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Tony Visconti: Memory of a Three-Bar Heater

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Tonight, Tony Visconti and Woody Woodmansey’s group Holy Holy and Glenn Gregory perform Bowie’s classic The Man Who Sold The World album and a new set of other Bowie songs from 1969-73 at the 02 ABC in Glasgow.

Rock critic for The Scotsman and founding member of Glasgow Music City Tours, Fiona Shepherd, caught up with Tony Visconti recently and asked him about his memories of playing with Bowie in Glasgow.

We appreciate the touring life is hard for anyone but spare a thought for Tony Visconti. Yes, we do mean internationally renowned record producer and Bowie best bud Tony Visconti.

Visconti has always been happiest in the studio, producing a string of classic David Bowie albums from Space Oddity right through to The Next Day as well as working over the years with the likes of Marc Bolan, Iggy Pop, Sparks, Thin Lizzy….and Elaine Paige.

But Visconti started his career as a jobbing bassist and he has returned to his roots to tour with Spiders from Mars drummer Woody Woodmansey. With Heaven 17 frontman Glenn Gregory in tow, the pair are performing Bowie’s glam rocking 1971 album The Man Who Sold the World in its entirety at ABC in Glasgow tonight.

We’ll be telling tales of some previous Bowie appearances in Glasgow on our Glasgow Music City Tours but here’s one rather pitiful touring memory direct from Mr Visconti himself:

“We were promoting the Space Oddity album. Mick Ronson was already in the group, I was in the group but I think John Cambridge was the drummer, not Woody Woodmansey yet.

“We did a few gigs in the north and it was something like February, it was really cold. We found a boarding house in Glasgow and there were three beds for seven of us so we doubled up and someone slept on the floor. It had a three bar electric fire but this one you had to feed with shillings.

It must have been about minus five in the room and we would throw the shillings in and they would last for ten minutes but it only emanated heat for about two feet so we slept in our stage clothes, overcoats, hats, scarves, socks and boots, all of us. We couldn’t take any clothes off!”

Gives a whole new meaning to being stage ready…