I Never Dreamed

The Konrads David Bowie David Jones Lyrics (written by Alan Dodds; remembered by Roger Ferris in August 2013)

I never dreamed

That I’d fall in love with you

I never dreamed

That your eyes could be so blue

 

Till I looked your way baby

And saw your tender smile

I wanted you so badly

My heart was captured for a while

 

I never dreamed

Your caress could hurt so much

I never dreamed

That I would shake to your tender touch

 

Till you held my hand

Run your fingers through my hair

The other guys all laughed at me

But I didn’t really care

 

I never dreamed

I never dreamed

I never dreamed

‚I Never Dreamed’ marks the first-ever studio recording of 16-year old David Robert Jones on 29 August 1963 at Decca Studios in Broadhurst Gardens, West Hampstead, London. The recording which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 is from a long, long time ago when David had not yet taken on the artificial surname ‚Bowie’ (which happened about three years later) and when he was a more or less regular teenager with some ambitions to make it in the music business.

At the time of the recording David Jones was a member of the Kon-rads, a band made up by David’s childhood friend George Underwood some years before. Upon Underwood’s involvement with the Kon-rads since 1961 David saw his chance to make a first huge leap in his musical career and asked his friend if he could place him in the band. In fact, he must have been very relentless as Underwood told to biographer Kevin Cann many years later: „David was dying to get into the band. He regularly asked if I could get him in.“

Konrads David Bowie 1

David Jones joined the Kon-rads in June 1962 as the saxophonist, but also to provide some backing vocals. The band consisted of George Underwood (vocals), David Jones (tenor saxophone, vocals), Neville Wills (guitar), Alan Dodds (guitar), Dave Crook (drums), Dave Hadfield (drums), Rocky Shahan (bass), Roger Ferris (vocals), Christine and Stella Patton (backing vocals). Ever since he joined the band David played a couple of gigs with them in small venues in London for a little over a year featuring some hits from the Beatles, Shadows and Chris Montez.

Throughout his tours with the Kon-rads David learned how to experiment with his appearance on stage and constantly introduced new ideas to his bandmates e.g. new outfits and gimmicks to increase the popularity of the band. For some performances he took on the stage name ‘David Jay’. However, David’s membership in the band was not meant to last too long – a pattern that was soon to be repeated over and over throughout his musical advancements in the 1960s. At the time of the recording David was no longer a happy member in his band as the Kon-rads sticked to performing a (in David’s view) rather limited musical range. In the months after leaving the Kon-rads he would get more involved with R&B.

The studio recording of ‘I Never Dreamed’ took place when David had already graduated from Bromley Tech. During the summer of 1963 an assistant to Eric Easton, a manager of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, had seen the Kon-rads in one of their performances in Orpington and invited the Kon-rads to an audition at Decca Studios. According to Bromley & Kentish Times – which euphorically announced the recording only a couple of days before the actual audition – the Kon-rads were to audition with a total of four songs. However, they auditioned solely with their self-penned composition ‚I Never Dreamed’.

During the audition the Kon-rads performed poorly: Hadfield was described as a “nervous wreck” and the song was played in such a way that it was simply not enjoyable. According to drummer David Hadfield nobody was really interested. “We thought this is it, it’s tremendous. But it never materialized.” When Decca and other talent scouts finally confirmed that they weren’t interested in promoting the Kon-rads at all, David Jones had already told his bandmates that he was planning on leaving the Kon-rads.

What kind of song was ‘I Never Dreamed’? There is not much we know about the song today as the master tapes of ‚I Never Dreamed’ have been wiped or have been re-recorded. It has taken nearly fifty years for the lyrics to be released to the public domain (lead singer Roger Ferris has remembered the lyrics at the song’s 50th anniversary). Apart from the lyrics, the only thing we know about ‚I Never Dreamed’ is what Ferris told Mojo magazine in 2001: it was an “upbeat love song of the era”. Not necessarily a detailed description of the song, but we just have to live with that for the moment. It is certain however that David Jones contributed backing vocals for this song.

Bowie Konrads 2

A few scratched acetate* recordings of ‘I Never Dreamed’ are rumoured to be in circulation as they were handed over to some members of the band after the audition in 1963. Unfortunately, it has since been confirmed that Ferris and Dodds have lost their acetates over the last fifty years. But it is not out of the question that some other band member might have retained theirs. For example, in 2002 Hadfield offered rehearsal tapes of the song (which must have taken place before the Decca audition?) at Christie’s, but failed to find a buyer. So the hunt continues.

Perhaps this lost acetate recording will be excavated and released one day. With Bowie being back in the global spotlight we can expect that some hidden treasure of the Bowie song catalog will be officially released in the future. In that case, Bowie biographies will have to be slightly modified because, at this time, Bowie’s first-known studio recording that has actually seen the light of day is the single ‘Liza Jane’ from the year 1964, about ten months after ‚I Never Dreamed’.

The Kon-rads after Bowie

Some Bowiephiles became quite ecstatic a few years ago when a Konrads (the hyphen had already been dropped!) single named ‘I Didn’t Know How Much’ (B-side: ‚I Thought Of You Last Night’) turned up on an auction website. This led many collectors to the assumption that this song might be somehow linked to the Decca audition on 29th August 1963, and would hence feature young David Bowie on them. And of course this wasn’t the case here: The single and some other Konrads recordings that have resurfaced ever since were on the Decca Canada label and appeared on a bootleg with the misleading title ‚Bromley Scout Hut rehearsals’. All these recordings were made by the Konrads for CBS in 1965 – long after David Jones had left the band.

* Acetates are fragile lacquer records intented for temporary use only

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Filed under 1963-65: Early Songs

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