The Manish Boys

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The Manish Boys were the second group that David Bowie, then going by his real name David Jones, recorded with (the first was Davie Jones & the King Bees). The Manish Boys formed, without Bowie, in…
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The Manish Boys were the second group that David Bowie, then going by his real name David Jones, recorded with (the first was Davie Jones & the King Bees). The Manish Boys formed, without Bowie, in Maidstone, and moved to London in 1964, where Leslie Conn became their agent. Conn was also Bowie's first manager, and when Bowie left the King Bees in mid-1964, he hooked the singer up with the Manish Boys. Like the King Bees and dozens (probably hundreds) of London bands at the time, the Manish Boys played R&B; like the Rolling Stones, they had named themselves after a Muddy Waters song.

The Manish Boys recorded just one single, "I Pity the Fool"/"Take My Tip," released in March 1965. Produced by Shel Talmy (also handling the Kinks and the Who at that time), it marked a progression from the guitar-oriented Rolling Stones-ish R&B of the Davie Jones & the King Bees' 1964 single to soul-jazz in the mold of Georgie Fame. "I Pity the Fool" was a cover of the Bobby Bland classic; "Take My Tip," in which the jazz elements came more to the fore, was the first Bowie composition ever recorded. The sides, on which Jimmy Page played guitar as session man, were enjoyable but not striking, and the Manish Boys split shortly afterward. In their short lifetime they had managed to get on a package tour with Gerry & the Pacemakers, the Kinks, and Marianne Faithfull, but when they got onto BBC TV, it was because of controversy over their (for the time) very long hair, not their music.

Bowie then joined the Lower Third, and by 1966 was working on a solo career. "I Pity the Fool" and "Take My Tip" have subsequently been reissued, and are most readily available on Early On (1964-1966), the Rhino compilation of early Bowie material. The Manish Boys also recorded covers of Barbara Lewis' "Hello Stranger" and Mickey & Sylvia's "Love Is Strange" at Decca with Mike Smith producing, but those songs have not been released.