Davy Jones & The Lower Third

The Lower Third were the third of the groups with whom David Bowie recorded. Formed in 1963 in Margate, they moved to London in early 1965, and shortly afterward, Bowie (then still going by his real name, David Jones) won an audition to be the band's singer. In the '60s, Bowie unabashedly sponged off the day's trends to dictate the evolution of his own music. Although the two previous groups he had recorded a single apiece with, Davie Jones & the King Bees and the Manish Boys, had been into R&B, the Lower Third would get into mod rock, in the style of the Who and the Kinks. That would be made easier by the presence of producer Shel Talmy, who produced the Who and the Kinks, behind the board on the band's first single. (Talmy had already produced Bowie on the Manish Boys' sole 45.)

Although the Lower Third played on the mid-1965 single "You've Got a Habit of Leaving"/"Baby Loves That Way," it was actually billed to Davy Jones, with no mention of the Lower Third. "You've Got a Habit of Leaving," released in August 1965, was so reminiscent of the Who, and its guitar solo so close to the auto-destructive style of Pete Townshend, that one suspects Bowie wrote this right after hearing the Who's then-current single, "Anyway Anyhow Anywhere." The B-side, "Baby Loves That Way," was more ordinary, and did have a trace of the feyness that would become a more audible part of the Bowie persona as the years rolled by. The single was derivative, and Pete Townshend even told Bowie at a show where the Lower Third supported the Who that a song the Lower Third were rehearsing sounded like one of Townshend's. But the single at least gave Bowie a chance to get his own songs recorded.

The Lower Third made one more single with Bowie, "Can't Help Thinking About Me"/"And I Say to Myself," for which the billing now read David Bowie with the Lower Third. This was fair pop-mod-rock that found Bowie starting to get a wee bit personal in his songwriting. Shortly after the record came out, though, the Lower Third broke up in a dispute over pay with their manager. Feeling that Bowie wasn't supporting their side of the argument, the other members of the band -guitarist Denis Taylor, bassist Graham Rivens, and drummer Phil Lancaster — left Bowie on his own, which was probably the way the aspiring star preferred it anyway.

The four tracks that Bowie released with the Lower Third have been reissued several times. Early On (1964-1966), a compilation of early Bowie material, includes them and two previously unreleased Talmy-produced Bowie tracks from 1965, the Bowie originals "I'll Follow You" and "Glad I've Got Nobody," that also had the Lower Third as his support group.

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