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|ELVIS WANTED BOWIE AS PRODUCER
January 21, 2016 The Guardian / Elvis Express Radio
It would have been one of the most unusual pairings in musical history – but how would it have sounded? According to a new account – from an unlikely source – Elvis Presley
asked David Bowie to be his producer.
The claim comes from country star Dwight Yoakam in an interview with US newspaper the Orange County Register. In the article, published before a concert in southern California,
the singer was asked about Bowie, whom he had met in 1997, and with whom he shared a love of Elvis.
Yoakam said Bowie told him that six months before Elvis’s death in August 1977, Presley had phoned asking him to produce his next record. “That was based on Elvis having heard
Bowie’s Golden Years, and I thought ‘Oh my God, it’s a tragedy that he was never able to make that,’” Yoakam told the paper. “I couldn’t even imagine 1977 David Bowie producing
Elvis. It would have been fantastic. It has to be one of the greatest tragedies in pop music history that it didn’t happen, one of the biggest missed opportunities.”
Despite the disparity in rank – the King, asking a favour of the Thin White Duke – the request was not acted on.
Bowie was a dedicated Elvis fan, reputed to have an encyclopedic knowledge of Presley’s career, and the two shared their birthday – 8 January. Bowie said that he had originally
offered the song Golden Years, which appeared on the Station to Station album and reached the Top 10 in both the US and UK, to Elvis. The story goes that he asked his then
wife, Angie, to deliver the request, but she was too nervous to do so.
Since Bowie’s death last week, another link with Elvis has been uncovered. An Elvis song called Black Star – which remained unreleased for decades after being recorded in 1960
– was cited as a possible inspiration for his farewell album. The song’s lyrics say: “Every man has a black star / A black star over his shoulder / And when a man sees his black star
/ He knows his time, his time has come.”
Bowie produced other artists occasionally, usually those who were his heroes or friends. In the early 1970s he worked on Lou Reed’s Transformer, Mott the Hoople’s All the Young
Dudes and Iggy and the Stooges’ Raw Power. While his work on the former two was acclaimed, the third was more problematic, and more than two decades after its original
release, Iggy Pop went back to remix an album that had often been seen as tinny and trebly. Bowie fared better producing Iggy Pop’s solo albums The Idiot and Lust for Life.