“It’s been called ‘The Mona Lisa of Pop.’ Who could have imagined that the moment he clicked the shutter on the Hasselblad in early 1973 that one of those images would become known as a cultural icon…

The Aladdin Sane story as Duffy always told me is as follows. During the time around the Trident studio meeting Duffy asked David what the album was going to be called. David replied ‘a lad insane’. In Duffy’s head he interpreted this as ‘Aladdin Sane’, I guess the genie vision and thoughts of rubbing an Aladdin’s lamp must have appeared to him, in fact if you look at the typography on the album cover there is a flame over the letter ‘i’ as if coming from an Aladdin’s lamp.

I think it’s been well documented that David was intrigued with Elvis and Elvis in turn mad for gospel music, consequently forming a secret society, The Templar’s of The Christian Brotherhood, which fought racism and anti-Semitism. Elvis condensed and abbreviated the name to the acronym TCB–‘Taking Care of Business’ (in a lightning flash) and used it as his personal motto. He used the flash symbol with the letters TCB and applied it to many of his personal effects…

David always had this flash element idea from the beginning. I think what made David and Duffy work so well together was the fact that David knew he could throw something abstract like that at Duffy and Duffy would interpret it and come up with something brilliant. That was their chemistry, that’s why he used Duffy and that’s why they jelled. So the flash element was key from the beginning of the project and Duffy knew that this element had to be incorporated and woven into the concept of the album. Just ‘how?’ was the question.

On the day of the shoot, Duffy pulled an old rice cooker that his Mother had given him out of the kitchen, it was made by National Panasonic and sported a small logo with a red and blue flash…Duffy showed this to David and said ‘Is this the kind of thing we are talking about?’ David, from what I understand, agreed that it was the perfect colouration, and this then helped to kick the session off.

Duffy directed Pierre

[La Roche] to put a flash on David’s face as discussed. But after seeing that he had only painted a small flash tattoo on David’s check, he directed him to remove it. He then picked up a red lipstick from Pierre’s make-up box and proceeded to roughly outline a much bolder flash on David’s face and said, ‘Like this.’

The real stroke of genius for me was to add the airbrushed water symbol on David’s collarbone. The flash had come from David and this was really Duffy putting his stamp on the image. Without that water symbol the image in indeed incredible but that element takes the visuals to another level and crowns it. The water symbol adds this weird element of surrealism and water, representing emotion, while its phallic shape also connotes sexuality.”

Above excerpt from the book “Duffy Bowie” by Chris Duffy

Mr Musichead Gallery is one of a select few galleries worldwide that represents the Brian Duffy Archive and offers limited edition ‘David Bowie, Aladdin Sane’ prints. Before Brian Duffy passed away in 2010 he signed a limited number of his prints. For the art collector and Bowie fans alike, these prints from the Aladdin Sane session allow you to own a piece of pop art & music history. Since, Duffy’s passing the Duffy Archive has done an incredible job sharing the creative work and genius of Duffy with the world. The book Duffy Bowie by Chris Duffy tells the stories from the five photo sessions that Duffy collaborated with Bowie. In addition, the touring exhibition ‘David Bowie Is’ presents the first retrospective of the chameleon artistry and career of David Bowie. Many of the photographs from the Duffy Archive are featured.

To purchase prints or the book Duffy Bowie, please email ellice@mrmusichead.com

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