Snapshot of a dream

NEw David HadfieldThere are fascinating stories in the press today describing a ‘newly-discovered’ early David Bowie demo. In fact, the demo is mentioned in Starman, although there’s more to the story, from the Konrads’ second drummer, David Hadfield. Here’s a snippet of my interview with Hadfield, with more of the background.

Hadfield had known a young Harry Webb, the future Cliff Richard, before he teamed up with the Konrads. His recruitment to the band brought its own controversy, for David’s friend George Underwood remembers being booted out of the Konrads with threats at the same time – a sacking his Bromley Tech friend did nothing to prevent! Hadfield doesn’t remember the incident. But he does remember that one striking aspect of the future David Bowie was already in place; his self-possession and ability to compartmentalise his life.

You say he had something of the boy most likely to, in the way that Harry Webb did, how did that manifest itself? In his enthusiasm? His focus? Or embryonic charisma?

It’s the charisma… they were [both] going to do something with their musical career,it just seems to be written all over them, you just got that feeling.

What was he like to talk to? Was he well-spoken or did he have that kind of London, mockney voice?

He was simply very enthusiastic. Voice-wise there was nothing particularly outstanding, but the way he carried himself and did his hair, he just wanted to be part of show business and you could feel that .

Did he still have his plastic Grafton?

Yes he did. Although memorabilia from him, as I’ve found to my pain is not very popular, much to my surprise. Cos I’ve still got the first recording.

The Decca One?

I Never Dreamed, which was done in the rehearsal hall in St Mary’s. I’ve still got a B&O tape recorder with the tape, from when I started recording rehearsals and what not. We’d actually been in RG Jones, Papa Jones’ place which was an old Nissan shelter, rounded roof, and he’s the one got me interested in recording. At one point we had a couple of people who tried to manage us, one was a gay photographer guy, the other one paid for us to do some sort of demo, I think he was one of the local promoters. Nothing ever came of it and that was that.

Bob Knight helped get the Decca session so this was way before?


So tell me about the song, I Never Dreamed.

It was one of David’s first efforts of writing with Neville. It’s alright. We realised everybody was writing at that point. And we were just trying to write. I started going round to publishers trying to get material; you were placed in a league list of what you were allowed to hear, oh no [you can’t have that song], so and so is listening to that, publishers were ruling roost over bands that didn’t write so we decided we’d have a go.

You rehearsed at Neville’s house, did you ever go round to David’s?

Umm, yes, but it was, what shall I say, I don’t think any of us actually went into the house. I think he had some sort of family problems, I never could put my finger quite on what it was. But when we used to arrive to pick him up in the van, he’d come out of the house, shut the door and get in the van – and that was it. It seemed to be a sort of no go area for the rest of us. I don’t know why, I’m not sure.

But he didn’t ever show any self-consciousness about that?

No, not at all

One thing people who’ve worked with him later say is that even when there were crises or things had gone pear-shaped he’d stay quite calm. If he was dissatisfied he wouldn’t tell you, and he had an unusually calm demeanour. Does that sound familiar to you?

Yes, I think this house thing illustrated that. There was maybe just vague suggestions of something going on with his mother. Although we were all politer in those days, you never pried into people’s backgrounds or anything like that. But he was (insistent on) doing better gigs and that sort of situation but I was very reluctant to throw out the smaller gigs until we got some sort of way knowing the same amount of money as the bigger ones.

Categories: Bowie

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