Why Andy Warhol Hated David Bowie’s Song About Him
Surprisingly, David Bowie and Andy Warhol have crossed paths only once in their lives. Yet after hearing how disastrous things turned out when they actually met, it’s no surprise the two pioneers failed to keep in touch.
Bowie’s obsession with Warhol had started at a young age. His fascination with all things The Factory means he was one of the first to adopt Lou Reed’s band, The Velvet Underground. In fact, it has been claimed that it was Bowie in the late 1960s who gave the band their first UK cover singing “Waiting For The Man” in front of a somewhat puzzled audience.
Bowie’s masterpiece in 1971 Hunky-dory even features an ode to the artist, aptly titled “Andy Warhol”. The track isn’t exactly a love letter to Warhol, but examines the artist through a darkened lens, as Bowie sings: “Andy Warhol watches a scream, hang it on my wall / Andy Warhol Silver Screen, I can’t tell them apart at all. “
Prior to the album’s release, Bowie met his golden ticket to Warhol when he struck up a friendship with actor Tony Zanetta in London. He was in the capital to play Andy Warhol in the stage production of his play Pork, which only increased Bowie’s deep infatuation with the actor.
Their friendship blossomed during this time and the actor agreed to show Bowie New York when he arrived in 1971. However, the Ziggy Stardust fever had not swept across the country in the United States as it did. had made it across the Atlantic, and Bowie’s star power was lost. on Warhol, who thought he was just another obsessive fan who made his way into The Factory.
Although Bowie was in New York to sign on the dotted line with RCA, it meant nothing to Warhol. “We all walked to The Factory,” Zanetta reminded Bedford & Bowery of when he and Bowie first met the mystic Warhol. “The meeting was a bit tense because Warhol wasn’t a great speaker, you had to talk and entertain Andy, and David wasn’t really a great speaker either. No one was really taking this conversation and running with it.
Bowie couldn’t resist the opportunity that had presented itself before him. It would have been a deep regret if he hadn’t delivered a rendition of Andy Warhol to the very man talking about the track, and it’s safe to say he wasn’t the most satisfied. “I took the song to The Factory when I first came to America and played it,” Bowie later recalls to Performing Songwriter. “And he hated it. I hated him. He said “Oh, uh-huh, okay …” then he walked away, “he added.
This version of events is supported by Zanetta, who said, “Warhol didn’t say anything but absolutely hated it,” he recalls. “Which didn’t help the meeting. Remember, David Bowie was not a big star. He was just a street guy as far as Andy Warhol was concerned.
Zanetta continued, “They found common ground in David’s shoes. David wore Mary Janes yellow and Andy had been a shoe illustrator, which David knew, so they started talking about shoes. Otherwise, it was not the most beautiful meeting [laughs]. “
If that encounter had taken place a few years later, when America had firmly taken Bowie to their hearts as they had to his homeland, Warhol might have viewed the trail as a genius because of his stature. To be fair with his reaction to “Andy Warhol,” this is far from Bowie’s best work and doesn’t paint the portrayal of someone who would soon have the world at their feet.