David Bowie Producer Thought ‘Hunky Dory’ Would Flop

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Ken Scott, who produced David Bowie’s 1971 album, Hunky Dory, admitted that he initially expected the record to flop.

Though he’d previously worked as a studio engineer with Bowie, the Beatles and Elton John, among others, Scott earned his first production gig with Hunky Dory. In a new interview with Classic Album Sundays (via Mojo), he said he’d taken courage from thinking the record would fail just like its predecessor, The Man Who Sold the World.

“Did I know that Bowie would be a superstar? Never,” he said. “I thought, ‘Finally, I can make mistakes because no one is going to hear this album.’” His thinking quickly changed after a meeting with Bowie. “He showed me the demos and I realized there is so much more to him, that this would be huge, and I was petrified again.”

Scott was impressed by his lead artist’s approach to work. “He was the best vocalist in-studio I’ve ever worked with,” he said. “Of the four albums I co-produced with him, 95 percent of the vocals are the first take; he’d do it once, and that’s what you hear today.”

Even at that stage of his career, Bowie was focused on the idea of an album being an “immersive listen,” Scott said, adding that he believed Hunky Dory was a prime example. “The Beatles turned the making of an album into an art form. It wasn’t just a bunch of single songs. They put them together as a complete package, and that’s what we continued. And that’s one of the things with Hunky Dory. It’s meant as a complete package, not just a bunch of songs.”

 

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