Before David Bowie broke through in the early 70s, he spent nearly a decade in the wilderness trying to find his voice, develop a style, and attract the attention of record labels.
His first attempt at fame came in 1963 with The Konrads, a band that he formed when he was about 16. They were one of a half-dozen or so bands that Bowie dabbled in before decided it was best for him to work as a solo artist.
The Konrads played a bunch of gigs around London thanks to their agent, Eric Easton. He also managed the Rolling Stones, which sounds impressive in retrospect but in 1963, they were still an unknown entity. In early ’63, Easton arranged for the Konrads made exactly one studio recording. They’d hope to get an audition with Decca, one of the UK’s biggest labels, which was looking for a “beat group” (their quaint term for a rock’n’roll combo).
Decca really wasn’t sure what to make of this rock group thing–this, after all, was the label that rejected The Beatles, saying that “guitar groups were on their way out”–so it’s no surprise they didn’t spend much time on the Konrads.
There was no deal with Decca. The Konrads broke up and the demo tape was lost–until last week, that is, when Konrads drummer David Hadfield found it in (of all places) a bread basket. It’s now set to be auctioned for big bucks in September.
Read more about the tape’s provenance here as you have a listen to this sample. of “I Never Dreamed,” sung by Bowie and co-written with Hadfield.