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January 8, 2020

David Bowie Photographed by Terry O'Neill for ‘Diamond Dogs’ Album Cover, 1974

David Bowie appears as half-man, half-dog character Halloween Jack, leader of the Diamond Dogs gang. Photographer Terry O’Neill took the pictures, which were then given to Belgian artist Guy Peellaert to render as a painting. RCA execs worried about the dog genitals on show, and censored the image. “I thought it was very sad,” Peellaert said afterward.

Diamond Dogs cover outtakes contact sheet by Terry O'Neill. The cover art for this album was a painting based on photographs taken during this session. The final image was a man-dog hybrid painted by Belgian artist Guy Peellaert. It was immediately controversial because the animal was anatomically complete, so shortly after its release, the record company had the painting airbrushed to conceal the genetalia. Original versions of the album are very rare and collectible.

Contact sheet of David Bowie posing with a large barking dog while working on the artwork for his 1974 album Diamond Dogs in London.

It was 1974. Terry O’Neill was asked to shoot photos for the promotion of Bowie’s new album Diamond Dogs. As Terry remembered Bowie walked into the studio with this giant, beautiful dog. He sat in a chair, all stretched out, with the dog standing next to him.

But every time they took a photo, the dog would bark at the strobe light. The dog got so excited by the light, he started to leap at it. The images, with David just sitting there, completely unaffected by this large, imposing, soaring dog, has become one of the most iconic shots in rock-and-roll.
“It was a promotional shoot for Bowie’s Diamond Dogs album,” said Terry. “The problem was that when a strobe went off in the studio, the absolutely barking mad dog decided to jump up and try and kill it. The entire studio staff instinctively recoiled but David didn’t even blink.”
Terry O’Neill came to prominence in the 1960s with the new generation of photographers including David Bailey and Brian Duffy who rejected the static formality of the posed photographs of the 1950s and went instead for spontaneity and unusual settings. Terry O’Neill worked with David Bowie a number of times creating some of the most striking images of him.

David’s original sketches for the album cover.

Guy Peellaert’s preparatory composition for David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs (1974).

The cover art for Diamond Dogs by Guy Peellaert.

Peellaert’s original artwork planned as the inner gatefold image.

Guy Peellaert and David Bowie unveil the original Diamond Dogs artwork, London, May 1974.

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