As the title of his 2007 autobiography Bowie, Bolan And The Brooklyn Boy self-effacingly acknowledges, producer and bassist Tony Visconti is chiefly associated in the public imagination with two artists: David Bowie in his pre-glam phase, his Berlin period and beyond (Visconti, we now know, was the real identity of the protagonist spotted “standing by the Wall” with his lover in a romantic tryst in ‘“Heroes”’), and Marc Bolan at the strutting, shimmering height of T. Rex’s powers.
Visconti was the unseen hand on the faders behind many of the greatest acts of the Seventies, from Sparks to Thin Lizzy, from Badfinger to Iggy Pop, and the 71-year-old’s services are continually in demand to this day, having worked in recent years with Morrissey, the Manics and Kaiser Chiefs, as well as Bowie himself on his 2013 comeback, The Next Day.
Tony Visconti’s association with Bowie began with the singer’s second studio album, David Bowie (aka Space Oddity), but the next record, The Man Who Sold The World, was a great leap forward from flimsy psychedelic folk to hard rock and progressive rock. Musicians from Visconti’s own band Hype, including future Spiders From Mars guitarist Mick Ronson, were co-opted to play on the sessions with the addition of drummer Woody Woodmansey (who would also become a Spider), but the album received a staggered and delayed release across 1970 and 1971, and Bowie never toured it as such. The record never made the impact it deserved at the time, abandoned to fizzle out somewhat as Bowie moved onwards to make Hunky Dory, leaving TMWSTW as something of a lost and forgotten work.
Four decades later, Visconti has sought to rectify that situation by reuniting with Woodmansey to form another band, Tony Visconti And Woody Woodmansey’s Holy Holy, whose line-up also features Heaven 17’s Glenn Gregory, Spandau Ballet’s Steve Norman, Tony’s daughter (with Mary Hopkin) Morgan Visconti, Mick Ronson’s daughter Lisa and niece Hannah, and a variety of guests such as Marc Almond and Spandau’s Gary Kemp.
Holy Holy have been performing that record (and other Bowie classics) in a continuing run of live shows which has now been captured on a live album, The Man Who Sold The World – Live In London, recorded at Shepherds Bush Empire last September.
I start by asking Tony about his motive for doing this…