John Hutchinson, Early David Bowie Guitarist, Has Died

David Bowie performing with The Buzz in 1966. (John Hutchinson is at left.)
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John Hutchinson, a British guitarist who made early contributions to David Bowie's career - including versions of his breakthrough hit - has died.

"Our thoughts are with the family and friends of John Hutchinson who passed in hospital yesterday after a long illness," Bowie's official site posted Sunday, July 25. No cause of death was disclosed.

"Hutch," as he was known, was a gigging, jazz-influenced guitarist who first met Bowie during a 1966 audition for the aspiring singer's new backing group, The Buzz. Their single "Do Anything You Say," released that same year ,was the first to be credited to Bowie alone. (Previous release "Can't Help Thinking About Me" was credited to Bowie with The Lower Third - the first time the man born David Jones changed his name to avoid confusion with a member of The Monkees.)

Neither single did well, but Bowie and Hutch reconvened two years later as part of Feathers, a trio with Bowie's then-girlfriend Hermione Farthingale. Bowie and Farthingale would soon break up, and Bowie's feelings of alienation led to a new song on which Hutch played guitar on several of the early recordings: "Space Oddity." The eventual single release without Hutchinson would finally earn Bowie his first hit single in 1969. The duo's multiple demos would be heard on acclaimed box sets like 1989's Sound + Vision and the 1969 overview Conversation Piece, issued in 2019.

READ MORE: David Bowie: The Real Winner of the Space Race

Bowie and Hutch's paths would cross once more. The guitarist was added to an expanded line-up of Bowie's band during the last year of the Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars tour. Hutchinson played rhythm and 12-string acoustic guitar and was present when Bowie spontaneously announced the retirement of his Ziggy persona.

READ MORE: February 1972: England Greets Ziggy Stardust

Since 1980, Hutch was working in and around the oil industry while continuing to play occasionally. In 2014, two years before Bowie's passing, he published a memoir about their time together.

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