Five essential David Bowie bootlegs

If you are a Bowie fan, these records are absolutely not to be missed.

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Iggy Pop and David Bowie at the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland 1977

The world sure was different in the days before smartphones and 24/7 Internet access. 

Iggy Pop’s tour of 1977 was billed as a solo tour. It wasn’t until one got to the show that they learned that David Bowie was performing too. Bowie played keyboard and piano in the band. Some audience members may have not even realized he was there, after all, who’s watching the keyboard player when Iggy Pop is on the stage? The Agora Ballroom, where this bootleg was recorded had a capacity of 2,000 people; in contrast, Bowie’s last solo tour had just wrapped up at with six consecutive nights at Wembley Arena, capacity 12,500. 

Imagine if something like this happened now. Word of the big star in the tiny venue would travel around the globe after the first night. Tickets for the subsequent shows would be impossible to get. 

There are actually a few bootlegs from this tour circulating, but Cleveland is the one I recommend. The band is tight, something you don’t usually associate with an Iggy Pop show. That must be Bowie’s influence. And amazingly for a bootleg, the sound is crisp and clear. 

Some versions append two live tracks from Bowie and Pop’s appearance on “The Dinah! Show,” a daytime chat show for middle America, where host Dinah Shore had to preface the performance by explaining the word “punk” to the audience. The appearance was truly unhinged.