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January 8, 2022

Portraits of 20-Year-Old David Bowie in Mime-Like Poses, 1967

“Mime is a marvelous medium,” David Bowie told Melody Maker in 1969. “It requires a lot of concentration on the part of the audience.”

In 1967, Gerald Fearnley photographed David Bowie doing a series of mime-like poses in front of the camera. Fearnley, whose younger brother Derek helped Bowie with his eponymous 1967 album, captured Bowie pre-fame, with many of the negatives later published for the first time in 2016, following Bowie’s death.
“My brother, Derek, known as ‘Dek’, was a musician. He always had his bass guitar with him and played gigs up until he passed away in 2008. But in the 1960s, we were all just starting out with our lives. And by 1966, I had a small home, a wife and three small kids. Dek would often use my place to stay before or after gigs. He would often bring by a fellow musician into our home. No one knew that one of the musicians would turn out to be David Bowie.

“David seemed very serious about what he was doing, he seemed trustworthy. He and my brother would often be in the kitchen writing. He used to play with the children, games of Monopoly or teaching them how to play the penny whistle. David was great with the kids, very pleasant, always polite.

“I had a studio in town, down near Oxford Street, and Dek and his musician friends would come up from time to time. I remember once I was walking either to or from the studio and I heard somebody shout my name from across the street. I looked up and it was David! He had this great big leather coat on, all the way to his ankles. That’s what I remember, he was just an ordinary bloke.

“I don’t remember why I took those photos, probably because I was the only one he knew with a studio and camera. I was as much of a professional photographer as he probably knew back then, but I only did still life photography... I never really followed his career, but my girls all did. They couldn’t believe that he was once just a young kid, sleeping on the sofa and teaching them how to play the theme tune from the TV series The Killing Stones on the penny whistle.”













(Photos by © Gerald Fearnley)




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