Bruce Springsteen : The day he didn´t want to record it with Bowie in 1974

Young Americans and an Englishman. Sigma Sound, Philadelphia. November 1974 Anti-clockwise from top left: Mike Garson, Bruce Springsteen, Tony Visconti, David Bowie . 

Apart from those pictured above, another man present on the night was journalist Mike McGrath who reported on the events of the evening for the November 26th 1974 issue of The Drummer magazine. Here’s a small excerpt from what is quite a large feature:

We arrived at Sigma Sound a little after eight. Producer Tony Visconti was arched over a mammoth soundboard, pressing buttons, being generally pleasant to the half-dozen engineers and musicians in the control room, and peering into the large windowed studio directly in front.

The album was practically finished. The first rough mix had been accomplished since Bowie recorded the basic tracks some weeks ago, and this week had been devoted to clean-ups and overdubs. This was the final night in the studio for the album – the final touches would now be made.

I’m Only Dancing (She turns me on) was being played back. Pablo was in the studio, overdubbing a cowbell and some chimes onto an already lushly produced cut. Visconti easily shows his pleasure with the final product as Pablo finishes up. The cut is full and rich, almost a Phil Spector R&B wall of sound – Bowie’s voice mixed way into the background.

Seven minutes to midnight: The door opens and in saunter Ed and Judy Sciaky, escorting the night’s special guest star, a road-weary Bruce Springsteen, fresh off the bus from Asbury Park, New Jersey. Bruce is stylishly attired in a stained brown leather jacket with about seventeen zippers and a pair of hoodlum jeans. He looked like he just fell out of a bus station, which he had.

It seems that one of the tracks Bowie laid down was Bruce’s It’s Hard to be a Saint in the City. Tony Visconti called Ed at WMMR and asked him if he could get Bruce into the studio.

An hour later, the time passing with some more overdubs and a few improvised vocals by Luther of the Garson band (who sings a fine lead and whose vocal power adds a lot of strength to an already powerful album), enter David Bowie and Ava Cherry, white haired soul singer for the band.

David breezes in, takes account of the night’s progress, lets his piercing eyes cast across the room a few times, listens to a tape and then leaves Tony to his work so as to chat with Bruce.

Five people hunched up in a far corner of the lobby, looking more like the fans (half a dozen of whom were still standing outside, savouring the vibrations) than the stars themselves.


David reminisces on the first time he saw Bruce – two years ago at Max’s Kansas City – and that he was knocked out by the show and wanted to do one of his songs ever since. When pressed for another American artist whose songs he would like to record (as he did for British artists on the Pin-Ups album), David thinks a while and replies that there are none.


Bowie is tall and skeletal. Red beret tipped extremely to one side, the other revealing a loose patch of orange hair, leaning away from ears that uncannily resemble a Vulcan’s up close. Intense hawk eyes; if they fix on you friendly it warms the room; unfriendly or even questioningly, you’re forced to turn away from them. Red velvet suspenders over high-waisted black pants and a white pullover sweater complete the bizarre outfit, which, like any other, grows on you as the hours pass.

In fact, Bowie grows and fleshes out as the hours pass. From the secluded, mysterious figure portrayed by the press into a man of odd habits, but more personable as some time passes between you.

After a promise to meet again and talk further in New York, Bruce heads off with Ed and Judy for a 5am visit to the Broad Street diner. Max’s Kansas City had been his first professional gig and Bowie was in from the start. Bruce leaves without having heard his version of Saint. The feeling is that it’s not ready yet.

Bruce even didn t listen Bowie ´s version that night 


Thanks to Blam Blam  for the info