David Bowie blocks Morrissey from using photograph on record sleeve

by Sean Michels / Guardian

8th February 2013

David Bowie has reportedly ordered EMI not to feature snap of himself and Morrissey on cover of 8 April reissue of The Last of the Famous International Playboys

Morrissey has been forced to change the cover of a forthcoming single after David Bowie reportedly blocked the use of a photo featuring both men.

This isn’t a new record: on 8 April, Morrissey is reissuing his 1989 single The Last of the Famous International Playboys. And this isn’t a new photograph: in 1992, Linder Sterling snapped the unseen shot of Bowie and the Smiths’ former singer in New York. But it would constitute a new use of Sterling’s photo: Morrissey planned to swap out the single’s original artwork, an image of seven-year-old Moz climbing a tree.

“Bowie refusal,” runs the headline for the following post on True to You, a fansite Morrissey uses as a mouthpiece: “David Bowie has ordered EMI UK not to run the proposed artwork for … The Last of the Famous International Playboys single and CD … Although Bowie has no legal rights to the photograph, most of his back catalogue is presently licensed to EMI.”

It is not certain why Bowie may have leaned on EMI to block the photo’s publication. The two men were friendly at the time the photo was taken, uniting on stage for a performance of Cosmic Dancer. But the intervening years have clearly brought a schism. “[Bowie’s] a business, you know. He’s not really a person,” Morrissey told Jonathon Ross in 2004. “I could tell you stories … and you’d never listen to Let’s Dance again.”

Morrissey was even more cutting in a 2004 interview with GQ. “Bowie is not the person he was,” he said. “Now he gives people what he thinks will make them happy and they’re yawning their heads off. And by doing that, he is not relevant. He was only relevant by accident.”

With or without Bowie’s face, Morrissey will still reissue his 24-year-old single. He is also reissuing his second solo album, Kill Uncle, with bonus songs and a reordered tracklist. The 53-year-old is currently recovering from a bleeding ulcer and hopes to resume a US tour tomorrow night. “The reports of my death have been greatly understated,” Morrissey quipped last week.

Bowie’s first album in 10 years, The Next Day, is released on 11 March.

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1 Comment

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One response to “David Bowie blocks Morrissey from using photograph on record sleeve

  1. Eva-Maria Hamann

    It’s quite exciting, this article – and I am happy that I get those news via Mail. Thanks so much!

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