Working together

Hear Geoff MacCormack recollect being told by David Bowie that he was joining David’s band on tour.

David and Geoff on the set of the film The Man Who Fell to Earth, 1975. Photograph by Lolo Provoost, © Geoff MacCormack.


Geoff: When I got the phone call to join David’s band I must have been about 25, 26, something like that. And his career just exploded all at once. He asked me to join his band, which was just brilliant as I think I was selling advertising space at the time and I got a call at that office and the receptionist said there’s a David Bowie for you, in very impressed tones. I think they were just about to promote me at that time, into teaching people how to sell, whatever. So it was a toss up between joining David Bowie’s band or selling more advertising space so I chose the band, obviously. In fact, he didn’t ask me, he told me I was joining the band. Basically it was for a tour of America and Japan and Britain, so we did all that, which I thought was very nice.

Interviewer: What was it like seeing your good pal from school, as you say his career just exploded, he released an album and it had done really well and everyone knew who he was. What was it like seeing that happen?

Geoff: It was surreal in a way, but because David was a friend from childhood, it didn’t seem…and knowing him and knowing his background and all the things he tried and what he’d done…it didn’t seem implausible, but it just seemed surreal. And it seemed like going to a party in fancy dress and doing a turn at the party and, he did most of the terms of course, but it was a bit like that, going to a party for 3 years and then moving maybe from one venue to another but the party just rolling on.

Interviewer: I wonder if your feet touched the ground during that time?

Geoff: They haven’t yet, thank goodness. This middle one is us larking around on the set ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ set in New Mexico. I don’t know who I gave my camera to take the picture, it could have been my girlfriend at the time, who was French and I’ve got a picture of her and David, and David took one, which is in another room, of her and I.

Interviewer: You just seem really relaxed and at ease with each other in that photo. 

Geoff: Yeah, that’s how it was. It’s the luxury of having a long long friendship, and not having to… it’s like family isn’t it, you’re just immediately at ease. I still have a friend who I met before David, who was David’s friend as well. The three of us grew up together. George Underwood, the artist George Underwood, and George and I are still really close, so it’s bizarre to have not only one but have two friends I’ve known since I was a child.

Interviewer: It’s quite unusual in a way. It’s enviable, especially doing all these crazy adventures together, having that base of understanding each other, and history. 

Geoff: Well, David took George a year before, just as a guest. He took George and his wife, Birgit, to a tour in 73, which was the first proper tour he did in America, he just did a few cities, and he took George and Birgit with him. He liked having his friends around him.