CULTURE

Unseen Photos of David Bowie Before He Became David Bowie

David Bowie
Gerald Fearnley

The photo shoot for David Bowie‘s self-titled 1967 debut album was not the over-the-top affair you might expect: At the time, Bowie, then better known as Davy (or Davie) Jones, would often crash in the London living room of his friend’s photographer brother, Gerald Fearnley, and didn’t have the resources yet for his signature reinventions. Fearnley, who at that point was married and had two kids, and had pivoted from taking photos for the Royal Air Force to staid still life advertisements, embraced the chaos—not that that made it any less unlikely that he was the one Bowie turned to when it came time to make his big debut. “I don’t remember why I took those photos, probably because I was the only one he knew with a studio and camera,” Fearnley recalls in Bowie Unseen: Portraits of an Artist as a Young Man, a new book out this month by ACC Editions. And while the album—and only a fraction of the photos—made little to no noise when they were released the same day as the Beatles’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, today they prove a fascinating capsule to a little-seen phase of the artist, long before Ziggy Stardust. Take a look back at the late icon as a 20-year-old enrolled in mime classes, here.

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David Bowie in a photo shoot for the cover of self-titled debut album with the photographer Gerald Fearnley, circa 1967.

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David Bowie, who was then enrolled in mime classes, in a photo shoot for the cover of self-titled debut album with the photographer Gerald Fearnley, circa 1967.

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David Bowie, who was then enrolled in mime classes, in a photo shoot for the cover of self-titled debut album with the photographer Gerald Fearnley, circa 1967.

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David Bowie in a photo shoot for the cover of self-titled debut album with the photographer Gerald Fearnley, circa 1967.

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David Bowie, who was then enrolled in mime classes, in a photo shoot for the cover of self-titled debut album with the photographer Gerald Fearnley, circa 1967.

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David Bowie in the photo used for the cover of self-titled debut album, show by the photographer Gerald Fearnley, circa 1967.

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David Bowie in a photo shoot for the cover of self-titled debut album with the photographer Gerald Fearnley, circa 1967.

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David Bowie, who was then enrolled in mime classes, in a photo shoot for the cover of self-titled debut album with the photographer Gerald Fearnley, circa 1967.

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David Bowie, who was then enrolled in mime classes, in a photo shoot for the cover of self-titled debut album with the photographer Gerald Fearnley, circa 1967.

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David Bowie in a photo shoot for the cover of self-titled debut album with the photographer Gerald Fearnley, circa 1967.

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David Bowie, who was then enrolled in mime classes, in a photo shoot for the cover of self-titled debut album with the photographer Gerald Fearnley, circa 1967.

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David Bowie in a photo shoot for the cover of self-titled debut album with the photographer Gerald Fearnley, circa 1967.