Tony Visconti recalls how David Bowie was “terrified” the first time he met John Lennon

He was asked along to help break the ice.

(L-R) David Bowie, Art Garfunkel, Paul Simon, Yoko Ono, John Lennon and Roberta Flack at the 1975 Grammy Awards

(L-R) David Bowie, Art Garfunkel, Paul Simon, Yoko Ono, John Lennon and Roberta Flack at the 1975 Grammy Awards. Image: Tim Boxer / Getty

Longtime David Bowie producer and collaborator Tony Visconti has recalled how Bowie was “terrified” upon meeting John Lennon for the first time.

Speaking to the BBC for a new radio special Bowie: Dancing Out in Space, Visconti described the meeting, which took place before the two musicians collaborated on the 1975 hit Fame. He said that he was asked to accompany Bowie to the hotel room in order to “buffer the situation,” recalling: “About one in the morning I knocked on the door and for about the next two hours, John Lennon and David weren’t speaking to each other. Instead, David was sitting on the floor with an art pad and charcoal and he was sketching things and he was completely ignoring Lennon.

Visconti went on to say how the initially awkward atmosphere dissolved into something more jovial: “So, after about two hours of that, he [John Lennon] finally said to David, ‘Rip that pad in half and give me a few sheets. I want to draw you.’ So David said, ‘Oh, that’s a good idea’, and he finally opened up. So John started making caricatures of David and David started doing the same of John, and they kept swapping them and then they started laughing and that broke the ice.”

After this, Bowie invited Lennon to help out on his cover of the Lennon-penned Beatles song Across the Universe, as well as co-write and sing on the Young Americans closer Fame, which Visconti co-produced.

Bowie: Dancing Out in Space will broadcast on BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio 4 this Sunday evening (10 January).

Separately, a tribute concert featuring a star-studded cast is set to broadcast tonight (8 January), featuring a whole host of names from Trent Reznor to Corey Taylor to Yungblud. The concert marks the fifth anniversary of his death, as well as what would have been his 74th birthday.

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