PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The world has lost a music icon. Singer, songwriter David Bowie died Sunday at age 69 after an 18 month battle with cancer.

Bowie has Philadelphia ties that stretch back more than 40 years.

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Bowie’s first live album “David Live” was recorded at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby as part of his Diamond Dogs tour.

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Recordings from performances at the Tower from July 8 through July 12 were compiled and released by RCA records at the end of October 1974.

While taking a break from that tour, Bowie stayed in Philadelphia to record his critically acclaimed “Young Americans” album at the Sigma Sound Studios on North 12th Street.

Joe Tarsia, co-founder of the studio and former owner, says Bowie found something unique about the sound of Philadelphia soul. He remembers the Bowie sessions.

“Bowie was polite in the studio, very protective,” Tarsia says. “(He) came with a body-guard and an entourage which was sort of strange for our guys, for Philadelphia.”

Work began August 11, 1974 with producer Tony Visconti trying to achieve a live sound from the studio with the full band playing together, including Bowie’s vocals, as a single continuous take for each song.

Bowie’s local fans, whom he labeled the “Sigma Kids” because they gathered outside the studio while he was inside recording, were invited to come inside on the last day of recording and were given a preview of some of the rough cuts of the songs.

“He invited them all into the studio and they sat on the floor and he played the album for them,” Tarsia says, “you know, just the finished master tapes but not a record yet.”

The album was finished in November of that year.

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The title track, “Young Americans,” was released Feb. 21, 1975. The full album was released a couple of weeks later.

The other big single from the album, “Fame,” which he co-wrote with John Lennon and guitarist Carlos Alomar, climbed to No. 1 on the U.S. charts shortly after its release in July 1975.

Bowie also has a connection with a famous sports and music venue that once stood in South Philadelphia. His music video “Modern Love” was recorded at the Spectrum on July 20, 1983.



“Philadelphia proudly was his biggest city in North America. We’d sell out multiple shows whatever venue we were playing. We’d play stadiums,” said concert producer Larry Magid.

Magid worked with Bowie for decades, producing multiple shows including some at the Electric Factory.

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“It’s a tremendous lost. David Bowie was one of the most creative and innovative performers,” said Magid.

Magid says that creativeness, that willingness to reinvent himself widely respected by Philadelphia fans.

“This was a great receptive area for him. He loved the Philadelphia sound and he loved the Philadelphia audiences,” said Magid.


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CBS 3’s Greg Argos contributed to this report.