To honor the bigger than life memory of David Bowie, who died Jan. 10 of cancer at 69, here’s a collection of some of his more rare recordings and interviews.
The first one may not be so rare, but it’s a rare and wonderful story worth retelling. It’s from the 1977 Bing Crosby’s “Merrie Olde Christmas” TV special. Crosby and Bowie were supposed to sing “The Little Drummer Boy.” But Bowie didn’t like it, so composers Ian Fraser, Larry Grossman, and Alan “Buz” Kohan “left the set and found a piano in the studios’ basement. In about 75 minutes, they wrote “Peace on Earth,” an original tune, and worked out an arrangement that weaved together the two songs,” according to a 2006 Washington Post story. The unlikely duo delivered a perfect performance after less than an hour of rehearsal.
Crosby passed away a month later.
Here is one truly rare recording. David Bowie performs John Lennon’s song “Mother,” recorded in 1998 in Bermuda. It was supposed to be a contribution to a John Lennon tribute album and come out in 1999 on Capitol Records. Alas, the release never materialized.
This one, dubbed “ultra rare,” is a different recording of the song “One Shot,” released in 1991 during Bowie’s time with the “Tin Machine” band. Since this is a recording that didn’t make to the final album, it is the quintessential a rare track—unreleased, unofficial.
And how about this 9-minute interview David Bowie gave to the Radio Luxembourg in 1973 after his temporary retirement from stage?
This piece of footage most probably comes from Italy in 1977 and captures Bowie performing his instrumental piece “Sense of Doubt” for a Sunday TV show L’altra domenica (“Last Sunday”). The track was released on the “Heroes” album in 1977.
Let’s wrap it up with this 1977 interview and backstage footage of David Bowie by Dutch AVRO TV.
There must be a good deal more of unique recordings that fans collected over Bowie’s long and varicolored career. Not every video marked “rare” is necessarily unique, obscure, or rare at all, but if you run into some truly rare pieces, let us know, as we’d be glad to enrich this collection.