When David Bowie Went to Philly to Make "Young Americans"

How many bands and artists have traveled to out-of-the-way studios in sometimes remote locations in search of a particular sound?

The most famous example is Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Many great bands and songwriters -- from Aretha Franklin to the Rolling Stones -- made the pilgrimage to 'Bama to get that funky southern sound. (If you haven't seen the Muscle Shoals documentary or heard the album, you've got to check 'em out).

David Bowie made a similar pilgrimage, just a little further north. In August 1974, he headed to Philadelphia and Sigma Sound Studios to capture the Philly sound created by the Gamble and Huff songwriting team and the MFSB studio band.

What does MSFB stand for? Depending on who you're asking (and whether you want the clean or dirty version), it's either "Mother, Father, Sister, Brother" or "Motherf**king Sons of Bitches." Two band members -- Luther Vandross and David Sanborn -- went on to find acclaim as solo artists.

Here's a killer live video of Bowie and that band performing "Young Americans" on the Dick Cavett show in December '74: 

There's also a great article on Bowie Golden Years in which producer Tony Visconti recounts fun stories of making the record. It features lots of pictures from those recording sessions, including this one of Bowie at the mic with Luther Vandross (second from right) and other backing vocalists:

Leave A Comment

Now it's your turn. What are your favorite David Bowie songs? Favorite Bowie album? Leave us a comment and let us know!

And if you like this post, you might also like:
Hear David Bowie's Isolated Vocals On "Under Pressure"
The Best Vocal On This Rolling Stones Song Is Not From Mick Jagger


  • Rick steel
    Rick steel Florida
    Young Americans

    Young Americans

  • Debrah
    Debrah Oklahoma
    David Bowie was differently awesome and one of kind!

    David Bowie was differently awesome and one of kind!

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