bowie showed up at the BBC’s Paris Cinema Studio in early June for a radio broadcast by John Peel, he went the whole hog. This was Bowie’s first radio appearance in over a year, but rather than just showcasing himself and his new band, he brought along four other singers—Mark Carr Prichard (from The Arnold Corns), his old friends Geoffrey Alexander and George Underwood, and Dana Gillespie, for whom Bowie had just written “Andy Warhol.” The resulting session was something of a glam hootenanny, and as such is one of the odder moments of Bowie’s career.
Prichard sang Bowie’s “Looking For a Friend,” which was slated as the b-side to the Corns’ second single (never released). Prichard was the Corns’ lead guitarist and would play on the studio recording of “Friend” a few weeks later (while Freddi Buretti took over on vocals). It’s a standard blues rocker in the line of Crazy Horse or the Faces, with a rousing chorus and a (fairly) openly gay lyric. “Don’t have to be a big wheel/don’t have to be the end,” the singer tells his prospects—after all, a cruiser is the purest of democrats.
Recorded for the BBC on 3 June 1971, while the Arnold Corns single was cut on 17 June 1971. “Looking For A Friend” was recorded again in late 1971 during the Ziggy Stardust sessions and again never released.
Top: “Normko,” “Ladbroke Square, 1971.”