David Bowie was “terrified” of meeting John Lennon for the first time

Tony Visconti has recalled the rather awkward first meeting between the two music legends

David Bowie was “terrified” when he met John Lennon for the first time, according to his longtime collaborator and producer Tony Visconti.

Visconti recounted the significant meeting while speaking on the new radio special Bowie: Dancing Out in Space, which will air on BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio 4 on Sunday evening (January 10).

The show is part of a series of Bowie programmes which are airing on the BBC this weekend to mark five years since the late star’s death.


Visconti has detailed how Bowie and Lennon first met in a New York hotel room before they collaborated on Bowie’s classic 1975 song ‘Fame’, saying that he was asked to accompany Bowie to the hotel room in order to “buffer the situation”.

“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 a charcoal and he was sketching things and he was completely ignoring Lennon,” Visconti recalled.

David Bowie
David Bowie in 1976 (Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

“So, after about two hours of that, he [John] 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,” Visconti said, adding that the pair’s “great friendship” was formed from there.

Bowie invited Lennon to work with him a week later on his cover of the Lennon-written Beatles song ‘Across the Universe’, which, along with ‘Fame’, ended up featuring on Bowie’s 1975 album ‘Young Americans’.


Bowie’s previously unreleased covers of John Lennon‘s ‘Mother’ and Bob Dylan‘s ‘Tryin’ to Get to Heaven’ have been shared for the first time today (January 8) to mark what would have been the late artist’s 74th birthday.

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