This week during a Sonos event honoring the legacy of David Bowie, it was revealed that Bowie sang for DEVO, and Mark Mothersbaugh might have the tapes!
Mothersbaugh recalled the night in the summer of 1977 when Bowie approached Devo after a set at Max’s Kansas City: “David Bowie came up and he said, ‘I’d like to produce you guys.’ And we said, ‘Well, we don’t have a record deal.’ And he said, ‘Don’t worry about it, I’ll pay for it.’”
To show he meant business, Bowie “came out on stage when we played our second show at Max’s that night,” Mothersbaugh said. “He came out on stage and goes, ‘This is the band of the future, I’m going to produce them this Christmas in Tokyo!’ And we’re all like, ‘Sounds great to us. We’re sleeping in an Econoline van out in front on Bowery tonight, on top of our equipment.”
Bowie ended up taking the band out on the town, putting Mothersbaugh up in his hotel room, and introducing the Akron, Ohio innocent to sushi.
A couple of months later, Bowie, Brian Eno, and Devo were in Conny Plank’s studio on the outskirts of Cologne, Germany, recording Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!. Well, most of Devo was there. The band’s bassist had missed his connecting flight because he was fighting with his girlfriend on an airport pay phone, Mothersbaugh said. Everyone else made the best of it: “Devo jammed with David Bowie, Brian Eno, Holger Czukay [of Can], and a couple other odd Germans that were electronic musicians that happened to be hanging out there.”
Recently, while bringing his Devo archive back to his studio, Mothersbaugh found a recording of the epic jam session. “I haven’t listened to it yet because I just found this tape,” he said, as jaws dropped in the audience.
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