I could do with the money...
Leafing through Portuguese magazine Noticias Sabado recently, my attention was grabbed by the above feature on 71-year-old American Paul Mawhinney and his record collection, which he claims to be the largest on the planet...unfortunately for Paul, and as impressive as it is, it's far too big to get anybody interested in actually purchasing it.
I had read Mawhinney's story before and I have no reason to doubt the vastness of his unique record library. However, his account of how he helped launch David Bowie's career in 1973 may have become slightly clouded, having had to survive the journey through the disorientating pea-souper of the past forty plus years of his memory.
Even allowing for the fact that this story is from an American viewpoint, where things were slower to take off for DB than they were in the UK, the description of Bowie's stateside failure, before 'Mawhinney's plan' was implemented, is a little off the mark.
Here's his version of events over on YouTube, which you should watch now for the rest of this piece to make any real sense....
You're back...So, whether Mawhinney's suggestion to RCA to re-issue 700 copies of DB's first Mercury album ever had any influence on the company's executives or not is not known. But if it did, it certainly didn't happen in the 1973 time frame he suggests.
Having already signed to RCA more than a year earlier on September 9th, 1971, here's a bit from Billboard dated October 7, 1972...
The albums followed a month later, enhanced with contemporaneous Ziggy shots, posters and lyric bags.
The releases were also backed up in the US and UK with a pretty impressive press campaign during October/November 1972...some time before Mawhinney claims he made his phone call.
There was also a Space Oddity 4-track promotional only EP (bottom right in the montage below) which was reportedly given away free at shows during Bowie's first US tour in the closing months of 1972. It was also an in-store freebie with the Ziggy Stardust LP in a promotional carrier bag. Copies were made available for contests and magazine give-always in the same period. The sleeve featured the same image as the front of the newly re-issued TMWSTW and the lead off track was Space Oddity.
The album releases were promoted further in the US with the release of the Space Oddity/The Man Who Sold The World picture sleeve 45 in January 1973. The sleeve was a b/w version of the same Mick Rock shot as used on the re-issued Space Oddity album. That's the single sleeve and two different trade adverts for the 45 below.
In the event the US campaign paid off, giving Bowie not only his first US top twenty single when the Space Oddity 45 reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100, but also his first US top twenty LP when the Space Oddity album climbed to #16.
Those of you that read Portumguese can read the full Paul Mawhinney feature online here.