David Bowie Scary Monsters Smoking – 1980


Product reference: Z_1649_07

Scary Monsters and Super Creeps

“So much had to be on the film, you couldn’t manipulate images on the computer like you can do today. Duffy would create these amazing shoots – He saw in the camera what he saw and we didn’t, we would only see the finished picture.”Sara Raeburn 

Taken by Duffy during the last of the Five Sessions with David Bowie in 1980.

By 1980 Duffy was winding down his photographic career. His studio was no longer filled with cameras, lights and famous faces of the era. It was replaced with woodworking tools for his new venture – furniture restoration. Without a studio space or an assistant, Duffy turned to his son Chris for a venue to shoot David Bowie, the only person who could persuade him to get back behind the lens. Much like the Lodger shot little over a year before, Bowie had employed Duffy as a photographer in collaboration with artist Edward Bell who he had previously introduced to David. After the shoot, Duffy took his chosen image to Edward Bell to add his contribution.

Fully expecting Bell to paint directly on to his print; in the end, Duffy’s image was almost completely obscured by Bell’s painting. Although David loved the cover, Duffy was deeply hurt that his photograph had been despoiled by Bell.

David Bowie Scary Monsters Smoking

This image was included on the stamp design around the edge of the “Ashes to Ashes” single. The 7″ was released 1st August 1980 on RCA records and had three cover variants all shot by Duffy. The graphic markings on the single sleeves were done by Bowie with a marker pen. Some copies of the record came with an extra sheet of Duffy images made to look like postage stamps.  This print is also available as part of our Scary Monsters Contact Sheet #1.

The Whole Story

The fascinating story behind this timeless session is fully documented in the Duffy Bowie Five Sessions Book told by those who were there. Including Chris Duffy who said of the session – “It was kind of a kooky shoot really, what with three people shooting David and then the record cover ends up as a painting, how mad is that?”

Limited and Signed editions are available, to discuss options please Contact Us.

Buying options

Our Standard Archival Quality Pigment Ink Prints are 7.5″x7.5″ in 12″x12″ Mounts which are the same size as a vinyl record sleeve for convenient framing.

All of our prints are supplied with either a Black or White mount.



Product reference: Z_1649_07