June 5 1964. A young and somewhat ambitious David Jones released his first pop single, “Liza Jane” on the Vocalion Pop label, a subsidiary of Decca records in England. The single was recorded, along with the accompanying B-Side, “Louie, Louie Go Home” at Decca’s West Hampstead studio in just over seven hours.
At this time, David was part of a group known as Davie Jones & The King Bees, a heavily R&B influenced group who played their first gig at a wedding reception, where they were kicked off after just 10 minutes of performing for being too loud. The other four members of the group included George Underwood (a life long friend) on rhythm guitar and harmonica, Roger Bluck on lead guitar, Francis Howard on bass and Bob Allen on drums.
The following day saw the single aired on Juke Box Jury in the UK, where it was subsequently deemed a future hit by just one of the five judges. On June 19 the group appeared on Ready, Steady, Go! to perform the single in front of the ITV camera’s. Some weeks later, on July 27, The King Bees played “Liza Jane” again but, despite these appearances and a push through local media, the single failed to make a dent in the charts.
The B-Side, “Louie, Louie Go Home” was a cover of the Paul Revere and The Raiders single and was, at one time pencilled in to be the debut single instead of “Liza Jane”. One wonders how this may have faired as the debut single? It should be noted too that the Paul Revere version was, in fact, an altered cover version of Richard Berry’s well known “Louie, Louie”.
Within the month David Jones was fronting a new group. The Manish Boys and Liza Jane, along with The King Bees were resigned to the dust bin. In the years to come, David Jones would change his name to Bowie and, following a good deal of perseverance, engrave his new identity in the annals of rock history with a career that is still holding strong to this day.
An original pressing of the single will today set you back around £900 on the collectors market. Interestingly, whilst working abroad some years later, Leslie Conn, the manager of The King Bees for their brief spell advised his mother back in England to throw out a few hundred copies of Liza Jane that were left in the garage.
The song itself was re-recorded in the year 2000 by Bowie for his ill fated “Toy” project, of which the updated version leaked out in 2011.
I highly doubt that even David Jones would have imagined way back on June 5 1964, upon the release of “Liza Jane”, that he would one day go on to change the course of not just musical history, but have such a tremendous impact on fashion and culture for generations to come.
Should you have a spare few moments at some point today, settle down into your comfy chair, whack on “Liza Jane” and play it over a few times at maximum volume!