Bowie? The Beatles? No, it was me

Did David Bowie sing Penny Lane for a budget album, putting its price through the roof for collectors? Chris Groom goes in search of the facts – and in the murky world of the cheapo LP, uncovers the fabulous talent of Tony Steven, whose voice was enjoyed by millions, yet his name recognised by few…

Bowie? The Beatles? No, it was me

Everyone loves a juicy slice of music trivia, especially when gossip and rumour are involved, from the possible – “Rod Stewart played harmonica on My Boy Lollipop”, to the plainly laughable – “Bob Holness played the sax solo on Baker Street”. Neither of these urban myths turned out to be true, as we now know.

One particular rumour that has been circulating for quite some time is that the cover version of Penny Lane which turned up on the budget-priced Hits ’67 LP was sung by one David Bowie, and despite repeated denials from the artist involved (and his family), it has failed to go away.

The idea of Bowie singing The Beatles is certainly a tantalising thought and although the album was once a staple of charity shops and car boot sales, Bowie collectors have snapped up copies for heavy prices just in case the fantasy became reality. The rumour has been fuelled by a YouTube posting that has garnered around 100,000 viewings (http://youtu.be/iHb3GIQGoIM).

The truth is that the vocalist on this track is Tony Steven, formerly with the Johnny Howard Band and a highly respected session singer in his own right. In order to set the record straight once and for all, I met up with Tony to hear his side of the story and learn about the background to that particular recording …

by Chris Groom
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