The Hype began life with Tony Visconti on bass, guitarist Tim Renwick and drummer John Cambridge. On February 3, 1970 the band played a gig at The Marquee Club in London, supported by Junior’s Eyes – the band John was also drumming with.
Knowing that David and Tony were looking to ‘beef up’ the band’s guitar sound John suggested David meet his mate Mick Ronson from Hull. John convinced Ronno to make the trip down to London and was introduced to David at that Marquee Club gig. That night Junior’s Eyes disbanded and John became the official drummer for David’s new band.
Two days later Ronno made his debut with David when he played guitar for a live studio recording for the BBC’s The Sunday Show, introduced by DJ John Peel. The session was recorded on February 5 and broadcast on February 8, billed as David Bowie and the Tony Visconti Trio. Five tracks from that now historic session were released on the triple CD set ‘Bowie at The Beeb’ in 2000 – Amsterdam, God Knows I’m Good, Unwashed and Slightly Dazed, The Width of a Circle, Cygnet Committee and Memory of a Free Festival.
After the session Mick returned to Hull as he wasn’t convinced that living and working in London was a viable option at that time. So on the weekend of February 14 & 15, David, Angie, Tony and his girlfriend Liz Hartley took a quick trip to Hull to meet Mick and persuade him to make a permanent move down south and join the band.
On that visit Ronno introduced them all to Stuart George who had been working with Ronno’s band The Rats. Stuart also made the move to London and would later become Bowie’s bodyguard for the next ten years. On February 16 Mick moved into Haddon Hall, sleeping upstairs on the gallery overlooking the entrance hall staircase.
A week later on February 22 David and his band were booked to open for American group Country Joe and The Fish at The Camden Roundhouse in North London. David had been discussing with his manager at the time Ken Pitt, the need to build some hype around this new band line up, Ken suggested that choosing that term for the band’s name was a good first step, so ‘The Hype’ prepared for the Roundhouse gig.
Tony Visconti’s photograph of David Bowie, Mick Ronson and John Cambridge rehearsing at Haddon Hall.
As you’ll hear in this episode of the MainMan podcast preparations for the concert included Angie and Liz making colourful costumes for the 4 guys to wear – to set them apart from the long haired jeans and t-shirt wearing bands that proliferated at the time.
And the rest is history….
Tony explains how he had been producing Tyrannosaurus Rex with Marc Bolan while living and working with David, so he was surprised to learn after the concert that Marc Bolan had been at the Roundhouse and seen The Hype’s outfits – and took note!
After the concert when the band returned to their dressing room they found that someone had stolen their street clothes, including their jackets, so they had to drive back to Haddon Hall in David’s hand cranked Riley with no heating, wearing their stage costumes.
The Hype played the Roundhouse again on March 11 as part of the Atomic Sunrise Festival and David further enhanced his glamorous new look with a silver jacket.
At the end of March The Hype played a gig at the Star Hotel in Croydon, which turned out to be John Cambridge’s last appearance with the band.
At Ronno’s suggestion he was replaced by another of Mick’s fiends from Hull Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey who moved in to Haddon Hall and took John’s place on the landing.
At this point in time the band were really short of funds so in order to help them purchase much needed gear, including a new stage PA, Angie decided to try and get the band a recording contract, so she met with Ralph Mason, an executive at Philips and persuaded him to sign The Hype to a recording deal, which they agreed – the £4,000 advance allowing them to buy the much needed PA.
David was keen to keep his solo work and the band as separate entities, so The Hype contract was issued for Tony, Mick and Woody.
The Hype recorded three songs Clorrisa, Invisible Long Hair and The Fourth Hour of My Sleep.
On March 20 David and Angie got married and then on April 24 David fired his manager Ken Pitt and began working with Tony Defries. One of the first things that Tony convinced David to do was drop the name The Hype, so that chapter closed – but those early gigs would become very influential…