Several legendary bands have faced rejection in their early days. In later years, to be fair, one imagines that David Bowie, as he was subsequently known, would have been rather tickled as the memory of these insults. The BBC said Bowie was ‘devoid of personality.’
The story of the BBC’s rejection of The Manish Boys, after their audition for the corporation’s Talent Selection Group is included in a new book, Bowie at the BBC: A Life in Interviews by Tom Hagler.
“I think there were seven people [on the panel], the great and the good and just some ordinary people,” he tells The Telegraph. “Only two gave them a hit and five said no, not good enough to go on the airwaves.”
Courtesy of John Peel, Bowie would get a second audition at the Beeb, and this time, he made the grade. In a taped message for an edition of This is Your Life dedicated to the iconic DJ, Bowie paid tribute to Peel’s enthusiasm for music, and noted with his tongue firmly in his cheek that Peel helped him get, “freewheeling access to a lifetime of singing all the wrong notes.”
Davy Jones and The Manish Boys’ appearance on BBC TV show Gadzooks! It’s All Happening in 1965 was not without controversy though. The show’s producer Barry Langford insisted that Bowie cut his hair, which he refused to do, and the group organised demonstrations at Television Centre with banners stating ‘Be Fair To Long Hair’. The band were allowed to appear on the show with the condition that if they got complaints, their fee would go to charity. The show was broadcast on BBC 2 on Monday, March 8, 1965. No complaints were made.