Diamond Dogs Tour

The Diamond Dogs Tour was a concert tour by English singer-songwriter David Bowie in North America in 1974 to promote the studio album Diamond Dogs (1974). The first leg of the tour utilized a rock opera-style stage show format with multiple sets, costume changes and choreography. The remainder of the tour was alternatively known as The Soul Tour, which included some songs from the forthcoming album Young Americans (1975) and featured a revamped, stripped-down presentation and different backing band.

Diamond Dogs Tour
Tour by David Bowie
Bowie performing at the Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina on 5 July 1974
Associated albumDiamond Dogs
Start date14 June 1974
End date2 December 1974
No. of shows78 (80 scheduled)
David Bowie concert chronology

Tour preparation and detailsEdit

Bowie during the Diamond Dogs Tour on 5 July 1974 at the Charlotte Coliseum

Two months of rehearsals were required to get the tour ready, in part due to the elaborate set & props required for the show (reported to cost $275,000 per set,[1] or about $1,510,000 today).[2] Originally the tour was planned to appear in a city for five nights before moving on to the next city, but that plan was abandoned early on. The tour started in June 1974 in Montreal, Quebec as the "Diamond Dogs Tour" (although producer Tony DeFries demanded the tour be referred to as "The Year of the Diamond Dogs" when speaking with the press). Bowie recorded radio and television commercials for the tour, which played in advance of the tour's arrival in each city.[3] The tour took the month of August 1974 off, during which time Bowie began recording his follow-up studio album, Young Americans. On 10 October 1974, after the tour had resumed, Bowie abandoned the extravagant theatrical set and re-branded the tour "The Soul Tour", which would continue through the end of the North American leg in December.[1]

In 1987, Bowie recalled how difficult the tour was early on before changing it into the 'Soul Tour', saying "I was in a bad state of mind to have attempted that. It was pretty exciting, but I was so blocked [laughs], so stoned during the entire thing that I'm amazed I lasted with it even that one trip across America before I ditched it."[4]

Set designEdit

The set for the theatrical Diamond Dogs tour was designed by Mark Ravitz, who would go on to design sets for artists such as KISS, Whitney Houston and the Backstreet Boys, as well as for Bowie's 1987 Glass Spider Tour.[5] The set was built to resemble a city (called "Hunger City"),[3] weighed 6 tons and incorporated over 20,000 moving parts including a variety of props (such as streetlamps, chairs and catwalks). The props themselves weren't ready for use until a mere 6 days before the show opened, which led to a variety of technical problems during the tour: a movable catwalk collapsed once during the tour with Bowie on it.[3] The set was at least partially based on work by German artist George Grosz.[6] In 1990, while preparing for his Sound+Vision Tour, Bowie recalled the difficulties faced by the show, saying it "was good fun and dangerous, with the equipment breaking down and the bridges falling apart on stage. I kept getting stuck out over the audience's heads, on the hydraulic cherry picker, after the finish of 'Space Oddity.'"[7]

Other props worked as expected: for the song "Big Brother", Bowie sang while atop a multi-mirrored glass "asylum", emerging during the next song ("Time") sitting in the palm of a giant hand covered in small light bulbs.[1]

The show in Tampa, Florida, was performed without any of the stage props because the truck driver driving those components ended up in a highway ditch after being stung by a bee.[1]

In 1987, while preparing for the Glass Spider Tour (which picked up theatrically where the Diamond Dogs tour left off and was also designed by Ravitz), Bowie recalled about the extraordinary nature of the set he used during this tour, saying "We had four skyscrapers on stage, with bridges that went backwards and forward and would go up and down. The whole thing was built on a city pretext. I had dancers working with me and it was choreographed and was a real fantastic musical event. I thoroughly enjoyed working like that."[8]

Live recordingsEdit

Performing at the Washington DC Capital Centre on 11 November 1974, during the "Soul Tour" phase of the tour

MainMan, Bowie's management team, planned to cull a live album from the July 1974 performances at the Tower Theater just outside Philadelphia. When the band learned of this, they demanded to be paid a standard recording fee of $5000 per musician in addition to their normal pay or they would refuse to perform. They were given checks hours before show time, and the concert recording went on as planned.[3][9] The resulting double album, titled David Live, became Bowie's first official live album.

A Portrait in Flesh, a bootleg of the 5 September 1974 show in Los Angeles was released in Australia.[10] An official version of the 5 September 1974 show, mixed by Tony Visconti in 2016, was first released as Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles '74), a 3-LP set, for Record Store Day on 22 April 2017. The set was released in CD and digital formats in June 2017.

An official live album mostly recorded at the Michigan Palace, Detroit on 20 October 1974, during the last stage of the tour – known as The Soul Tour – was released for Record Store Day in August 2020. The 2-LP and 2-CD set is titled I'm Only Dancing (The Soul Tour '74). In September 2020, I'm Only Dancing (The Soul Tour '74) peaked at #16 on the Billboard Top Rock Albums chart and #12 on the Billboard Top Alternative Albums chart.[11][12]


Tour datesEdit

  • Two concerts were performed on 16 June in Toronto.
Date City Country Venue
North America (First Leg)
14 June 1974 Montreal Canada Montreal Forum
15 June 1974 Ottawa Ottawa Civic Centre
16 June 1974 Toronto O'Keefe Centre
17 June 1974 Rochester United States Rochester Community War Memorial
18 June 1974 Cleveland Public Auditorium
19 June 1974
20 June 1974 Toledo Toledo Sports Arena
22 June 1974 Detroit Cobo Hall
23 June 1974
24 June 1974 Trotwood Hara Arena
25 June 1974 Cincinnati Cincinnati Gardens
26 June 1974 Pittsburgh Syria Mosque
27 June 1974
28 June 1974 Charleston Charleston Civic Center
29 June 1974 Nashville Nashville Municipal Auditorium
30 June 1974 Memphis Mid-South Coliseum
1 July 1974 Atlanta Fox Theatre
2 July 1974 Tampa Curtis Hixon Hall
3 July 1974 Casselberry Seminole Turf Club
5 July 1974 Charlotte Charlotte Colisuem
6 July 1974 Greensboro Greensboro Coliseum
7 July 1974 Norfolk Norfolk Scope
8 July 1974 Upper Darby Tower Theater
9 July 1974
10 July 1974
11 July 1974
12 July 1974
13 July 1974
14 July 1974 New Haven New Haven Coliseum
16 July 1974 Boston Music Hall
17 July 1974 Yarmouth Cape Cod Coliseum
19 July 1974 New York City Madison Square Garden
20 July 1974
North America (Second Leg)
2 September 1974 Los Angeles United States Universal Amphitheatre
3 September 1974
4 September 1974
5 September 1974
6 September 1974
7 September 1974
8 September 1974
11 September 1974 San Diego San Diego Sports Arena
13 September 1974 Tucson Tucson Convention Center
14 September 1974 Phoenix Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum
15 September 1974 Anaheim Anaheim Convention Center
16 September 1974
North America (Third Leg)
5 October 1974 Saint Paul United States Saint Paul Civic Center
6 October 1974
8 October 1974 Indianapolis Indiana Convention Center
10 October 1974 Madison Dane County Coliseum
11 October 1974
13 October 1974 Milwaukee MECCA Arena
15 October 1974 Detroit Michigan Palace Theater
16 October 1974
17 October 1974
18 October 1974
19 October 1974
20 October 1974
21 October 1974 Chicago Arie Crown Theater
22 October 1974
23 October 1974
28 October 1974 New York City Radio City Music Hall
29 October 1974
30 October 1974
31 October 1974
1 November 1974
2 November 1974
3 November 1974
6 November 1974 Cleveland Public Auditorium
8 November 1974 Buffalo War Memorial Stadium
11 November 1974 Landover Capital Centre
14 November 1974 Boston Music Hall
15 November 1974
16 November 1974
18 November 1974 Philadelphia The Spectrum Theater
19 November 1974 Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Civic Arena
24 November 1974 Philadelphia The Spectrum Theater
25 November 1974
28 November 1974 Memphis Mid-South Coliseum
30 November 1974 Nashville Nashville Municipal Auditorium
1 December 1974 Atlanta Omni Coliseum



  1. ^ a b c d Kamp, Thomas (1985), David Bowie: The Wild-Eyed Boy 1964–1984 (1st ed.), O'Sullivan, Woodside & Co.
  2. ^ 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved 16 April 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d Edwards, Henry; Zanetta, Tony (1986), Stardust: The David Bowie Story, ISBN 0-07-072797-X
  4. ^ "David Bowie Opens Up – A Little" by Scott Isler, Musician Magazine, August 1987, pp 60-73
  5. ^ Albrecht, Leslie (24 August 2016). "Former David Bowie Set Designer Keeps Park Slope Building Dripping with Art". DNAInfo.com. Archived from the original on 14 September 2016. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  6. ^ Cascone, Sarah (12 January 2016). "Take a Peek at David Bowie's Idiosyncratic Art Collection". Artnet News. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  7. ^ Clarke, Tina (1990), "David Bowie: Ornament – Oddity – Artist – Survivor", Elle, archived from the original on 16 July 2001
  8. ^ Morse, Steve (July–August 1987), "David Bowie (Cover Story)", In Fashion Magazine, 3 (10): 151, 153
  9. ^ "Why Bowie Never Listened to His Live Album Recorded at the Tower". 11 January 2016.
  10. ^ "David Bowie 1974-09-05 Los Angeles, A Portrait In Flesh (remix) SQ -9". davidbowieworld.nl. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  11. ^ "David Bowie Chart History (Top Rock Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  12. ^ "David Bowie Chart History (Alternative Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved 25 October 2020.